“It is the OTT explosion that has made a star out of me,” he says with the simplicity of a guy brought up in the hinterland, up north. With his humble beginnings in Bihar, actor Pankaj Tripathi has wowed the natives on the big screen with his contained portrayal of complex characters. Whether it has been Kaleen bhaiya from the macabre Mirzapur web series or the grim dad in the Netflix original, Extraction, where he featured with Avengers star Chris Hemsworth, Tripathi has been on top of his game. The serious face who delivers every dialogue with easy punch, gripping the skin of the character he plays with inborn flair.
Believe it or not, for Pankaj Tripathi – the thinking person’s actor – family entertainers are his favourite genre. “There is no greater joy for an actor but to see the entire family coming to the theatre to watch a film and getting thoroughly entertained by it. As a kid, I used to look forward to going to a theatre to watch a film with my family,” he recalls. “It was a moment of celebration. We used to love getting transported into new worlds and fantastic stories.” That is exactly what his films have succeeded in achieving, transporting audiences to baffling worlds that tug at your heart, and slices of real life that endear Tripathi to you – in a realm that brings in Gangs of Wasseypur, Bareilly ki Barfi, Stree, Newton, 83, Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, Mimi, Fukrey Returns, Ludo…
He dips with signature ease into his early life, his experiences and his surroundings, coming up with sterling renditions. “If a plant doesn’t stay connected to its roots, the plant will shrivel up and slowly lose lustre. The deep knit to my roots is my lifeline, it is my necessity as an artiste as well. That is how I relate it to myself,” he explains with a slight smile, and adds, “I never thought of becoming an actor since the beginning, it was only during my graduation that I suddenly thought of it and then began my journey through theatres.”
Pankaj’s passion for travel takes him all across India, with the sights, sounds, colors, emotions…filling up his experiential repository. “I love travelling to different destinations… Our country is so beautiful that it will take years for you to cover each and every place from north to south and east to west. I have enjoyed travelling all across, from Rajasthan to Rann of Kutch to the north east,” he says. Pankaj recently took time off from his hectic shoot schedules and visited his village near Patna. “My time spent there with my loved ones worked like a soothing balm. We ate lithi chokha, and took bath in a tube well, just as we used to earlier. Everything was so refreshing. This entire trip worked like an energiser,” confesses Pankaj. Of course, with social media taking over our lives with amazing ease, the video of Pankaj cooking lithi chokha went viral in moments. “That is how life has become today, you keep living and the camera keeps recording,” Pankaj laughs. So, who is Pankaj Tripathi in real life? “A man who stays at home, cooks, thinks about the interest rate, and that’s it!” he replies instantly, the sense of humor in full glow in contrast with his serious expression. So how is he able to etch out every role he plays with such conviction and elan? “If I get paid on time, everything works on its own (laughs). But seriously speaking, acting is a craft. It takes your complete sincerity, hard work, and training to play your best in a role. Acting is what I can do best, and I do this work with all my dedication.”
Shilpi Madan for Global Spa