I have my hands full: Pankaj Tripathi

The deep roots that bind Pankaj Tripathi to the earth are more than apparent. That he makes no effort to hide those idyllic roots makes him even more endearing. Humility personified, the national award-winning actor is grateful for the response of the audiences and industry.

With seven film releases in 2017, eight in 2018, besides the runaway success of ‘Sacred Games’ and ‘Mirzapur’, Tripathi recently shot his solo lead ‘Kagaz’ in Sitapur and has makers queuing up to sign him.

“I never thought that a time would come that someone will write a story keeping me in mind or a producer will invest crores of rupees on a film that I will carry on my shoulders. There are many independent film makers who want to do films with me in the lead and I am not able to give them dates for the next 12 months. But, it’s now happening! Probably, hard work and honesty helped,” said the actor during his stay in Lucknow.

He is currently shooting for untitled film, a biopic on Shaurya Chakra awardee Gunjan Saxena, which stars Jhanvi Kapoor and he plays her father.


“I never thought nor had any aspiration that I carry a film on my shoulder or I become a leading man. I enjoy acting and just love to do my roles – big or small. In ‘Lukka Chuppi’ I was offered the part of the main villain but when I read the script, I chose to do a very small but sweet role instead. All this has happened on its own but it took 20 years to happen,” he said.

“Failures don’t bother me much nor do I let success go to my head. One major change that has happened to me is that I am economically stable now. As the length of roles increases, people have started looking forward to my work, so I have started feeling more responsible,” added Tripathi.

More work mean more time – away from the family in Mumbai and they have to travel to his shoot locations to be together. “But then, that’s what an actor yearns for.”

He recalls his previous stay in Lucknow. “When I came to shoot for ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi’ then I used to walk daily and run in a park in Gomti Nagar. Now, when I went to walk, in the same park that too in night, people started recognising me and there was a small crowd due to which I had to return to the hotel. I am enjoying this phase but miss my freedom. It’s the side effect of success!”


His upcoming films are ‘Luka Chuppi’, Shakeela’s biopic which stars Richa Chadha, Hrithik Roshan’s ‘Super 30’, Dharma Production’s ‘Drive’, Anubhav Sinha’s ‘Abhi To Party Shuru Hui Hai’ and Satish Kaushik’s ‘Kagaz’.

It is going to be a packed 2019 for Pankaj. “After this film, I will shoot for Anurag Basu. Then I will shoot for ‘1983’ which will be shot in London, in which I play India’s cricket team’s manager PR Man Singh. ‘Mirzapur’ will fit in between. I plan to do Anoop Singh’s (take on ‘The Song of Scorpions’) film which is in a very different space.”

Tripathi says that he will keep surprising his audience. “In previous releases, people were surprised with shades that I had in ‘Newton’, ‘Gurgaon’, ‘Bareilly…’, ‘Stree’ and Kaleen Bhaiya (his character in Mirzapur) presented the rest of the shades. My upcoming roles are very different from previous films. Like in Shakeela’s biopic I play a colourful South Indian hero of the 90s, dancing in the pool and doing all sorts of things,” he said.


His ‘Sacred Games’ became a big success but the reach of ‘Mirzapur’ shocked him. “From a panwallah near my house, to the vegetable vendor, a senior Indian bureaucrat to a senior official in the World Bank in the US — the reach of this show has been immense. In the US, they say ‘Mirzapur’ is India’s ‘Narcos’. I am really surprised by its reach,” he said.

The actor is looking forward to its second season. But, right now the focus is on ‘Sacred Games 2’. “I am not allowed to say a word about it. I can just say that it has become very big. It has gone international (South Africa) and the storyline too has widened.”

He has also shot for the Indian adaptation of BBC’s show ‘Criminal Justice’ which has Vikrant Massey, Jackey Shroff and Anupriya Goenka. His TV show ‘Powder’ that aired in 2010, is now doing well on Netfilx. “It did not do well then but now it’s trending. YRF and Netflix want to make a new season of it,” he said.


He shot Bareilly Ki Barif (2017) in Lucknow and then in the last 12 months he shot ‘Abhi to Party Shuru Huyi Hai’, ‘Kaagaz’ and now this biopic. “The city is lucky as I was here when I got the national award. I did not have time else I would have shot for few more like Tigmanshu Dhulia’s ‘Milan Talkies’, Sanjay Dutt’s ‘Prasthasnam’ and Seema Pahwa’s ‘Pind Daan’,” he said.

He feels realistic stories, administrative and public support, locations and subsidy are boosting shoots here. “Realistic locations also play a character in the film. I was watching a few shots of ‘Kaagaz’ during editing and the village shots and farms that I saw on screen were such that we have not seen on cinema for the last many years,” he said.

Pankaj hopes to be back soon in city for ‘Mirzapur-2’ and another film, probably!

First Published:
Feb 27, 2019 17:47 IST

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