Pankaj Tripathi is the man of the moment. After winning the Special Mention for his performance of a cynical CRPF personnel in Amit Masurkar’s Newton at National Film Awards this year, Tripathi was honoured with the Bihar Samman Award for ‘Excellence in Cinema’. And not just awards, the actor who has wowed us with his stellar performances all these years is finally getting his due in the star-driven industry that is taking note of his talent and also bestowing the much-needed appreciation on him. “Winning these awards is an overwhelming feeling. I have been around for 20 years. I had come here with a dream and seeing it come true is inexplicable. I have been entrusted with a great responsibility and I hope to be able to do my job with a lot of hard work and honesty,” says the humble actor.
In 2017, Tripathi had four releases, and with each role, he showed the range of his acting calibre. He played stoic Kehri Singh in Gurgaon, doting dad Narottam Mishra in Bareilly Ki Barfi, CRPF personnel Aatma Singh in Newton and Pandit in Fukrey Returns. “Of all these roles, I played my age in Newton for the first time. It was a great experience,” he gushes, adding, “It may pave the way for more age-appropriate roles for me, or so I hope.”
This year, his first release was Harish Vyas’ ‘Angrezi Mein Kehte Hain’ (AMKH) where he had barely three scenes, but in those not-so-long appearances, he managed to leave an impact on the plot. “I am playing a character that is close to me in real life. I am Feroz who is tending to his ailing wife Suman and happens to meet Yashwant Batra played by Sanjai Mishra one day and the conversation between the two changes the course of Yashwant’s love life,” he says. The reason that he loved his part was because it happens to be his nth film with Mishra, whom he fondly calls ‘bhaiyya’. “I couldn’t have missed this chance. The story is set in Varanasi and gave me an opportunity to share screen space with Sanjai Bhaiyya. What more could I ask for?” he quips.
His next to hit the theatres is Karan Lalit Bhutani’s Phamous on June 1 where he will be seen as Ramvijay Tripathi alongside Kay Kay Menon, Jackie Shroff, Jimmy Shergill, and Shriya Sharan. “He is the most deplorable character that I have ever played onscreen,” he says on the film that is set in the ravines of Chambal.
Language no bar
The release of AMKH coincided with that of Vijay Kumar Arora’s Punjabi film Harjeeta. The biopic based on the life of Harjeet Singh, an Indian professional hockey player, who captained the Indian squad at the 2016 Men’s Hockey Junior World Cup, marked Tripathi’s debut in regional cinema with his role of a hockey coach Harendra Singh. “It was an exciting role. My character in the film is close to my heart as it is connected to my roots in Bihar,” says the actor.
Close on the heels is Rajnikanth-starrer gangster drama ‘Kaala’, which is scheduled to release worldwide on June 7. “It was a role that I took up out of sheer curiosity to know the Tamil superstar a little more and little better. I was keen to know what makes him a rage among his fans and an acting legend that he is. I thought that doing a film with him may give answers to my questions,” he quips on his first Tamil film.
His other projects include a web series titled Mirzapur, and the Indian adaptation of British television drama series Criminal Justice, and films like Super 30, Drive, Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui, and National Award winning filmmaker Sanjoy Nag’s Yours Truly with Soni Razdan. “It is a poignant love story with shades of longing and loneliness,” he says, adding, “I will be a little more selective about the kinds of roles that I take up. It should be befitting my talent, uphold the trust of my audience, and befitting the honour of the National Award.”
“I will be a little more selective about the kinds of roles that I take up. It should be befitting my talent, uphold the trust of my audience, and befitting the honour of the National Award.”