A film or web series seems to remain incomplete without the presence of Pankaj Tripathi. Your comment.
I tend to choose my characters very wisely and with negative characters, I play them with a hope that they are good, or they can change for better. I try to bring a certain humanity factor as well and hope in all my characters to be able to give my best.
Mirzapur 1 and 2, what difference would the audiences note in between the two?
I don't remember. On the first day for Mirzapur 2 shoot, I flew down directly from the film, “83” sets to Benaras. Surprisingly, when I performed my first shot my director said this is not how you had done in the first season. So I would like to say I'm an actor who trusts my director and never watches the monitor. Later on, I watched some episodes from the first season and how I had enacted and I took it forward from there.
Can you elaborate on your character?
Kaleen Bhaiyya is an extremely unpredictable character, he is very soft spoken, and one can never imagine what is going on in his mind — whether he is angry or sad, nothing is predictable about him. Kaleen Bhaiyya is like that CEO of a company whose expressions can never be decoded by an employee whether he had liked something or not?
Your journey may have started with doing an important role. However, it has jumped from leaps and bounds. How do you look at it?
I started acting in an amateur theatre in a small village called Gopalganj which is also my hometown in Bihar. It was during one of the prominent festivals, “Chhath”, when I started. I never even in my dream thought that I would become an actor, but it all eventually happened. And I am happy about it. I would like to thank the almighty God, for whatever he has bestowed upon me.
Having been bestowed upon the National Award did you ever expect it?
It was a big surprise for me too. Twenty years back, a kid from a village had dreamt about winning an award for acting, and that dream has come true. It is dedicated to the kids who belong from villages and rural areas. These kids dare to dream even without having the required infrastructure and luxuries.
Talent can speak volumes. But is it difficult in this competitive industry to be able to bag that one chance?
It was a journey of about 25 years for me to be able to reach this position that I have reached today. Needless to say, this did not happen overnight. Had it happened overnight, it would have gone to my head and I might have turned arrogant (smiles) thinking that the world now needs to turn according to my terms and conditions. So, I believe the fact that I took this much time to get here, this has not only taught me a lot but it has helped me stay simple in my approach.
Which film and character in your career do you consider as your turning point?
For me the turning point in my career is Mirzapur. People know me as Kaleen Bhaiyaa. That is what the character has done in the minds of my fans and the audiences’; they loved me in this character. Having donned Kaleen Bhaiyaa I have not only become popular but for the first time my own hoardings were put up in India during Mirzapur season 1. Before that no cinema halls ever put up my hoardings. All this makes me feel privileged and happy. I am lucky that I have had a fairly good journey.
Theatres are open. Your take?
I am an actor. Our main aim is to make cinema, and our performance reaches out to maximum numbers of people through any medium. Of course, the experience on the big screen is different. The experience in cinema theatres is also different as people sit together and watch a film at a time this is also a joyful experience. On a small screen, you watch it alone. So the openings of theatres have to be welcomed.
What more in your kitty?
I'll be playing the character of PR Man Singh in 83, for Mirzapur-2 it's again Kaleen Bhaiya, for Sandeep aur Pinky Farar I'm playing Kartaar Singh, for Kaagaz I'm playing a farmer.