IMAGE: Pankaj Tripathi in Newton.
Pankaj Tripathi seems to be finally getting his due.
From Newton to Bareilly Ki Barfi to Gurgaon to Nil Battey Sannata, the actor has come a long, long, way.
He started his career in 2004 with a small role in the Abhishek Bachchan starrer Run, landed a better role in 2007's Dharam and finally got his big break in Anurag Kashyap's Gangs of Wasseypur.
His diary is now full with films like the Hrithik Roshan starrer Super 30, the Shahid Kapoor starrer Batti Gul Meter Chalu, Sushant Singh Rajput's Drive, Rajinikanth's Kaala, and many more.
Pankaj speaks to Rediff.com about his amazing journey from a village in Gopalganj in Bihar, which had no electricity, to Bollywood's blinding lights.
Photograph: Kind courtesy Pankaj Tripathi/Twitter
Pankaj Tripathi's father wanted him to become a doctor, but fate had other plans.
Watching a play mesmerised the young lad and he got interested in acting.
Have you ever wondered why Pankaj's acting is so pure and uninfluenced?
You won't ever see him imitate another actor or even take a reference from someone else's acting.
It's because Pankaj has barely watched movies. He puts his total count to 50 movies in his lifetime.
His references, he says, are common people, not Bollywood people.
Pankaj came to Mumbai with Rs 46,000 and stayed in a one room kitchen house.
He had no idea how to get work, and got all kinds of advice how to go about it.
Casting directors like Abhimanyu Ray and Mukesh Chhabra were then beginning their careers, and Pankaj made sure to audition for them.
When Pankaj bagged his first major role after years of trying, and several rounds of auditions, he got emotional, and started crying -- in the middle of a field.
The film was Bhavana Talwar's Dharm, starring Pankaj Kapur.
The film that really put him on the map was Anurag Kashyap's Gangs Of Wasseypur 2.
Pankaj looks back at how he bagged the role, and what is it like working with the maverick director.
After five years of struggling in Bollywood, Gangs of Wasseypur was a breakout role for him, and got him recognition.
Unfortunately, Pankaj says he didn't know how to cash in on it.
How does Pankaj play his characters so well?
Watch Pankaj's interesting answer to that question in the video below.
The actor, who is not comfortable speaking English, also talks about his first English movie: John Upchurch's Mango Dreams.
One of Pankaj's finest roles was in Newton, filmed in the jungles of Chhattisgarh.
Shooting for the film came with a lot of hardship, and Pankaj, at the time, wasn't even sure Newton would get a proper release.
Of course, all that changed when Newton was nominated as India's entry for the Oscars.
Pankaj also talks about Gurgaon, which had a brilliant performance from him, but sadly didn't have a wide release.
Besides indie movies, Pankaj has worked with the superstars as well. And he treasuries those moments.
It's not easy becoming a Shah Rukh Khan, he says, it takes more than just luck.
He also talks about Salman Khan's compliment to him, Nana Patekar's advice and how he signed Kaala just so that he could speak to Rajinikanth.
His favourite directors are Buddhadev Dasgupta (Anwar Ka Ajab Kissa), Shankar Raman (Gurgaon) and Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari (Bareilly Ki Barfi).
Want a preview of rehearsals with Pankaj Tripathi? Watch this video.