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What Pankaj Tripathi Suffers From

By ROSHMILA BHATTACHARYA
June 14, 2022 16:24 IST
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'Over-eating.'
'Haan bhook lagi ho to over-eating ho hi jaati hai, na?'
'I came to Mumbai because I wanted to act and if a role sounded good, I signed on.'
'Ab bahut ho gaya hai.'
'I don't have to work like that anymore.'

IMAGE: Pankaj Tripathi in Sherdil: The Pilibhit Saga. Photograph: Kind courtesy Pankaj Tripathi/Instagram

It's been a long journey, but in the last few years, Pankaj Tripathi has been one of the busiest actors in Bollywood.

And the over-commitment has taken its toll.

Speaking to Rediff.com Senior Contributor Roshmila Bhattacharya, Pankaj says he is intent on striking a work-life balance and has consciously slowed down.

But he is still the only actor in Hindi cinema spearheading five franchises.

"I must be the only actor in Hindi cinema right now doing five franchises -- Fukrey 3, Mirzapur 3, Criminal Justice 3, Oh My God 2 and now, Satishji (actor-director Satish Kaushik) wants me to listen to the story of Kaagaz," he says.

You were shooting in Khajuraho for Fukrey 3 last month. It must have been quite an ordeal, given that it was reported to be the hottest place in India then, recording a maximum temperature of 48.6 degrees.

Yes, it was a difficult shoot and watching us, one gentleman actually asked me how we could work in the unbearable heat.

I reminded him that at the end of the day we are labourers who have to stand in the sun and the rain.

We still have a lot of shooting left.

IMAGE: Pankaj Tripathi in Kaagaz.

What's it like to take a franchise forward?

Achcha hai. As I was telling my friend Durgesh Singh (writer of the Web series Gullak), I must be the only actor in Hindi cinema right now doing five franchises -- Fukrey 3, Mirzapur 3, Criminal Justice 3, Oh My God 2 and now, Satishji (actor-director Satish Kaushik) wants me to listen to the story of Kaagaz 2.

Emraan Hashmi once said a franchise, no matter how successful, should end after Part 3 or Part 4. Would you agree?

Haan bilkul. Sometimes there isn't even a significant plot to carry the story forward, yet we actors are expected to enact the same character, with the same characteristics, again and again.

It can get really tedious.

I would rather do something new and different.

But there are also times when the writing is so good that you enjoy the repeat run.

Creativity has no fixed formula. Tomorrow, I could disagree with what I am saying today.

IMAGE: Pankaj Tripathi with Divyenndu in Mirzapur.

We are all set for Mirzapur's third season and your character, Kaleen bhaiya, hasn't lost his charm yet. In fact, what makes him interesting is the contrast between his persona and his profession.

You are absolutely correct. The character was conceived as a soft-spoken, polite, man who strategises the most heinous of crimes.

One can see flashes of Pankaj Tripathi in him. Was that intentional?

Well, an actor usually brings a bit of himself into any role he plays and I had always wanted to play a negative character in a way that is contradictory to what he does.

Kaleen bhaiya is a dangerous, dreaded, gangster, yet despite all the khoon kharaba (bloodshed), I wanted him to come across as a courteous man.

Jab virodhabhas ho to actor ko bhi mazaa aata hai woh kirdar nibhane mein (When there is contradiction, the actor also enjoys playing the character) and in this case, we were breaking stereotypes.

(Laughs) Going by his looks and behaviour, he could well have been a clerk in an office.

IMAGE: Pankaj Tripathi on the Mirzapur poster.

While promoting Mirzapur 2, you had spoken about how exhausted you were, how you had reached the stage of burnout.

Yes, not just creatively, even physically, I was really down then because of a spinal injury.

Despite that, I had to continue working.

I was craving for a break.

The pandemic triggered-lockdown must have been a blessing in disguise then. Are you better now?

Yes, I have bounced back from the injury and am more disciplined now.

Earlier, it was just work, work and more work.

Now, I'm attempting to strike a balance between life and work.

I've slowed down, become more selective and have cut down on my work hours.

I'm thinking of taking a break of 15-20 days, maybe even a month, between one project and the next.

IMAGE: Pankaj Tripathi with the cast of '83 and Director Kabir Khan. Photograph: Kind courtesy Pankaj Tripathi/Instagram

But why did you take on so many projects in the past?

It was a case of over-eating.

Over-eating?

Haan bhook lagi ho to over-eating ho hi jaati hai, na? (When you are hungry, you over-eat, right?)

I came to Mumbai because I wanted to act and if a role sounded good, if a producer and director were good, if the set-up was good, I signed on.

I did wonder fleetingly how I would manage the dates and was instantly assured that they would adjust their schedule to my convenience.

I could take the late night flight or the early morning flight out to the shoot.

As a result, I was shooting in one city during the day and in another at night.

It was completely unplanned aur pata hi nahin chala (I was unaware) when I got so busy.

Ab bahut ho gaya hai (I've had enough).

I don't have to work like that anymore.

Is a vacation a part of the plan too?

Yes, I was in Mussoorie last month with my wife and daughter and there will be more such enjoyable vacations.

From leading man to bad man, from father to friend, you have played almost every kind of role. What's the game plan now?

I want to do two big mainstream films and a couple of small, content-rich, meaningful films every year.

Earlier, there was '83 and Mimi, this year, there's OMG 2: Oh My God! and Sherdil.

Don't miss Part 2 of the Pankaj Tripathi interview on Thursday!: 'Recently, a fan turned up at my parents' home with gifts for them and my annoyed father called me to ask why I had sent him!'

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ROSHMILA BHATTACHARYA