“Bollywood is a very democratic space in my personal opinion… I could never have believed that an actor who looks like me could play the protagonist in a Hindi movie like I’m doing in Kaagaz, my upcoming film. This was not possible 10-15 years ago. Everyone is the same on a film set, from the hero to the light man to the make-up artist, ”said actor Pankaj Tripathi.
His comment, which came at the end of a year when the Hindi film industry was embroiled in a nepotism debate, was made on Express eAdda on Monday, where the actor spoke with national feature film editor Devyani Onial and Indian Express film critic Shubhra Gupta.
Having had a stellar year with widely acclaimed appearances in the films Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl and Ludo, and the web series Mirzapur and Criminal Justice, Tripathi spoke on a number of topics, including his early days as a fighter in Mumbai, his motivation to dedicate himself to acting and the current state of the Hindi film industry.
When asked which “drama school” he believed he belonged to, 44-year-old Tripathi, who received a special mention at the National Film Awards for his performance in Newton (2017), fondly remembered his late colleague Irrfan, who died earlier this year.
“I haven’t seen a lot of films and I have almost no relation to older actors. My training school was the National School of Drama, from which people like Pankaj Kapur and Naseeruddin Shah came. Irrfan Sahab made a big impression on me, although I don’t know if I come from his drama school. But if I were to be associated with his school it would be a great honor for me. Mujhe unse bada prem thha (I liked him a lot), ”he said.
Tripathi and Irrfan worked together in Angrezi Medium, which was published this March.
Tripathi has also built a small-screen presence with web shows like Sacred Games and Mirzapur. At the eAdda, he went into what he called a “formula trap” that OTT platforms can get into. One example of this is the deluge of similar gangster stories being streamed across different platforms.
“We see that in the entertainment industry: (there is) a success story and then a tendency to repeat it. (If) we do something once, it is a novelty, but (if) we do it too often, it loses its effect, ”said the actor.
Tripathi responded to a question about his directing dreams and said: “Yes, one day hopefully. I get images of the landscapes of different places in my head – from a full moon night from Rann of Kutch to the desolate Nubra Valley in Leh. I can only share it with the world when I’m directing, not by speaking alone. “
When asked by the Ambassador of Suriname to India, Aashna Kanhai, about a future in which he could join politics, Tripathi replied: “We shall see.”
The actor, who was involved in student politics while studying in Patna, said, “I’ve worked so hard to be an actor and now people recognize me as an actor. It would be a bit strange if I switched my career from Abhineta (actor) to Neta (politician). However, politics has the ability to bring about change that can directly affect people’s lives. I may not know in the future if the opportunity will arise. “
The Express Adda, which went online during the Covid-19 pandemic, previously had actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Anushka Sharma and Kangana Ranaut. Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari, S. Jaishankar, Nirmala Sitharaman and Ramesh Pokhriyal; and experts in their field such as AIIMS director Dr. Randeep Guleria, Chief Economic Advisor Krishnamurthy Subramanian, Nobel Prize Winners Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, cancer specialist and award-winning author Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee and athletes like Cheteshwar Pujara.