Pankaj Tripathi is an actor so brilliant that he steals the screen the moment he appears. He is the actor who breathes life into his characters and makes them believable and relatable. Pankaj can be a butcher in Gangs of Wasseypur, a school principal in Nil Battey Sannata, or a mafia don in Mirzapur; he owns the characters. The actor has worked hard to earn the love he gets from his fans.
Did you know Pankaj Tripathi was an Athlete in his school? He was excellent in high jumps and 100m sprints. He didn’t have electricity in his village or proper school infrastructure. Pankaj studied under a tree in a Hindi-medium school.
Pankaj grew up watching movies and plays in his village. When he turned twelve, he started taking part in the annual plays organized on Chhath Puja. He used to act as a woman in those naataks, and people used to appreciate his performances. That got him even more inclined towards choosing acting as a career.
Pankaj used to help his father in farming till he moved to Patna. His father wanted to buy a tractor for farming, but it was unaffordable for them. So, he motivated Pankaj to study hard and become a doctor to have money for a tractor. Pankaj may have felt bad about his family’s situation at that time, but today he’s glad that they couldn’t afford a tractor. If his father had gotten a tractor, he might have been a farmer today.
Pankaj moved to Patna after high school and got into politics in his college days. Even in his village, he used to frequent RSS Shakhas. He joined politics to bring change in society, but he got sidetracked soon. So when he was a part of the protest against Lalu’s government at the Vidhan Sabha. He ended up in jail for a week due to that. But even there, he made it a learning experience when he read the Hindi & Western Literature books in their library.
Then he watched a play called “Andha Kuan,” which brought tears to his eyes, and he realized the power of drama to influence people. This incident explains why he makes sure that his movies deliver a message.
Pankaj got inspired to start acting, particularly after that play. He then worked with the Bihar Art Theatre in Patna for two years. His parents felt that acting was not a feasible option, so he enrolled himself in a Hotel Management Course. This later got him a job as a Kitchen supervisor at Maurya Hotel. He worked during the day and acted at night. He was a genius actor then and was once featured in the newspaper for his performance as a thief in Nandlal’s Leela story.
He had read in a magazine that actors like Anupam Kher & Om Puri have learned acting from NSD. He, too, therefore, tried getting into NSD and was selected in his third attempt.
He had to convince his father to allow him on this route to NSD. He told him that he could get a government job as a drama teacher after graduating from there. He had four plans for his career. Plan A was to become a farmer like his father. Plan B was to get into hotel management, plan C was a start-up, and plan D was acting.
Pankaj had resolved not to take dowry and have a love marriage when he was in his 10th standard. It was his sister’s wedding when he saw Mridula for the first time and decided to spend his life with her. He didn’t even know her name at that time, let alone know she was his brother-in-law’s sister.
She used to live in Kolkata while he was in Delhi at the NSD hostel. So it was a long-distance relationship where they only had letters in ten-day intervals and phone calls at eight every evening. This continued for a year when they decided to get married. They faced some opposition from their family, but in the end, they got married.
Post NSD, Pankaj came back to perform in theatres in Patna. He felt after a few months that he wouldn’t be able to evolve as an artist and so decided to move to Mumbai. He came to Mumbai with his earnings of ₹46,000 from the theatre, which ran out in three months.
He was jobless for six years when he used to visit offices in Andheri for an acting job. It was his wife who worked as a teacher to run the house and support him. But since they had limited requirements, their days were peaceful.
It happened a lot with him that he auditioned, he was finalized, and at the last moment, he was replaced. Coincidently, whichever movie he got replaced in, flopped. So he takes that experience positively too and doesn’t call these incidents and this period a struggle. He was pragmatic and knew this would happen.
He did uncredited and small work in movies like Run until he finally made a mark in Gangs of Wasseypur. His audition for that role went on for 8 hours. After that, his performances continued to reflect his reliability as an actor. People love him for whichever role he plays. Before, he went door-to-door for roles, and today, he’s getting two-three film offers almost every day.
He prepares for a role by writing a few lines about the background of the character he’s playing and adds a few from his own experiences. This makes it easier for him to imbibe the character in him.
Pankaj Tripathi is a household name now, despite his ordinary looks or no dancing and singing skills. His performance continues to inspire his fans. His work has earned him fans of all ages, from teenagers to 70-year-olds. Everybody loves him. And even after earning this much love and luxury, he is still close to his roots.