Pankaj Tripathi the star who refuses to stop experimenting
He has his mannerisms and a typical style of acting but Pankaj Tripathi almost never repeats his characters onscreen. On his birthday, here's looking at his career to understand how he continues to experiment with his onscreen avatar despite all the success that he has.
When Gangs of Wasseypur released across India in 2012, not only did it catapult filmmaker Anurag Kashyap to stardom, it also proved to be the launchpad of many actors such as Richa Chadha, Huma Qureshi and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. It was also the claim to fame for Pankaj Tripathi who turns 47 on Monday. Pankaj had a dedicated fan-following since his debut in the 2004 Run but his reach widened with the 2012 crime-drama. (Also read: Criminal Justice 3 review)
It is quite common for actors to get stuck (by choice or otherwise) in roles and films that emerge as successful and become their launchpads. Pankaj Tripathi has a style of acting where body language precedes dialogue-delivery and that remains constant for him. However, much like one of his favourite actors Irrfan Khan, Pankaj is also not among those who'd get stuck in one type of role. A decade after Gangs of Wasseypur, he is not just one of the most celebrated actors in the world of Hindi entertainment, he also continues to experiment with his roles.
To get a sense of his success and variety of roles over the past few years, Pankaj received widespread critical acclaim and popularity when he essayed the role of a crime lord from the heartlands of northern India, Kaleen Bhaiya in Karan Anshuman's Mirzapur (2018).
Earlier, Pankaj reached thousands of hearts when he played Kriti Sanon's father in Bareilly Ki Barfi alongside Ayushmann Khurrana and Rajkummar Rao. He also had remarkable presence in the role of the principal in Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari's claim to fame, Nil Battey Sannata. Pankaj was seen in his National Film Award-winning role of Atma Singh in the 2017 film Newton. He also worked with Rajinikanth in Kaala. His portrayal of the villager in Amar Kaushik's Stree was hilarious. He also had the now-famous dialogue - 'wo stree hai, wo kuch bhi kar sakti hai (She is woman, she can do anything)."
Pankaj's subtle portrayal of even the most dramatic character distinguishes him from many others in the business. As his popularity gained momentum, he became the poster boy of minimalistic acting in Hindi entertainment. He has maintained his rustic vibe and imbibes his life experience to bring out the body language of his character.
From Narottam Mishra's conscious and supportive love for his daughter to Atma Singh's cynical attitude, Pankaj manages to impersonate remarkable traits of the most common of characters from our society.
Pankaj had a small but remarkable role in Homi Adajania's Angrezi Medium. He played the role of a travel agent who gets Irrfan and his friend an illegal entry into the UK. Pankaj also made his Hollywood debut with the Netflix original film Extraction that also marked Randeep Hooda's debut in Hollywood in 2020.
In Anurag Basu's Ludo (2020), he was seen as the funny gangster Sattu Bhaiyya while he played the role of sensitive, rational and ever-supporting father of Kargil war hero, flight lieutenant Gunjan Saxena in Janhvi Kapoor-starrer Gunjan Saxena The Kargil Girl. Both Gunjan Saxena and Ludo were mainstream film that would have found their way to theatres if it were not for the pandemic. He has played the father to two popular heroines (Kriti and Janhvi) and yet, Narottam Mishra was poles apart from Anup Saxena.
Anurag Kashyap and Vikramditya Motwane had remarkable success with Netflix's Sacred Games in 2020 and the popular web show also showed Pankaj in yet another new light. He essayed the role of Guruji in the show that exposed various cruel realities of human nature.
Last year, Pankaj stepped into the shoes of Amitabh Bachchan as he played the main investigating officer in Bunty Aur Babli 2. He also played Indian cricket team coach Man Singh in Kabir Khan's sports drama 83. He also played the crucial part of Kriti Sanon's friend and partner in Mimi. Pankaj also appeared in the lead role in Satish Kaushik's film Kaagaz. The film featured him as a helpless, common man who fights his own battle to prove to the government that he is alive.
Over past two years, Pankaj has successfully essayed the role of advocate Madhav Mishra across three seasons of the web show Criminal Justice. The most recent, third season is currently being released in batches of a one episode each on Disney+ Hotstar.
In 2022, Pankaj has had one film with Akshay Kumar -Bachchan Paandey, and another theatrical release that featured him in the lead role. Sherdil The Pilibhit Saga. In Bachchan Paandey, Pankaj had the comical role of an acting teacher while he essayed the role of a village head ready to sacrifice his own life for the sake of his fellow villagers in Sherdil - a film that talked about the balance between modern development and conservation of nature.
Pankaj has the third season of Mirzapur and OMG 2 in the pipeline and he has diverse roles to play in both. Can you think of two similar roles that he has played in recent time?