New Delhi: His road to success was paved with ‘many failures’. However, Pankaj Tripathi, who made his Hindi movie debut by playing an unnamed character in the 2004 movie Run, doesn’t have any regrets. Pankaj Tripathi calls them his ‘foundation’ years.
Over the past few years, Tripathi has become the go-to actor for complex characters across mediums. Among his successful films and web series are Gangs of Wasseypur, Mirzapur, Sacred Games, Masaan, and Bareilly Ki Barfi.
The actor credited his struggling days and early roadblocks for where he stands today. “Those were my foundation years. Whatever I am today is because of the mistakes or the good things I did at that time. It was a time when I could not do a lot of things that I wanted to do. I’m a result of all those failures,” Tripathi stated.
Tripathi hails from Belsand village in Gopalganj district of Bihar. He always reflects about how he would not be the person he is today if he had a different childhood. “Our past is always right. I feel whatever happens, happens for the best. So all those failures were correct,” Tripathi asserted.
This philosophy of hopefulness permeates everything Tripathi does. He is seen playing a ruthless Machiavellian villain ‘Kaleen Bhaiya’ in Mirzapur in the Amazon Prime Video crime drama series.
The actor said he operates on the notion that every character, however grey, is redeemable. “I’m someone who likes to do things at a slow pace. So I bring a ‘thahrav’ to ‘Kaleen Bhaiya’. He is grey. I play my characters with the hope that they are good somewhere. They can even change for better. So I try to bring certain humanity and hope in all my characters. You will not find him bad on the surface; you have to go deep to feel that evil,” Tripathi pointed out.
As an actor, Tripathi believes, one gets a chance to think and empathise from different perspectives. It is a process that’s enriching and helps one evolve as a human being.
“We are supposed to immerse ourselves in the life, complexities, crisis and love of our characters day and night. When you think about others, you improve as a human. You become more empathetic because you are going through the crisis and pain of others. We are lucky that we get paid for this,” he said.
The crime series also offers a glimpse into how youth gets attracted to this one-way game of power. Tripathi also praised scribes Puneet and Vineet Krishna for their nuanced writing. He said that the series has introduced people to words like ‘bhokaal’ (roughly translated as ‘influence’).
Initially the show had drawn some comparison with “Gangs of Wasseypur”, which also featured Tripathi and revolved around the unholy nexus of power, crime and strongmen in Bihar’s coal town of Wasseypur.
Asked about his process of working through the conflict between the heart and mind, Tripathi said he lets it resolve on its own.
“I don’t think too much about ambition and other such things. I spent my time in the company of books. Then there are people who made me realise that these things are nothing but a mirage. It also helps me in staying grounded,” asserted Tripathi.
Mirzapur became a pop culture phenomenon when it released in 2018. There there is a lot of anticipation around its season two premiere October 23.