Pankaj Tripathi is suffering from throat infection but that hasn’t stopped him from promoting his next Hindi film, Angrezi Main Kehte Hai that releases on May 18. The actor recently went to New Delhi to receive his 65th National Award for Newton. “We haven’t really had a party. My daughter had arranged something because she was really excited. It was great feeling being appreciated,” he says.
But has the award put in an extra responsibility on him as an actor? “I have never been an irresponsible actor but I won’t deny that right now, the responsibility is a lot more. Earlier, I used to see possibility in every small role. I would think, ‘It will be fun portraying it, I can work out something in two scenes’,” he says.
His character in Angrezi Main Kehte Hai is small but an important one. “The main plot revolves around Sanjay Mishra and I love him as an actor. I had to do the film because I am ready to just stand in Sanjay Bhaiya’s film. He is my guru as we are from NSD. I cried after reading my role in the film because it’s a beautiful one and I haven’t done anything like this before. It’s an impactful character,” explains Pankaj.
Last year (2017) has been quite big for Pankaj as he delivered memorable performances in several films including Anaarkali of Aarah, Newton, Gurgaon, Bareilly Ki Barfi, Fukrey Returns and others. Does he attribute the fact that he has been offered 30 scripts this year to the success of these films and the appreciation he received for them?
“Absolutely. I personally felt bad that the makers did not send Gurgaon for National Awards because I feel it’s one of the finest performances of my career. But the producer didn’t remember to send the film. There is no denying that last year’s films have contributed greatly to my career considering I got to play such diverse roles. It’s created a space for me in the industry,” he says.
When asked if his focus is on strong storyline or unique characters, Pankaj says, “Right now, I am reading scripts. In fact before speaking to you, I was reading one of them. I am focusing on both the script and character. I am a socially awakened actor and I like to do films, which give out some kind of social message, but in an entertaining manner.
Earlier, we used to make slow-paced films and promote them as arty. I believe that if the audience is engaged, only then I will be able to convey them something substantial.”
He says that there are several other factors also involved like the team he is working with. “Sometimes, the script and character are fine. But the team I am working with also matters. I should enjoy working with the director, actors and producers,” he says.
The actor will be next seen in Phamous and is also making his debut in Punjabi industry with Harjeeta, which is based on the true story of Harjeet Singh, a professional hockey player, in which he is playing a coach. He has also finished shooting for Anubhav Sinha’s Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai, which stars critically acclaimed actors like Saurabh Shukla, Vinay Pathak, Pavan Malhotra, Divya Dutta, Kumud Mishra, Manoj Pahwa, Richa Chadha, Dilip Prabhavalkar, Cyrus Broacha and others.
“Each one has a small part. We loved the script so much that we decided to do the film. Each one was supporting the other because it’s a beautiful political satire. When you have such amazing actors, it’s a fun working together — there’s a lot of give and take happening,” he says before signing off.