Pankaj Tripathi to WION: I chose acting as a profession for the travel and food

WION Web Team New Delhi Aug 12, 2020, 09.41 PM(IST) Written By: Zeba Khan

Pankaj Tripathi Photograph:( WION Web Team )

Story highlights

As ‘Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl’ released on OTT today, Pankaj Tripathi got candid in an exclusive chat with WION about the ‘real’ reason why he joined films and much more.

As ‘Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl’ released on OTT today, Pankaj Tripathi got candid in an exclusive chat with WION about the ‘real’ reason why he joined films and much more.

Calling ‘Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl’ a “good and important film”, the actor who looks like a serious guy from his demeanour is actually someone who loves to read books on satire, take life not so seriously and wants nothing to do with economics involved with the business of films. 

WION: You’ve said multiple times that you enjoy comedy more than any other genre. Why is that?

Pankaj Tripathi: We take life too seriously these days. There are so many motivational books around us so almost everyone has become a philosopher, all too serious in life. These books keep telling you to dream big to achieve something in life but I honestly feel sometimes we should just slow everything. Just loosen up, eat and sleep peacefully. I don't take myself seriously, I take work seriously. EMI’s have ruined us all -- for those who have got their loans approved, they have stress to pay it off while others who don’t have an approved loan are under stress to get one. 

WION: Where do you derive this humour from?

Pankaj Tripathi: I have done theatre. I read books on satire from around the world. Most don’t know but I indulge in a lot of farcical, absurd thoughts. It’s a gift of books. Society has a lot of humour. I am that actor, who has for more than half of his life, travelled by train. I have seen a lot of this world. I have sat and discussed life with people from all kinds of schools of thought. 

WION: Are you excited for your latest film ‘Gunjan Saxena’?

Pankaj Tripathi: I am excited for the audience's reaction to the film because it’s a good film, an important one. Otherwise I am not very excited in life about anything. 

WION: You play a father in ‘Gunjan Saxena’. How similar are you in real life to that character?

Pankaj Tripathi: Very close to my real life. I am a father like that. To play other characters, I use my craft, I act but in ‘Gunjan Saxena’ there’s very less acting as I had to play myself. 

Watch the trailer here:

WION: I understand ‘Gunjan Saxena’ deals with a subtle messaging of sexism that is a huge part of our society. As a father, how should a girl be raised differently from a boy?

Pankaj Tripathi: There should be no difference in bringing up a daughter from a son. As an actor, who’s connected to my audience via films, I want to tell this via the stories I am a part of. And to tell them in an entertaining manner so that they don't feel that I am trying to impart knowledge. Good stories are those that entertain you while putting through a message. 

WION: Where do you stand in the debate of OTT vs Theatre?

Pankaj Tripathi: I know nothing about cinema trade. I work in films but stay away from the industry physically as well as mentally. Physically, as my house is literally away from where all the action takes place. But I would like to point out that it’s a matter of human behaviour. While OTT offers personal viewing, theatres cater to community viewing and these are two different experiences. The fun in community viewing is not there in personal viewing. The fun of watching a film with 200 odd strangers has another charm. Cinema halls break class and hierarchy. To watch, laugh and cry at scenes with a community of strangers as a whole has a different feel but personal viewing is also important. I feel neither will take away anything from one another.

WION: Which medium do you prefer for your films?

Pankaj Tripathi: I prefer acting and it happens way before the film’s release. It happens in front of the camera at the time of shooting. As an actor I enjoy the process of filmmaking. Once the film releases, whether it's a hit or a miss and it’s collection is secondary. As an artist, one has fun with the process of filmmaking. I enjoy eating, travelling. Acting is what I love, I can think about that the whole day but the business of it -- doesn’t concern me. 

WION: Since you love food and travel, what was the last place you visited before lockdown?

Pankaj Tripathi: I was in Rajasthan before lockdown. Mandawa in Shekhawati region is famous for its wooden furniture. I love the food there too. I visited many old havelis, even stayed in some. To be true, I chose acting as a profession for the travel and free food. While shooting for ‘Gunjan Saxena’, I was in Lucknow. Ate Biryani everyday. I love Lucknow’s biryani. 

WION: What was the biggest turning point in your career?

Pankaj Tripathi: I am that person who takes a turn when he spots one on the diverging road. I had never planned to achieve what I have achieved. I always dreamt of leading a happy life with my family and I continue to do that. I am always focused on that. Life is still the same for me. I can add, however, that people started recognising me after ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’. 

WION: How would you rate yourself as an actor and your best performance?

Pankaj Tripathi: I am beyond rating and it’s difficult to say which is my best performance. One can't choose a favourite between his kids. However, my most difficult role till date was ‘Gurgaon’ and sadly, the least number of people have watched it. It took more effort as the character was toxic, introvert, alcoholic among other things.

WION: What was the latest thing you streamed during lockdown?

Pankaj Tripathi: I don’t watch films/ series. I live in a beautiful place outside of Mumbai in the middle of a jungle. There is a lot of greenery here when I stare outside my window.

WION: What’s your stance on the nepotism debate?

Pankaj Tripathi: Cinema, filmmaking is an art. Film business is the business of art. When business is a part, moral ethics takes a backseat. It’s not a welfare state but we have several examples of people from filmy backgrounds that have not made it. I believe talent and hard work survives. It took me 16 years to reach where I am and that’s okay as it was all organic. I am a result of that struggle. If I am talking to you, my journey speaks for me. I belong to a farmer’s family. Have no links with the industry.. If you search my name on Google, all you will find is about my work. 

'Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl' released on August 12 on Disney+Hotstar. Read our review here.