Acclaimed actor Pankaj Tripathi is enjoying a surge in popularity thanks to streaming. He says he will use that to portray entertaining roles with a social message.
He regaled a regaled a packed house in a Masterclass on The Craft of Cinema – Character Development. The session, moderated by Gaurav Gandhi, VP, Prime Video, India was held on the side-lines of the 83rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI).
After years of struggle, the actor is now experiencing unprecedented visibility with multiple seasons of his streaming shows “Mirzapur” (Amazon Prime Video), “Sacred Games” (Netflix) and “Criminal Justice India” (Disney+ Hotstar) and sequels to movies like “Fukrey” and “Stree.”
Trained at India’s National School of Drama, Tripathi said he considered careers in farming, medicine and politics before committing himself to cinema. Responding to an audience question on how formal training helps in getting a role, Tripathi said, “It helps after you get cast, with your performance.”
From theatre to film, Tripathi moved to Mumbai and began working in 2004, making a major breakthrough in Anurag Kasyap’s “Gangs of Wasseypur” (Cannes Film Festival Director’s Fortnight, 2012). Since then, he has appeared in movies such as “Masaan” (which also debuted at Cannes, in 2015), “Newton” (Berlin festival, 2017) and cricket biopic “83” in which he played the Indian team manager.
The 46-year-old said, “With popularity I feel I need to be more careful about choosing scripts. I now look for roles and projects that are entertaining, but also have some social message or subtext.”
Comparing the OTT [streaming] space to movie roles he said, “OTT allows space for writing and character development. Playing grays is more challenging than playing black or white, and this has become more possible with web series where subplots are developed.”
Known for his easy-going style and improvisations, Tripathi pointed out that while it takes a finite amount of time to prepare for a particular character, an actor prepares all his life. “Acting may look natural, but it is not. Internal and external training is required,” he said.
His final advice to aspiring actors in the audience was: “Through minimum, do maximum and believe in the economy of gestures.”