It is tough to talk about Pankaj Tripathi, the actor, when there is so much to talk about Pankaj Tripathi, the person. In a world where we have been forced to stay connected only through video calls and messages, it is surprising that a session on Zoom, the inaugural event of Film Companion’s newly launched film community, Front Row, with almost 300 participants, could be so deeply intimate. The event, a lively conversation between him and Anupama Chopra, followed by interactions with Front Row members, was magical. Tripathi exercises the same, if not more, command over us as himself than as his characters. Throughout the conversation, with sincerity and simplicity, as he always prefers, Tripathi draws us into the pool of his memories and uses them to teach us about the craft of acting, and the craft of personhood.
Here’s some of our favourite moments:
When He Made Us Go From ‘Aww’ to ‘Woah’
Janhvi Kapoor, his Gunjan Saxena co-star, makes an appearance through a voice message, and asks Tripathi about what makes a good actor. He replies, “When I used to go with Babuji to the market or a fair… whilst walking his hand would be behind him, and without saying a word I would hold on to his finger. Neither did Pitaji give me the cue to hold his hand, and neither did I give him a cue that I wanted to hold his hand. The two of us would just go on walking… similarly, the audience shouldn’t realise when they come within our grasp, and have held on to our finger.”
When He Acknowledged Toxic Masculinity In Upbringing
When asked about how he is as a husband, Tripathi said, “When we play characters, we understand other people’s problems. This helps me become a better husband. I wasn’t born a good husband. I was born with the upbringing you can expect… But through books, through art, through acting… I became a better person. I’m still in the process of learning and growing. Between birth and death, you just have to explore— rivers, trees, mountains, emotions, your body.”
When He Became Pankaj Tripathi the Poet
Tripathi gave us an insight into creative collaboration with a beautiful metaphor, “The relationship between a director and an actor is that of lovers— it is based on trust”. That’s literary AF.
When He Won Hearts with his Humour
Whilst interacting with the audience, a fan of Tripathi mentioned being a ‘chotta aadmi’ a couple of times, and Tripathi as a ‘bada aadmi’. Tripathi began his reply to the question by saying, “You said twice that you’re a small person but there’s no such thing. Generally, people are between 5 and 7 feet”. He rejected any sort of patronising, in favour of a disarming, and oddly insightful, joke.
When The Audience Wanted a Spin-Off
It’s not everyday when one audience member suggests that someone should make an entire T-shirt line out of Pankaj Tripathi quotes from real, and not reel, life. Later, another said they would do anything to hear Tripathi all day on a podcast. Everyone seemed to agree. Who knows? Maybe we planted the seed of an idea that’ll lead to anything from a Pankaj Tripathi podcast to a Pankaj Tripathi fashion line!
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