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People used to come to me with a script and also a knife in hand – Beyond Bollywood

The popular and acclaimed actor reveals how after Gangs of Wasseypur, Mirzapur, he was flooded with gangster roles.

Pankaj Tripathi in Gangs of Wasseypur [2012]

By Mayur Lookhar

Talk of versatile actors and there are very few like Pankaj Tripathi. After initially excelling in negative roles, Tripathi has shown his versatility by shining in positive characters in films like Bareilly Ki Barfi [2017], Mimi [2021], Sherdil: The Pilibhit Saga [2022].

Tripathi plays the lead, a positive character in the upcoming release OMG 2 [2023]. In a group interview, Tripathi recalled the period where he did work by the dozens and was often offered similar negative roles.  Did he ever worry about getting repetitive?

“I got tired,” Tripathi humbly stated. He adds, “I was taking up too much work. Acting is not to be done for 30 days a month/ 12 months. My workload had increased. Look there is a painting there. Now you’ll need to devote time to observe it carefully. From this distance, you can only see few colours, but if you stand in front of it and devote five minutes, you’ll observe many things. My acting is like that painting. You will have to wait to gauge it.”

Recalling the bizarre offers, Tripathi disclosed, “After Wasseypur, some people used to bring knife to narrate a script. They would say it is a butcher’s role and this [knife] is your prop. I would tell them you could have given this on the sets. They were of the view that I would feel good by holding it.”

The actors revealed how post Mirzapur, he was offered several gangster roles.  The writers/filmmakers made a hard pitching reminding the actor that how he hasn’t played a gangster from Madhya Pradesh.

“I would remind them that I’ve played a UP gangster before but they would insist that this is different. Now, I like to hold back. I want one off a week, a monthly vacation. I’ve imbibed these good habits from Akshay Kumar,” affirmed Tripathi.

Pankaj Tripathi in OMG 2 [2023]

OMG 2 is a quirky court room drama with Tripathi’s leading character Kanti Sharan Mudgal locked in a legal battle to save his son’s future. A little intimate video of his son has gone viral which has led to him being suspended from school. As observed in the teaser and then the trailer, Mudgal initially slams his son’s actions but later resorts to Sutra-verse to defend his son.

Based on the teaser, trailer, there appears to be a change in character arc. Is this shift an overnight development, or an organic story progression? We asked Tripathi.

“No overnight development but a story progression. When you see the film, you’ll have your answer then,” said Tripathi.

But did Tripathi question his writer/director at the scripting stage?

“Yes, there were. We do have self-censor. When there are doubts, I do ask the director what is the purpose of this scene. Why should I say a particular line? Is it only aimed to create sensationalism? [Director] Amit Rai had penned a particular line, which had some reference to Upanishad.  I asked him whether there really is such a line in the Upanishad? He said yes and so I asked him to send the book.”

Though he doesn’t have directorial ambitions yet, but Tripathi revealed that he isn’t afraid to ask a question or add any input, of course with the consent of the director. All this reflects Tripathi’s professionalism as an actor. How he is meticulous in the way he picks his roles.

OMG 2 is set to be released in theatres on 11 August.

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