Pankaj Tripathi got in a year what many artistes spend their entire career wishing for - critical acclaim and commercial success at the same time. His August release, OMG 2, emerged a hit, and soon after, he won the National Award for his supporting act in Mimi (2021). Have these accomplishments altered his approach towards his career? "You're talking about films, and here I'm thinking of doing a play next year," Tripathi says with endearing simplicity, as we sit down to chat about his next,
While one would expect him to sign big films after the success of OMG 2 and Fukrey 3, the actor is staying true to his mantra of work-life balance. "I have done a lot of work on screen. So, I want to act on stage now. I don't take load; we can complicate or simplify our life as we want. When I am not acting, I'm growing plants, vegetables and fruits. But I talk less about my farming background, otherwise, people will make reels on it and say, âSee, a farmer's son became an actor,'" he laughs.
That said, the actor acknowledges that the box-office successes have brought him more opportunities. So much so that his date diary is chock-a-block. "I am getting a lot of offers since the success of OMG 2. A few days ago, when I told a producer that I don't have dates, he offered me more money. I asked him, âHow will more money ensure dates? I won't leave the project that I am doing.'"
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Novel stories, not money, lure Tripathi. He says Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury's directorial venture Kadak Singh boasted a gripping story. More importantly, the ZEE5 thriller gave him a chance to shed his on-screen image of a funny, small-town man. "I get more or less [similar] types of scripts. Either they are Mirzapur or Criminal Justice type, or the character will be a middle-aged man who is someone's father and is humorous. Here, none of those [tropes] was present. Also, I was so spoilt doing comedy that I'd need humour even in a serious scene. Many directors tell me, âDo your trademark [humour].' But here, I didn't use my best-selling item. I realised this was a chance to experiment."
We can't end our conversation without talking about the National Award win, his second after Newton (2017). Its mention brings a smile on the actor's face, making evident its significance in his life. "It's not sponsored by a company. There is no brand logo on it, unlike other awards. It has Ashoka Chakra on it. It's a national honour."