Pankaj Tripathi on his Criminal Justice role: NSD friends said it was my most nuanced act

Updated: 17 February, 2020 10:41 IST | Mohar Basu | Mumbai

Nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category in the upcoming mid-day and Radio City Hitlist Web Awards, Pankaj Tripathi reflects on his Criminal Justice role

Pankaj Tripathi in Criminal Justice
Pankaj Tripathi in Criminal Justice

picPankaj Tripathi is a man of few words. But mention Madhav Mishra, his character in Hotstar's Criminal Justice, and his eyes light up. "When Sridhar Raghavan [writer] came to me with the script, I knew I wanted to do it. I saw the possibility of adding layers to the character and enhancing it," he says of the show that has earned him a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the upcoming mid-day and Radio City Hitlist Web Awards.

Over the last few years, the actor has been the face of some memorable characters in digital entertainment — be it Kaleen Bhaiyya of Mirzapur or Guruji of Sacred Games 2. He analyses that the long-format shows give actors the opportunity to delve deeper into their roles. "I drew personal parallels with Madhav. To me, he is the same man that I was 10 years ago. He is a struggling lawyer like I was a struggling actor. So, I mirrored my own feelings on screen."

Tripathi, who has already shot for the second season of the Vikrant Massey-fronted series, admits that he has maintained a studied distance from the British original that it is inspired by. "I wanted to approach it with a new vision. I don't believe in referencing from movies or series. Our show is filled with scenes that have been improvised on set. There's a scene in which I ask Vikrant to plead guilty to the murder, but he refuses to do so. In the next shot, my character comes home and notices that his eczema is spreading rapidly. The scene has no dialogue, but there's such depth to it. Many of my NSD [National School of Drama] friends called to tell me that they enjoyed the show. Since they are formally trained in acting, they noticed minute elements of my performance. They called it one of my most nuanced acts," he beams with pride.

More about Criminal Justice

  • The show is an adaptation of the 2008 series Criminal Justice, which also inspired the miniseries, The Night of (2016), starring Riz Ahmed
  • Jackie Shroff and Dibyendu Bhattacharya play arch-rivals in the series. Interestingly, in the past, both actors have played Chunni Babu in two different adaptations of Devdas

Cast your vote for the Hitlist Web Awards

Pankaj Tripathi has been nominated in the Best Supporting Actor (Male) category for Hostar's Criminal Justice. The other nominees are:

  • Rajesh Tailang (Selection Day S02; Netflix)
  • Vinay Pathak (Made in Heaven; Amazon Prime)
  • Neeraj Madhav (The Family Man; Amazon Prime)
  • Sharib Hashmi (The Family Man; Amazon Prime)
  • Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub (Rangbaaz Phir Se; Zee5)
  • Gopal Dutt (The Office; Hotstar)
  • There are 14 categories that the public can vote in. Log on to to cast your vote.
  • You can also vote via SMS. Send HITLIST <space> category name <space> your choice (a/b/c/d as on the website) to 57575.
  • Voting lines close on March 8.

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First Published: 17 February, 2020 07:22 IST

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