Pankaj Tripathi's journey: From a farmer's son to one of Bollywood's most versatile actors

Updated: 05 September, 2020 10:09 IST | Nikita Wagh
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    Born on September 5, 1976, Pankaj Tripathi, one of the most sought-after actors currently in Bollywood, hails from Bihar's Belsand village. A farmer's son, as a child growing up in the tiny village, Pankaj was part of a handful of amateur level plays, where he portrayed a girl on stage. For higher studies, Tripathi moved to Patna and that's where his life eventually took a turn. (All pictures/Pankaj Tripathi's official Facebook page and mid-day archives)

    In picture: Pankaj Tripathi with his parents.

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    Tripathi was in Class 12 when he saw the play Andha Kuan and the performance of actor Pranita Jaiswal moved him to tears. From then on, he took such a liking to theatre and he used to cycle his way to watch all stage performances held in Patna, religiously, from 1994-95.

    In picture: Pankaj Tripathi dressed as a woman.

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    Within a few years, he saw himself becoming an artiste. However, the struggle was real! Pankaj Tripathi used to work in a hotel kitchen at night and do theatre in the morning. After finishing his night shift, which he did almost for two years, he used to come back and sleep for five hours and then do theatre in the afternoon till the evening and then again get back to the hotel from 11 pm to 7 am in the morning.

    In picture: Pankaj Tripathi during his NSD days.

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    Soon, Pankaj Tripathi began hunting for places where he could be trained as an actor for free. And that's when he found out about the Delhi-based National School of Drama (NSD), where the basic requirement for enrolment was graduation. "I thought I have to be a graduate if I want to continue acting. After 12th, I stopped studying and had done hotel management training. So I enrolled myself to a college again, completed my graduation in Hindi literature while doing night shift and also plays in the day," he said in an interview. Nawazuddin Siddiqui was his senior in NSD by eight years.

    In picture: Pankaj Tripathi's earlier days in theatre

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    Upon finishing his course at the NSD in 2004, with a lot of dreams in his eyes, he moved to Mumbai on October 16 with Rs 46,000 in his pocket. However, by December 25, Tripathi was left with only Rs 10 with him. "I remember the date because it was my wife's birthday and I didn't even have the money to buy a cake or a gift. When people like me come to this city, after theatre training and life experiences, they always remember important dates," he said.

    In picture: Though the film Run tanked at the Box Office, it has numerable popular scenes that are still popular. One of them being the famous 'kauwa biryani' scene, where Pankaj Tripathi made a blink-and-miss appearance with Vijay Raaz in it.

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    For close to a decade Pankaj Tripathi kept running from one audition to another but 'Gangs Of Wasseypur' finally helped him establish as a performer. His first 10 years in the industry were solely driven by a will to survive and not give up at any cost. Though Tripathi was part of several well-known films such as Run, Apaharan, Shaurya, Chillar Party and Omkara, success eluded him.

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    His priorities were set straight. Tripathi wanted to earn just enough to pay rent. "I didn't come here to become a star. I was clear that I wanted to act and run a family. I knew I can survive in the Hindi cinema through acting," said Pankaj Tripathi, whose life completely changed after playing Sultan Qureshi in Anurag Kashyap's GOW. He went on to give remarkable performances in films such as Masaan, Nil Battey Sannata, Newton, Gurgaon, Bareilly Ki Barfi, Stree, Luka Chuppi, Super 30, to name a few.

    In picture: A still from the 2012 movie Agneepath, where Pankaj Tripathi played the role of Surya, Kaancha Cheena aka Sanjay Dutt's right hand.

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    Pankaj Tripathi nailed the web world too. His role of the godman, Guruji, was the surprise package in Sacred Games. His character of the drug-lord in Mirzapur too was the highlight of the series and his role as Advocate Madhav Mishra in Criminal Justice too was lauded.

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    Very few know that Pankaj Tripathi can dance too. He was seen shaking legs with Sandeepa Dhar in Satish Kaushik's film Kaagaz. Pointing out that few in the industry are aware of his love for dance, Pankaj Tripathi was quoted saying, "I can easily catch the rhythm of a song, and don't take time to learn the choreography." Pankaj would dance at events in his village, and when he was in theatre. He has an inherent rhythm.

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    Another interesting fact about Pankaj Tripathi is that the actor in 2016 played a major part in helping Alia Bhatt get the Bihari accent right for her film Udta Punjab. Director Abhishek Chaubey is a good friend of Tripathi. So, when Chaubey asked Tripathi to help Alia prepare for her role of a Bihari girl, he taught her the language.

    In picture: A still from his latest release Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, where Pankaj Tripathi played Janhvi Kapoor's on-screen father.

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    Pankaj Tripathi has an excellent command over the Hindi language. A Hindi medium student, who went on to pursue a degree in Hindi literature, Pankaj Tripathi truly believes that it is his duty to teach and correct Hindi. Generally, the actor doesn't use common Hindi words while communicating. He uses difficult Hindi words on set, in order to help his fellow actors/crew members improve their language.

    In picture: Pankaj Tripathi's wedding picture

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    Pankaj Tripathi got married in 2004. His wife Mridula Tripathi is a teacher, and during Pankaj's struggling days in Mumbai, she supported him wholeheartedly and looked after the house alone.

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    It was Pankaj Tripathi's sister's wedding in 1993 when he first saw Mridula. She was Tripathi's brother-in-law's sister and being a Brahmin, it was against their traditions to marry in a family where his sister had been married. However, they made it through and have been together for more than two decades.

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    Pankaj Tripathi and Mridula have a daughter - Aashi Tripathi, who is 13. The actor often shares videos and pictures of his family time on Instagram.

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    Pankaj Tripathi says he wants to take up farming after retiring from the world of acting. But for now, he will continue entertaining his fans with his impeccable performances on-screen. Here's wishing a very happy birthday to Pankaj Tripathi!

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About The Gallery

It's Pankaj Tripathi's birthday today. As the actor turns a year older on September 5, 2020, we take a look at his personal and professional life, in pictures.

First Published: 05 September, 2020 07:00 IST