A natural actor who has carved a name for himself by his ability to portray a wide range of characters, Pankaj Tripathi, is now a leading Bollywood name. A firm believer in constantly honing his craft and sheer dedication to his field has seen him emerge as one of the finest B-Town actors. Here, we take a look at his journey to success.
Pankaj Tripathi was born in Belsand (Gopalganj district), Bihar on 5 September 1976 to his father Pandit Banaras Tripathi, a farmer who has also ordained as a priest and mother Hemwanti Devi. He has 3 elder brothers and 2 elder sisters.
He completed his schooling from D.P.H. school in Gopalganj, Bihar where he was till class X. Pankaj always had the theatre bug inside him and would often take part in the ‘annual natak’ during ‘chhath puja’. Knowing his father wanted him to become a doctor, he left for Patna.
In Patna, while attending college, Pankaj got interested in theatre and politics, he became a part of the ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad). Here, he learned to speak Hindi. (his mother tongue being Bhojpuri)
In 1993, while participating in a rally against political leader Lalu Prasad Yadav, Pankaj was jailed for seven days. As a political prisoner, he was given access to the library which is what led to a massive cultural transformation with immense exposure to Indian and Western literature.
Another turning point in his life occurred when he had the chance to watch Laxami Narayan Rai’s play, Andha Kuan. Experiencing the power of theatre and its ability to sweep the audience in a wave of emotions, Pankaj became an avid theatre goer and even joined the Bihar Art Theatre.
His love for the field was so strong that Pankaj was ready to overcome any barrier. He would travel to his village via a night train from Patna every month to bring back simple ingredients to make food for himself, which he continued for a year.
As time went by and the acting field didn’t bring any promising return, Pankaj started to waver and did a hotel management course at Food Craft Institute in Patna. He worked in the kitchens at Maurya Hotel Patna at night and pursued his love for theatre in the morning, a routine he followed for almost 2 years.
He applied to the prestigious National School of Drama in Delhi where his application was rejected twice before he successfully got in the third time. After graduating from NSD, he returned to Bihar to pursue theatre but realised that while it was his calling, he still had ways to go in terms of generating an income.
This realisation brought him to Mumbai where he started auditioning for any role that came his way, no matter how small. While he appeared in many small roles, it was his stint in Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur in 2012 that got him the attention and recognition he desired.
Since then there has been no looking back for the actor who has been part of several critically-acclaimed and commercially successful films, including Newton which was nominated for in the best foreign film category at the Oscars.
From waiting for a single audition call, Pankaj now finds himself unable to return every call that comes his way. Several roles in prominent films such as Luka Chuppi, Nil Battey Sannata, along with upcoming biggies such as Kaala, Super 30, and Drive ensure he has enough on his plate to keep him busy while doing quality work. His sensational performance in the web series Criminal Justice has also brought him a lot of adulation.