"Aap akele rehte hain?"
"Nahi, hum pitaji ke saath rehte hain. Pitaji akele rehte hain."
Bollywood's celebrated actor Pankaj Tripathi turned 44 on Saturday (September 5).
Tripathi is like the seasoning that enhances the essence of cuisine when sprinkled in moderate amounts. Tripathi stepped into the Hindi film industry with a brief, uncredited appearance with Vijay Raaz in the famous 'kauwa biryani' scene in Run.
But what really turned out to be a game-changer for him as well as the lovers of cinema was when the actor landed the meaty role of Sultan Qureshi in Anurag Kashyap's Gangs of Wasseypur 1 and 2. Since then the actor hasn't looked back and Kaleen Bhaiyya has become a regular in Bollywood movies, fixing himself a permanent spot in the list of "underrated" actors in India-- a collage that pops up on our social media timelines every so often.
However, it's the tiny roles portrayed by Tripathi that leave a long-lasting impression on his fans. Remember his 2 scene-role as Satya ji in Masaan?
But the actor isn't complaining. In fact, the roles Tripathi puts his art into, do not happen by chance, but choice.
Opening up in a candid interview with film critic Anupama Chopra, Tripathi narrated why he chose to turn down the lengthier role of Vidyadhar Pathak played by Sanjay Mishra in Masaan.
Anupama Chopra: "Ek script padh ke, actor jo footage kam wala role kaise choose karta hai? (How does an actor choose a shorter role after reading the script?)"
Pankaj Tripathi: "Mujhe na aksar lagta hai ki yaar, match mein maza tabhi ho jab ek ball pe 6 run banane ho. Aakhri ball hai. Toh mujhe hamesha se chote kirdaar bada attract karta hai. Ki yaar ismein possibility kam hai. Lekin mujhe pata hai main ismein bhi kuch kar lunga. (What I feel is, the match gets interesting only when you have to hit a six on the last ball. That's why these small roles attract me more. The possibility in such roles is limited but I know that I will do a good job of it.)"
Chopra further asked the actor if it had ever happened that people avoided him because of how he had become such a scene-stealer to which Tripathi instantly replied with a witty response: "Nahi nahi. Mujhe jis din pata chalega ki katra rahe hain main turant average acting karne lagunga. (No, no. The day I find out that people are avoiding me, I'll start doing average acting.)"
Happy birthday, Pankaj Tripathi. Here's to seeing you more or perhaps lesser, as you like it, in Bollywood movies.