Caste, Religion Can't Matter When Electing Leader: Pankaj Tripathi

Ahead of Mirzapur 2's premiere, Pankaj Tripathi talks about how he uses cinema for social commentary.

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After the massive success of the first season of Mirzapur, the second season is all set to premiere on Amazon Prime Video on 23 October. The series is packed with action and twists and is bound to leave one on the edge of one's seat.

The Quint spoke with Pankaj Tripathi about how he prepared for his character, the success of the first season and the upcoming Bihar elections.

The first season got an overwhelming response. When you read the script did it take time for you to understand the world ‘Mirzapur’ tries to show, with all the conspiracy and political nexus?

Pankaj Tripathi: No, I was well-versed. I have been a part of student demonstrations and while I was in college, I was active in student politics too. I have also read a lot of books about politics. There’s a novel called ‘Raag Darbari’ by Shrilal Shukla, which is a beautiful satire.

Did things change after ‘Mirzapur’ for you? Is it difficult to refuse parts when they are offered to you now?

Pankaj Tripathi: Saying no is very difficult for me. Time is a huge issue. There are 365 days in a year and that’s about it. Already my entire 2021 is packed. It’s difficult to refuse work. I have waited for 10 to 12 years for work to come to me in Mumbai, and today when someone offers work to me it’s difficult to refuse. Sometimes people don’t understand, they think I am lying. During the lockdown, I realised that one should take time out for oneself also, at least take a weekly off. I had not taken a weekly off in the past two years. Now I have come to realise the quality of life.

Are there makers who are willing to wait for your dates to collaborate with you?

Pankaj Tripathi: Absolutely. There are people who say that we will work out according to you. If you’re free in 2022, then we’ll work then. I have got a lot of love from this industry after my struggle period. I was struggling in the industry for a long time. But all the love that I get now leaves me humbled. Now I feel that it’s a part of the process, you have to go through it. If you get something in your lap, you won’t value it.

Talking about Bihar, elections are coming up soon and ‘Mirzapur’ explores the political nexus in the region. What kind of similarities do you draw from what the show tries to show and the Bihar of today?

Pankaj Tripathi: A lot has changed. I remember one election from when I was young. TN Seshan was the election commissioner, he helped with reforms in Bihar. At that time boot capturing was a major concern. Now it’s difficult. In ‘Newton’ we had a very interesting dialogue, “A goon might get elected but we won’t tolerate hooliganism in elections.”

You spoke about caste differences; in Bihar, we still see casteism is an issue. Even at home, people keep separate utensils etc - those practices exist. How do you try to push the dialogue beyond from your end?

Pankaj Tripathi: I am an actor and storyteller, so we do it through stories. The message and satire reach through stories. In ‘Mirzapur 2’, after consulting the writers I added two characters. They are essential for the scene but more than that it’s a social commentary. I am trying. Now people might take it as satire or humour, that’s up to them. I am not associated with a political party, so I try doing it through my work. In this season of ‘Mirzapur’, we see politics as well.

Have you witnessed any image-enhancement strategies when you were a part of student politics?

Pankaj Tripathi: Today the whole world is about the image you create, not just politics. Cinema, corporates…all sectors spend on image building. It’s a business now. I can say that even for myself. I also talk about reading books, talk about grassroots and try to break the image of how actors are presented. Trying to break that also could be a way of image enhancement - that I am not a routine actor, I am different.

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