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Updated January 13th, 2024 at 14:00 IST

Is Bollywood Opportunist? ‘Thodi Nahi, Bahut Hai,’ Pankaj Tripathi Tells Arnab

Through the 2000s, Bollywood followed a trajectory of glorifying violence with the release of gangster dramas. Of late, the focus is on nationalist stories.

Actor Pankaj Tripathi
Actor Pankaj Tripathi | Image:Republic
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Pankaj Tripathi is currently gearing up for the release of his first biographical project, Main Atal Hoon, which will feature the Mirzapur actor as the former Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Ahead of the film's January 19 release, Tripathi shared his views on how the audiences have become more accepting of narratives that aim to break the mould.

Pankaj Tripathi in a still from Ludo | Image: Pankaj Tripathi/Instagram

Cinema is the business of art: Pankaj Tripathi

In an exclusive interview with Republic Media Network's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami on Nation Wants To Know, the OMG 2 star was posed with a question about the evolution of the kind of cinema that is being presented to urban audiences and its reception.

Through the 2000s, Bollywood followed a trajectory of glorifying violence, brawn and the illicit with the constant churning of gangster dramas — Shootout At Lokhandwala, Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, which lured in audiences with shock value. Of late, there’s been more focus on heartland stories and cinematisation of events and figures of national relevance. So, ‘Is Bollywood opportunist?' asked Arnab. To this, Pankaj promptly answered, “thodi nahi, bahut hai.”

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The actor shared in Hindi, which roughly translates to, "Call it a business, because cinema is the business of art. I do not consider myself an expert on cinema and content, but I used to find myself wondering 'Does the audience really want this?'...How do the producers know? When one film is declared a box office hit, ten more similar projects are lined up to cash in on the trend.” “The acceptance of one film by the audience is treated as a benchmark of the kind of content they want to see and subsequently, more films of the same kind are produced.”

Pankaj Tripathi in a still from Kadak Singh | Image: Pankaj Tripathi/Instagram

Citing examples of Ram Gopal Varma's Satya (1998) and Anurag Kashyap's Gangs of Wasseypur (2012), Tripathi further elaborated how choosing to invest time and money in a film or a cast member, is a combined result of the maker’s personal experiences, ideological leanings and a grasp of the market and the what the audiences are craving for.

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Elaborating further, Tripathi attributed Bollywood's recent spate of nationalistic projects to the government's stance on Indians embracing their roots and culture.

So will the narrative change if the Congress comes to power? Arnab asked Pankaj. In reply, Tripathi said he doesn’t know. He then promised to continue being a part of stories that inspire him. 

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Published January 13th, 2024 at 14:00 IST

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