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Updated January 12th, 2024 at 12:49 IST

Local Is Global: Pankaj Tripathi Opens Up About Waning Elitism In India

“The elitism has broken down now. Times have changed, stories have changed," Pankaj said musing on how Bollywood makers are looking at heartland stories.

Pankaj Tripathi With Arnab
Pankaj Tripathi With Arnab | Image:Republic Digital
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Pankaj Tripathi is gearing up for the release of his upcoming film Main Atal Hoon, a biopic based on the life of former Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The film is slated to release in theatres on January 19. The actor, who was the 'first and only pick' for the biopic, has time and again garnered praise for his humble lifestyle and his exceptional acting skills. Speaking about how his demeanour is an integral part of his popularity, Tripathi, in an exclusive conversation with Republic Media Network's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami on Nation Wants To Know, shared that he would not be the same if he were to let go of his individuality.  

Main Atal Hoon Poster | Image: Pankaj Tripathi/Instagram

  

I present myself with pride: Pankaj Tripathi

The National Award winner spoke about the new-found pride Indians have taken in their culture and ethos, including the desire to own the desi accent, which Tripathi has embraced wholeheartedly and with great pride. Commenting on the matter, he shared, “The elitism has broken down now. Times have changed, stories have changed. In the world I come from, there was not a single day where I felt tempted to pretend or feel like it (today). I was sure I wanted to be this way and present myself with pride.”

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

Tripathi opined that authenticity is a big factor behind his success in the showbiz world. “Agar main badla toh mai bikhar jaunga (If I change myself, I will fall apart. I wouldn’t be successful),” he shared.

You are unique, that’s why you are special: Pankaj Tripathi recalls what his teacher taught him

While speaking on the subject of staying true to oneself, the Mirzapur star took the moment to thank one of his teachers who taught him to respect his individuality. “They taught me, ‘Of all the people in the world, you are one of a kind. You are unique, that’s why you are special. You don’t need to be like someone else,’” he said.

Tripathi also opened up about the experiences that taught him to acknowledge and embrace the importance of India’s diversity. He said, “When I was in drama school, we had people from several states. I had a batchmate from Assam as well. It is through all my batchmates I realised India is such a diverse country."

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The shift in narrative: Bringing the living reality of India back into focus in cinema

When emphasised how shows like Panchayat and movies OMG 2 and Main Atal Hoon are bringing to screen the living reality of India instead of fantasy stories, Pankaj shared that his last release, OMG 2 was also an effort in the same direction. The film touched upon the issue of sex education in schools and the lack of discussion around it at home.

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Pankaj Tripathi in a still from OMG 2 | Image: YouTube screengrab

"In OMG 2 climax, we have shown how when Thomas Babington Macaulay was making the education policy in India, he dubbed the culture as of no use. They took the best of epics that depicted the Sanatana Dharma in all its glory and dubbed us as backward. When I took up the movie, I realised that the intent of the film is not to create sensationalism but to bring awareness about sex education, initiate a conversation around it and it binds the subject with Sanatana Dharma in an effective way," the actor shared.

The world audience wants to know our stories: Tripathi

Tripathi agreed with the opinion that while on one hand, Indian filmmakers are exploring the fantasy world through their lens, a large section of the audiences abroad are keen on stories rooted in real India. He attributed the shift in storytelling to the global acceptance of Indian cinema.  

File photo of Pankaj Tripathi | Image: Pankaj Tripathi/Instagram

"The stories are rooted in our reality. What is local is global is the motto in the films as well. Our films are being screened at international film festivals. I have heard that Mirzapur will be dubbed in other languages for foreign audiences. When Newton was screened at the Berlin Film Festival, the audience members and the festival jury were keen to know the real story and the electoral process of India," Tripathi concluded.

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Published January 12th, 2024 at 12:49 IST

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