'Good marketing makes you a star'

'Good marketing makes you a star'

Method actor

It was the character of Sultan Qureshi in Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur that gave Pankaj Tripathi much-deserved attention. His methodical acting had added life to revenge-hungry Sultan, but the bane of this fame was that he was flooded with similar offers. He hopes to break this image in his upcoming film Nil Battey Sannata where he is a playing a government school teacher. In a candid conversation with Metrolife, he tells Shilpa Raina about his journey, struggle, and how marketing and an active public relation (PR) team can make anyone a star.

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On his journey: I didn’t know that I will become an actor. Till I was in class 10th, I hadn’t seen a film because there wasn’t a cinema hall in my village in Bihar. I used to participate in village plays, but had no idea there was a big world out there. It was only after my parents sent me to a college in Patna, I was introduced to street theatre.  From there, I applied to the National School of Drama and in my third attempt cleared the test and joined the institute. After finishing the course, I came back to Patna, but realised that an actor can’t live on Hindi theatre alone. It doesn’t provide you steady income. So, I decided to move to Mumbai.

* After reaching Mumbai: I was mentally prepared that things wouldn’t be easy because I come from a non-film background. All I knew was that I had to find ways to survive in the city. I knew that my identity would be vanished in this big city, but I was sure about my craft (acting). It took me a year to know which director sat where. I would stand for hours in front of director’s office, hoping they would spot me. In the meantime, I got an advertisement Jago Re (Tata Tea) and it became quite popular... it helped me sustain in the city.

* On challenges faced in the industry: I am comfortable about my craft, but the thing is that showbiz is marketing and PR driven. The more you are talked about, the more you are considered a star. And those who are stars are paid well, compared to the ones who are good in their work, but don’t know the art of marketing. But in the end, audience can reject you, so performance does matter.

* On getting into the skin of the character: I always try to understand what hasn’t been said or written about my role. For example, if I am doing a villainous role, I try to understand their human side. I try to imagine their history and why they behave in a typical manner. In this way, one is able to do justice to the role and develop a character.

* On new age film-makers: This is the best time to be in films because young directors are trying new ways of  storytelling. They are breaking conventional rules and are experimenting. Similarly, our audience too is changing. This has a lot to do with the internet because it has made our world smaller. Now, one can watch international cinema and fill in the gaps. I am not saying that commercial cinema is bad. We need commercial cinema to run our theatres and multiplexes, but even commercial directors are trying new ways of storytelling.

* On his wish list: I want to work with Anurag Basu, Neeraj Pandey and Imtiaz Ali because they are excellent storytellers.

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