The super-versatile, self-effacing and insanely humble actor Pankaj Tripathy - last seen in Kagaz playing a man who is declared dead by the government trying to prove he is alive - is back with Mimi.
“And this time I can tell you, I’ve had so much fun. It’s a film about child surrogacy. But it doesn’t take itself too seriously. There is no lecturebaazi on morality. It just moves to its own rhythm. Mujhe bada maza aaya iss film me kaam karke,” I can hear the joy in Pankaj’s voice.
He had a lovely time shooting with his pretty co-star. “Kriti Sanon is an educated, well-read, articulate actress. She is not an airhead. She knows what she's doing. Working with her was such a joy. Most of our scenes are together. At one point in the storytelling, she tells everyone that I am the father of her unborn child, when in fact I am not. It is a story that has lots of unpredictable twists and turns. Kriti and I would speak on so many subjects other than cinema. Aaj kal ke young actors sirf cinema ke baare mein nahin jaante. They are aware of the world around them.”
Pankaj says he is fortunate to work with good actors. “I am very lucky with my co-stars especially female actors. I enjoyed working with Janhvi Kapoor so much in Gunjan Saxena and Richa Chadha in Shakeela. In Mimi, I have Kriti as my co-star and another very talented actress Sai Tamhankar. She is a well-known name in Marathi cinema. Then there is Supriya Pathak, another favourite of mine. You can imagine shooting for Mimi was like a dream come true for me.”
Pankaj feels having talented co-stars makes the actor’s job so much easier. “One really can’t do anything on one’s own. Every good actor needs competent co-stars. When you have Sai, Surpriya, Kriti and Manoj Pawa, as I did in Mimi, your job is so much easier and so much more enjoyable.”
Pankaj spent a lot of time speaking with Supriya Pathak. “She is so talented and so underused. I’d just sit and hear her talk, as she shared her experiences, so much to say, so much to give. I felt like a student in front of her.”
The actor par excellence also has the fondest thoughts on his Mimi director. “Just like me, Laxman Utekar is from rural India. He is from the interiors of Maharashtra and I am from Bihar. We had a lot of things in common.”
Laxman allowed Pankaj to improvise. “I wouldn’t change scenes. But I do change words in my dialogues until they sound like my own words, not something that comes out of a laptop.”
Pankaj has tried something new in Mimi. “For the first time I’ve let myself go. I’ve let the emotions flow. Usually I like to keep it all under check. I am not an actor who enjoys a display of emotions. But in Mimi I’ve shown my character’s feelings more strongly than ever before.”
The other pleasure of shooting Mimi was the locations. “We shot in a village called Churni in Rajasthan. The entire district is filled with history. I am a crazy fan of heritage homes.Every day after shooting I would take off to visit the old havelis. Each one had its own story to tell.”
However, the one thing that really sets Mimi aside from Pankaj’s other assignments -- “I play the leading man, not the heroine’s father, not the hero’s mentor. It is a refreshing change. From playing bit roles, any and everything that came my way, to the lead… I look back at my journey with pride and humility. I never planned anything. I kept acting in whatever films came my way because I love to act. I never thought I would get better roles. Because I didn’t think of roles as good or bad. They were an opportunity to act.”
Kriti Sanon and Pankaj Tripathi-starrer Mimi was scheduled to release on Jio Cinemas and Netflix on July 30. However, the film’s makers have decided to release the film early - on July 26 - due to an online leak. The movie is now streaming on Netflix.
Image source: instagram/pankajtripathi/kritisanon/youtube/NetflixIndia/SpotboyE