It was in 2004 that actor Pankaj Tripathi made his Bollywood debut with a minor role in the movie Run.
However, it was his role in Gangs of Wasseypur that finally got the audience to sit up and take note of his talent. Since then, Pankaj Tripathi has continued to give one outstanding performance after the other and in fact, he even won the National Film Award – Special Mention for his role in Newton that was India's official entry to the Oscars.
Besides these notable performances, however, Pankaj has left his mark in movies and shows you may have missed, but should know about.
The winner of 2007 National Film Award for the best feature film on national integration, Dharm starred Supriya Pathak and Pankaj Tripathi (in a supporting role as Suryaprakash). The movie directed by debut director Bhavna Talwar questioned the true meaning of religion. The movie is available on Netflix to watch.
In 2008, Mithya was considered to be the movie that helped make parallel cinema a comeback in Bollywood. Starring Ranveer Shorey and Naseeruddin Shah in lead roles, the movie was a unique take on the famous Don story (that originally starred Amitabh Bachchan and was recreated with Shah Rukh Khan). Even though Pankaj Tripathi had a small role to play, he managed to prove his mettle as an actor, even when sharing screen space with seasoned actors like Saurabh Shukla, Harsh Chayya, Vinay Pathak.
Before Gangs of Wasseypur launched Pankaj Tripathi as a Bollywood crimelord, it was the show Powder that showcased Pankaj Tripathi's acting prowess. As Naved, Pankaj Tripathi's performance was layered, and he managed to create a villain that people were scared of and yet unwittingly sympathized with. You can watch the show on Netflix.
Another movie that was a perfect ode to Pankaj Tripathi's innate talent was Gurgaon. It is actually a testament to his talent as an actor, that despite playing characters that appear similar on paper, his performance on screen never feels repetitive. Just like in Gurgaon, where he internalized the character's emotions and gave a restrained performance as the real estate tycoon whose daughter gets kidnapped. The movie is available on Netflix.
This thriller drama, starring Sumeet Nijhawan and Mona Wasu in lead roles, and Pankaj Tripathi, Zakir Hussain, and Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub in supporting roles received great critical acclaim but failed to be a commercial hit due to limited release. The movie, by debut director Jaideep Chopra, was lauded for being an exceptionally well-crafted thriller and revolved around a family's struggle to deal with an unexpected tragedy. The movie is available on YouTube.
6. Anwar Ka Ajab Kissa
Starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the lead role, this dark comedy premiered at the 2013 BFI London Film Festival, though it never got a commercial release in India. The movie also starred Pankaj Tripathi and Ananya Chatterjee, and marked the return of director Buddhadeb Dasgupta to Hindi cinema. The movie is about a detective who decides to investigate his own life and the results that follow.
7. Global Baba
Based on the spiritual babas that are so unique to Indian culture, Global Baba stars Abhimanyu Singh, Pankaj Tripathi, Sanjay Mishra, and Ravi Kishan. According to critics, the satirical comedy greatly benefited from a dependable starcast 'led by Pankaj Tripathi', though some reviewers did believe that the idea did not translate well into the script.
8. Coffee with D
Even though this satirical drama failed commercially, it did boast of brilliant performances by actors Sunil Grover, Zakir Hussain, and Pankaj Tripathi. The movie - that deals with an ambitious news anchor and his hunt for an 'ideal interviewee' - was appreciated for the subject choice but not the treatment.
A romantic drama, the Telugu film Doosukeltha was a box office hit, starring Vishnu Manchu and Lavanya Tripathi in lead roles. Pankaj Tripathi played the role of the antagonist Minister Dilleeswara Rao and his nuanced performance was greatly appreciated.
10. Sarojini - Ek Nayi Pehal
This drama series starred Shiny Doshi, Mohit Sehgal and Pankaj Tripathi in lead roles. The show followed the struggles of the lead character against the patriarchal setup of the family she is married in. Pankaj Tripathi played the antagonist and he shined in his role without resorting to melodramatic performance (a feature common in many Hindi soap operas).
Masaan was easily one of the finest movies of 2015, and people could not get over the excellent performances by Vicky Kaushal and Richa Chadha. However, Pankaj Tripathi's subtle performance - in just two scenes - is strikingly impactful as well. The movie builds you up to believe that he too may take advantage of Devi (Richa Chadha), but he comes out at as a shy, slightly reserved, but an altogether warm person - whose softness tugs at your heartstrings and forces a reluctant smile on your face.
No matter how small the role, Pankaj Tripathi's performance is always a delight to watch, because he always stays true to his craft. We're just glad that his talent has finally got the recognition it deserves.