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Life is the best teacher

With Stree raking in fabulous numbers at the box office, Titas Chowdhury spoke to actor Pankaj Tripathi, who played Rudra Bhaiyya,  about his experience of being a part of this horror-comedy. 

On The Brief

The brief given to me for my character Rudra was that when the kids of the town come to the local spirit expert to protect them from Stree, he helps them out. I loved the concept. Baaki unhone (Amar Kaushik) yeh kaha ki yeh ek funkaar aadmi hai. He told me to come to the set and add something of my own to the character.

On The Process

I did a lot of improvisations. I do that with all of my characters. I try not to deviate too much and stick to the script. The line in the film, ‘Sabka aadhaar link hai uske paas’ and ‘Yes means yes’ were my additions. First time dekha tujhe love ho gaya, second time mein sab ho gaya. Kahaan jaa rahi hai humaari yuva peedhi?’ was also an improvisation. These lines were not part of the original script. I was in the mood and just said these lines. They liked them and so they planned to keep them in the film.

I did not have to make any extra preparations for my character. I come from a small village and that served as preparation for me. But if the role is serious and layered, the task gets bigger. Stree is a lighter film, so I did not have to work too hard. Character ke preparation mein kam waqt lagta hai, actor ke preparation mein zyaada waqt lagta hai.

On The Challenges

The biggest challenge was managing the dates. I had to give up a film for Stree. Also during the shoot of Stree, I was also doing Anubhav Sinha’s Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai. So I had to travel between Lucknow and Chanderi. That was a big challenge.

Apart from that, my look for both films was different. I asked Amar to make a snug gown for me. Since I play a literate person, it would give me the right look. As an actor, I get involved in other departments too, like costumes and the look. We were in charge of small things that would make me look different. The glasses were Amar’s idea. The writers created a very interesting screenplay in terms of its flow. It was a collaborative effort. The DoP did a great job too.

On The Director

I had once watched a short film directed by Amar called Aaba in Berlin. It received an award at the Berlin International Festival. I loved the film and his work in it. I loved working with him. Not only is he a good director, but also an amazing human being. He listens to his actors and gives them space. There were small punch lines here and there that I had used. Everyone on the sets began laughing when they heard these lines and so he decided to use them in the film.

On The Co-Actors

My chemistry with Rajkummar (Rao), Aparshakti (Khurana) and Abhishek (Banerjee) off-screen was similar to what it was on-screen. Chanderi is a very quiet place. We used to play cricket at night. We used to live in a small guesthouse called Tana Bana. All of us used to sit together and feast on home-cooked food. We had a great bonding off-screen and that translated into something beautiful on screen.

On The Response

I did not expect such a good response. In fact, I am still shocked. I feel I have performed better in films that people have not watched. I have been getting so many messages on Twitter. Keh rahe hai ki kya kar diya tumne? Tum jab aate ho toh nazar nahi hatt ti hai. But I have not done anything as such. It feels like a miracle. Maybe, it comes naturally to me. In fact, my process of acting is very organic. I make an attempt to say my lines in a way so that it sounds conversational.

Future Projects

I am doing Luka Chuppi next. Dinesh (Vijan) is producing it. He was an important part of Stree. We love him a lot. He pampers his actors.

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