IMAGE: Pankaj Tripathi introduces his new film to the media. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/

Not many know that Pankaj Tripathi’s first chosen vocation was politics.

Mein chatra sangathan mein tha, andolan bhi kiya hoon aur ek hafte jail bhi raha hoon (),” he says.

Mein us raaste par nikal chuka tha par thodi der baad pata chala ki bahut mushkil bhari, kaate-bhari maarg hai raajneeti ki, aur meine U-turn liya and street theatre dekhne laga. Mujhe laga yeh zyara behtar hai. Yahan bolke acting hoti hai (I was already on that road but after some time, I realised that politics is very tough, so I took a U-turn and went into street theatre. There, at least, one informs everyone that I’m acting),” he says drawing laughs from the audience.

Tripathi plays Atal Bihari Vajpayee, three time prime minister of India in the biopic, Main Atal Hoon, releasing January 19.

The actor is as entertaining at press conferences as he is in the movies, and he keeps the proceedings light — and fun — and Hitesh Harisinghani/ and Afsar Dayatar/ capture them here.



The only leader whose political rally Pankaj Tripathi attended in his life was one addressed by Vajpayee. Tripathi was 20 years old then, and the rally was held in Patna. Even as he listened enthralled, he never expected to play him one day, in a biopic on his spectacular life.

Just what aspects of Vajpayee’s life are included in the film?

Tripathi and Director Ravi Jadhav give us a sneak peek.


IMAGE: Pankaj Tripathi with Director Ravi Jadhav. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/

It would take Pankaj Tripathi two hours every day of the shooting to become Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he says, referring to the prosthetic he had to wear.

Main itna paseena kisi bhi film ki liye nahin baha hai, literally!” he says, and describes just how he did it.


IMAGE: Pankaj Tripathi with Producer Vinod Bhanushali and Director Ravi Jadhav. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/

With the film releasing before the general elections, is there a political agenda behind it?

Here’s an honest answer.

But the video is really a must watch for Tripathi’s reason why he took up the role: “When he pitched the film, I said mujhe sochna padega kyunki bahut zamidaari ki kaam hai. Jaisi hi inhone cheque faika mere taraf, usi din meine kahaan ki aajse preparation chalu (I said I had to think about taking up the role because there was a lot of responsibility. But as soon as he threw the cheque at me, I said the preparation will start from today)!”


IMAGE: Pankaj Tripathi with wife MridulaPhotograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/

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