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Pankaj Tripathi on his role in Main Atal Hoon: 'No pressure but it was difficult to decide on approach for playing Atalji'

The upcoming biopic is scheduled to release in theatres on January 19

PTI Mumbai Published 21.12.23, 11:37 AM
A poster of Main Atal Hoon

A poster of Main Atal Hoon

Actor Pankaj Tripathi, who essays the role of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the upcoming film, "Main Atal Hoon", said it was difficult for him to get into the skin of the character.

The biopic is based on the life and times of Vajpayee, the first prime minister from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). It is directed by filmmaker Ravi Jadhav of "Natarang" and "Balgandharva" fame.

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At the trailer launch event of the film on Wednesday, the 47-year-old actor said the challenge was to decide on the approach for playing the part as authentically as possible.

"There is no extra pressure. But it was difficult to decide how much we should imitate or do mimicry or to not have that (approach) and just present his ideas and opinions out there. There's so much material about him already out there, so what else should you do? "If people want to see him then they can see his speeches on YouTube. So, this was a difficult task for me and you will see what we have attempted when you see the film, and how much we have succeeded in that experiment," the National Award-winning actor told reporters.

Tripathi, known for films “Gangs of Wasseypur”, “Masaan”, “Stree” and web series “Mirzapur” and “Criminal Justice”, said the intention to make the biopic is to inspire the younger generation.

"A biopic is made so that we can inform and inspire the younger generation about the person and their extraordinary life. The purpose of the biopic is to provide entertainment and at the same time, it serves as an inspiration about the person, the challenges that they faced, and their journey forward," he added.

Vajpayee is credited with popularising the party beyond its base and running a coalition government successfully for six years (1998 to 2004), during which he pushed reforms and boosted infrastructure. He died in 2018 at the age of 93.

The actor recalled attending political rallies of Vajpayee as an admirer.

"I've been to two political rallies in Patna's Gandhi Maidan to listen to him. In that crowd of lakhs of people, I was a 20-year-old listening to Atal ji. I had no clue that I'll become an actor and get the opportunity to play his role. I liked him a lot, I would go to listen to his speeches," he said.

Jadhav said the film will not only focus on Atal Bihari Vajpayee's life journey but also shed light on the changes that happened in Indian politics over the years.

"Our idea was to show what all have happened from the year 1940 to 2000, what all changes have happened in politics, the changes in political campaigns, and how people have changed...along with the story of Atal ji.

"So, you will get to see all of these things. We are making a 60-year reel in two hours, in which you will see how India has changed with Atal ji," he added.

Since the story spans six decades, Tripathi said he also had to work on the physical aspects of the character.

"I've done theatre and training at National School of Drama, so I've learnt a few things like body language on my own. In this film, my character goes from the age of 25 to 85, so I had to keep in mind what body language I should have as per the year.

"But we want the audience to understand Atal ji from his thought process and not just from his body language," he added.

On a query about the film being an advertising campaign for the upcoming elections, producer Vinod Bhanushali said it was an incorrect assumption.

"If you make a film on Atal ji then you will talk about the things he did, like formation of the BJP, how his life started with the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), his childhood days to being a three-time prime minister," he said.

Tripathi added, "It is cinema and if you think that with any cinema, Indian voters will be influenced, then you are underestimating them." The actor was also asked if he plans to join politics in future.

"No, yeh dukan achi chal rahi hai (I'm happy with acting). However, if you want changes in policies, then you have to join politics. You can do that with social work but in order to make bigger changes in terms of policies, then you have to join politics," he said.

"I've been part of protests and I've been in jail as well. I have been on that journey but then I realised it is a difficult journey. So I made a U-turn and started looking at street theatre. Then I went to a theatre group in Patna," he added.

Produced by Vinod Bhanushali, Sandeep Singh, and Kamlesh Bhanushali, “Main Atal Hoon” will hit theatres on January 19. Bhavesh Bhanushali and Sam Khan serve as co-producers on the movie.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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