The 54th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) featured an enriching masterclass with celebrated actor Pankaj Tripathi, in collaboration with the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, Kolkata. The session was moderated by renowned film critic and journalist, Mayank Shekhar.
Reflecting on the art of acting, Tripathi said that the world is a theatre, and we play different roles in our lives. Acting is the recreation of real-life roles and emotions. One needs to be empathetic in becoming a proficient actor, Tripathi said. According to him, acting serves a broader purpose: to make individuals better human beings by understanding diverse perspectives. “When you put yourselves in someone’s shoes, and understand their thoughts, their emotions, and their perspectives, you also become a better human,” says Tripathi.
This happens when you analyze, observe and understand the good and bad of others’ lives and learn from them to make yourself better.
Tripathi highlighted the significance of aligning the body and mind for natural acting. “Flexibility and openness of mind and body are crucial to molding oneself according to the character,” he explained. The recreation of emotions on the screen can happen only when you force a hypothetical situation of the character in the brain and train yourself to do so.
Dwelling on the difference between a star and an actor, Tripathi said, “an actor can always take the opportunity for experimentation with their role.” The actor underscored the importance of experimentation, distinguishing between an actor’s freedom to explore roles and the constraints of stardom which create an expectation and a larger-than-life image in the minds of the audience. “Experimentation keeps acting alive,” he says.
Talking about his initial years as an actor, Tripathi acknowledged the struggles he had to overcome. When it was all about survival, acting becomes secondary. However, he stressed the importance of hope in moving forward with one’s passion, “But just hope is not sufficient, self-assessment is also necessary. Ask yourself why you want to do this,” he added. He also urged the aspiring actors and filmmakers in the audience to do research, observe and explore their surroundings along with themselves.