Actor Pankaj Tripathi, a scene stealer in any film or series he does, says he often aims to keep the innocence of his characters alive. In Mimi, the story of the titular surrogate mother played by Kriti Sanon, sees Tripathi essay the character of Bhanu, whose funny one-liners in the film's trailer had garnered much praise. Directed by Laxman Utekar, the film, originally slated to release on July 30, arrived on Netflix and Jio Cinema on Monday night.
While filmmaking is a "team sport", the National School of Drama graduate said as the face of the actor is visible, they end up getting the most credit for the film.
"But yes, I tend to do some improvisations or a few additions here and there that sometimes comes out nicely. We get a lot of freedom to add our own flavour, which is something I do with sincerity. It feels good when your instincts are trusted as an artiste," Tripathi told PTI in an interview.
His character of Bhanu, the 44-year-old said, is primarily a driver but is a multi-tasker. "He is the jack of all trades, jugaadu aadmi hai (he is a makeshifter)," he added.
His character is the catalyst which connects Mimi, an aspiring actor from a Rajasthan small town, with a foreigner couple who want her to bear their child. Citing the example of a scene from the film's trailer where a sceptical Mimi asks the doctor (Jaya Bhattacharya) if the surrogacy will spoil her figure, Bhanu chirpily says, "No!", eliciting a question from the protagonist. "Have you done it before?" Mimi asks Bhanu, to which he sheepishly says another "No". Tripathi said the scene turned out to be funnier as Sanon also took part in the improv process. "There are two no's but both have different meanings," he added.
The actor, who hails from Bihar, said such tweaks here and there keep things interesting. "That's how children are. Children often do things like this to try to get out of a sticky situation when they are caught. I try to protect the childlike innocence of my characters. It doesn't let things become dry (neeras)."
A fan of satire, Tripathi said Mimi is a situational comedy which somewhere also makes use of sarcasm to drive home the larger message. "There is no intention to hurt anyone. The audience is in on the joke that they know the character in the scene is under guise and doing drama. There are certain loopholes that we leave to create the laughs in that drama.
"The aim of cinema is to while laughing and tickling your funny bone, it does a bit of a satire too. If you criticise someone deeply, they can feel hurt. But if you use sarcasm, they will smile and they will get the point too," he added.
"Utekar, who has adapted the film from Samruoddhi Porey's 2011 Marathi feature Mala Aai Vhhaychy! with writer Rohan Shankar, has sensitively handled the film's subject," Tripathi said, adding, "They have created a beautiful world in Mimi which will make you laugh, cry and will quietly whisper the message of the film in your ears in the end. It is a family film which will appeal to people of all ages. You will laugh and cry together. Mimi' will stay with you for a while."
In 2020, Tripathi had five film releases including Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl and Ludo, and two web series Mirzapur (second season) and Criminal Justice: Behind Closed Doors.
Asked if there was a concern of overexposure, the actor said that ship has sailed. "I have done and still do films for friendship and favours. I am an emotional man. The people who have helped me in my struggling days, I say ok to them. If it's a cameo, I go and finish my part in those five days. My overexposure has already happened. "I was doing so much work that if you searched any OTT platform last year, I was there. There is overexposure but people still consider me underrated. Overexposure is ok, one should not be overrated," he noted.
Tripathi will next be seen in Kabir Khan's highly anticipated sports drama 83 and a Yash Raj Films project.