By Monisha G Kumar Last Updated:
There are certain couples in the entertainment world, who might not flash their personal life to the public but have always reinstated our faith in love and marriage. One such couple is Pankaj Tripathi and his beautiful wife, Mridula. Pankaj, who rose to fame as the antagonist, 'Sultan Qureshi' in Gangs of Wasseypur, is one of the finest actors of Indian cinema.
An NSD graduate, Pankaj Tripathi had made his Bollywood debut in 2004 with minor roles in the films, Run and Omkara. And now with a career of close to two decades, Pankaj had won our hearts with his mind-blowing performances. Be it 'Kaleen Bhaiya' in Mirzapur or 'Rudra' in Stree, Pankaj has aced all his roles with a lot of finesse. However, through all the struggles and ups and downs of his career, the only constant thing in Pankaj's life is his wife, Mridula. Their love story is no less than a Bollywood film and would make you fall in love with them.
Pankaj had met Mridula when she was studying in class ninth and he was in class eleventh. It was 'pehli nazar ka pyaar' and Pankaj clearly remembers the exact moment when he fell head-over-heels in love with Mridula. In an interview with ScoopWhoop, Pankaj had revealed that he fell in love with Mridula in 1993 at his sister's wedding. Elaborating the details of the same, Pankaj had said:
"It was my sister’s wedding and I saw her on the balcony of the terrace and thought to myself, ‘This is the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with’. And I did not even know who she was, or what her name was, at the time.”
During an interaction with The Better India, Mridula had talked about her first meeting with Pankaj and had said:
"It was my elder brother’s Tilak (engagement ceremony). I was on my way to a tiny room on the terrace to get dressed when this boy with hazel eyes, brown hair, and a beard crossed me. Those eyes would go on to follow me during the entire function.”
During that time, couples did not have access to communicate with each other. However, Pankaj used to visit his sister once in every five months and would get a chance to speak to Mridula. They would talk for hours and would spend quality time with one another. In Mridula's words:
“I would leave for school in the morning and could meet him only after dinner. That was our time. We would sit and talk, sometimes till early morning. We both loved reading and had so much to talk about the books, novels, characters, stories, and the writers.”
Eight years had passed after Pankaj and Mridula's first meeting and her father had started searching for a perfect groom for her. And, it was Pankaj, who had accompanied Mridula's brother to meet the groom. When Pankaj came back, he told Mridula that it was a perfect match for her as she will lead a happy and content life. That was the moment when Mridula realised something precious was missing from her life. Recalling the same, Mridula had said:
“Pankaj accompanied my brother and sister-in-law to the prospective groom’s place. He came and told me that it was a good match for me and I would surely get much of ‘Bhautik Sukh.’ I did not know so much Hindi back then and asked what that meant, and he said ‘material happiness.’ That’s when I felt that I was losing something very precious.”
During that time, Pankaj had enrolled himself in the National School of Drama (NSD) and Mridula had made a plan to break the marriage proposal. After breaking the marriage proposal, Mridula wanted to communicate the same to Pankaj but it was quite difficult at that time as he was in Delhi and she was in Kolkata.
And then, after months of waiting, Pankaj had called Mridula's family, a day before her birthday, on December 24. He spoke to every member of the family and also wished Mridula. In Mridula's words:
"He wished me, and I reminded him that it was the next day. I tried really hard to convey my feelings to him, but he didn’t understand. It took a long explanation for him to finally get the drift.”
When Pankaj Tripathi and Mridula were in love, dating and long-distance relationship were unheard concepts. Even after staying miles apart, the duo had managed to keep their love alive through love letters once in 10 days and phone calls fixed at 8 p.m. Overcoming all the geographical barriers, Pankaj and Mridula dated for 12 years and their love only grew stronger with time.
Even after being madly-in love with one another, Pankaj and Mridula had to convince their parents for their marriage. Since they were related to each other as Pankaj's sister was married to Mridula's brother, it was against their caste to marry in the same family. After a lot of cajoling, the couple got married on January 15, 2004. They moved to Mumbai after their marriage and in 2006, they were blessed with a baby girl, whom they have named Aashi Tripathi.
During the time of their marriage, Pankaj had refused to take dowry from his father-in-law, which was something unheard in their village. Speaking about the same in an interview with She The People, Pankaj said:
"When discussions of our marriage started happening, I told my father-in-law outright that I will not take a single penny from him. In my village, I’d never seen people getting married without dowry but for some reason, it just didn’t feel right. He still got a three-piece suit stitched for me but I didn’t wear it. On my wedding day, I was dressed up in a simple Dhoti Kurta."
When Pankaj was chasing his dream to become an actor, it was Mridula, who had happily become 'the man of the house' and had worked as a school teacher to support their family. Pankaj has often credited his wife for his success today. In a conversation with The Better India, Pankaj Tripathi had said:
“If you ask me about my struggle, I don’t have any sad details like sleeping on a footpath or starving for days. That’s because my wife, Mridula, had taken over the entire responsibility of the house. In fact, I tell everyone that she is the man of the house.”
In an interview with author-journalist, Anupama Chopra, Pankaj Tripathi was asked about his wife, Mridula Tripathi, who had financially supported him and his dreams of becoming an actor for 10 years and had never once asked him to change his field. Answering Anupama’s question, Pankaj had gotten emotional. He had said,
"Main is sawal ka jawab dete dete ro bhi sakta hoon. Aamtaur par ek ghar mein ek husband aur ek wife rehte hai. Mere ghar mein 2 wife rehti hai. Ek meri wife aur main unki wife. Pata nahi shayad meri imaandari dekh ke unko bharosa hoga. Main bohot sincere actor hoon maltab mere liye, cooking bhi acting hai. Mere liye duniya ka har kaam acting hai. Vo sabse kareeb thi, vo dekhti thi toh usko is baat ka ehsaas hoga ki agar itna imaandaar hai yeh banda aur apne craft pe itna laga hua hai toh kabhi na kabhi achhe din aayenge. Waqt badlega. Shayad yehi raha hoga. Baaki unse poochna hoga."
Pankaj Tripathi and Mridula's love story is one of a kind and has made us believe that love can surpass anything. From Mridula becoming the breadwinner of the family to Pankaj looking after the household work, they are surely an inspiration to the millennials.