Mumbai: If Pankaj Tripathi isn't scared of taking up a role, he can hear alarm bells ring: he is getting a bit too comfortable and needs a creative challenge to jolt him out.
Tripathi confesses, one often falls in the comfort zone fully aware but a slight discomfort creeps in when an actor stays there for long.
His role as the mysterious Guruji in the second season of "Sacred Games", was the one which stirred him up.
"If an actor has to be alive, then you need a creative challenge. This role was out of my comfort zone, which was necessary for my creative process. It's fun when you take risks.
"If you're not scared for the day or how you'll perform, then what's the point. This nervous energy, fear, is necessary for an actor. Often, when you're not scared then you get scared. That this is risky, I'm going in a safe zone," Pankaj told PTI.
The first season of Netflix's first India original was directed by Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane. It featured Saif Ali Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the lead.
The sophomore season of the series, based on author Vikram Chandra's novel of the same name, will pick up from Sartaj Singh (Khan) pursuing his relentless battle of saving Mumbai and Ganesh Gaitonde (Siddiqui) facing bigger challenges to retain his position as the legendary kingpin of the city.
For the actor, understanding the psyche of Guruji was extremely important and hence he was unnerved to take up the role.
"There are some roles which scare you, where chances of slipping are more. We have seen many caricatures of spiritual gurus on screen, sometimes there are real babas who do caricature. So what type would be mine?
"The expectation had increased tremendously after season one. I don't have that experience to play someone who, when he says something, one lakh people believe. This world was new for me."
To prepare for the role, Tripathi had isolated himself for a week, to not only find his character but also, memories the lines.
"In that isolation, I was mugging up my lines. You can't improvise these lines, this is not a routine conversation. My process is, when you're scared, mug up the lines so strongly that the fear of lines go away.
"Then you just have to perform, otherwise, when you're entangled in dialogues, your performance is affected. This content had a lot of philosophy so I knew I can't improvise. I wanted to experience this world also, hence the isolation," he added.
The show is written by Varun Grover, Dhruv Narang, Pooja Varma and Nihit Bhave. Like season one, Kashyap is at the helm of the portions featuring Siddiqui, while Neeraj Ghaywan of "Masaan" fame will direct the scenes with Khan.
Motwane returns as the showrunner for the show which starts steaming from August 15.