In this day and age of multifaceted, fast love and romance, Mridula & Pankaj Tripathi’s love story is nothing short of a tragedy-less Shakespearean sonnet— filled with drama, emotions, comic incidences, and above all, abundant love. To use a metaphor from Pankaj Tripathi, the love story has been like playing badminton, where both players have to contribute one on one to keep the match going.
Tripathis’ story began with the necessity of building a toilet, which to many people might not sound incredibly romantic, but as we all know, it turned into something beautiful and heart-warming. A carpenter from Pankaj’s village was in charge of building the toilet in Mridula’s hometown. It was nothing less than a historical period drama script when the carpenter went gaga to Pankaj back home, spellbound by Mridula’s beauty. As a high-schooler in grade eleven, Pankaj was a little too exhilarated to hear about this mystery woman who — as the carpenter Mukhtar mistri delicately pronounced a perfect match. After that, as fate would have it, on his sister’s tilak ceremony, while he was sitting with a coconut in his hands, desperately looking for that mystery woman amidst the myriad of people, Mridula coincidentally walked by Pankaj, leaving him awestruck. He still describes that event with the intensity of a love-struck teenager who saw the love of his life for the first time, and everyone in the backdrop just disappeared.
The First Memory
Following that, a series of shy greetings and modest smiles led them to be on a train, where they had their first genuine conversation. P still believes that they were poles apart right from the beginning — a possible fate attractor. Mridula was a convent student, whereas the “Gangs of Wasseypur” actor spent his entire student life in a village school. Their diverse ideologies and experiences found solace in literature, connecting their mind and soul. On that train, he told Mridula the story of the famous author Renu, and she couldn’t help but fall in love with him.
Struggle To Find ‘The One’
Their relationship has matured like a fine wine with time and patience, undergoing tremendous environmental pressure and emerging better than before. As Mridula recalls it, even when they were in love, Pankaj accompanied her family when they went to see a suitable boy for her. He carefully examined everything and, keeping his own interests aside, made sure to be part of the process for her ultimate happiness. In the midst of maddening romance and passion, he boldly prioritised Mridula’s comfort and prosperity. He came back and honestly put forth his view that she’d live a comfortable life with the match in question, as he’s well-to-do and can keep her happy. Mridula was stunned by his selfless nature and refused the marriage proposal. She fondly remembers this incident to date and laughs about the fact that she anticipated Pankaj to come home furious and convince her to not marry anyone but him.
The Long Distance Saga
After a few months of the declined proposal, Pankaj called Mridula in one late December to wish on her birthday, when he was politely reminded by the latter that it was the next day. A long minute of awkward silence was followed by the ultimate confession of her feelings for Pankaj, who was staying far away in Delhi. At the time, long-distance relationships were a foreign concept, but they were headstrong in making this relationship work. So, they’d write to each other once every ten days and wait all day to talk at prime time sharp.
A few years later, he sent her a train ticket for Delhi when Mridula packed her bags to be there for him. The momentous meet-up was caught by her anger when the man of her life had not only reached late but commented on the large baggage. While she glared at him, he put forth his hand with a bunch of roses, leaving the young Mridula confused and ecstatic.
Tying The Knot
January 16th 2004, saw the union of the two after overcoming geographical barriers. Pankaj remembers their first train ride as a married couple, where randomly, he told an absolute stranger that he wanted to marry Mridula. The fellow stranger responded in affirmation, saying they should elope by getting off at the next station, to which Pankaj laughed and nodded his head.
The couple lived a mediocre life in their initial years in Mumbai — in a 280-square-foot flat, to be precise.
Whenever Pankaj is asked about their struggle to make ends meet, the actor always questions, “What sort of struggle?” His description only had the happy times enjoyed in that intimate place, where they’d go out for long drives every evening, as some of the best days of his life.
A Perfect Balance
While chasing his dream to become an actor, Pankaj proudly acknowledges Mridula supported the financials by working as a teacher. In multiple interviews, he often mentions how sidewalk sleeping or starving was never a part of his struggles, only possible because of his wife’s hard work and support. He went on to say that, in a way, she is and has always been the man of the house. While he is deeply grateful for his wife Mridula’s love, she is frequently seen praising him for her ability to go out and work. In an interview, she admitted that even though she was the one earning money, they couldn’t have survived on that alone. Pankaj was solely responsible for the household chores and used to cook for the two of them. The basics of culinary art came from Pankaj to Mridula, who knew nothing about boiling pans as a girl.
The couple is still seen talking admiringly about each other in interviews. When talking about Mridula’s recent performance in ‘Sherdil’, a 2022 drama film, Pankaj lovingly remarked on the fact that his wife didn’t even ask to get paid. As soon as she heard the role involved wearing a beautiful Bengali saree, the humble woman was on board.
Mridula gave birth to their daughter Aashi in 2006 when Pankaj filled in the shoes of the most loving and caring father. Despite coming from an orthodox background, he evolved into a broad-minded individual who is as great a father in real life as he is on the big screen.
The Tripathi love story is an inspiration to millions, a living proof of the quote that “love can conquer anything.” They’ve broken numerous societal barriers, undergone difficult times, and emerged as an example of what it means to be in love in real life.