Born in Pune on 24 July 1985, Pankaj spent the first five years of his life in Kuwait with his parents - Arjan and Kajal and elder brother Shree. The family migrated to Bangalore after the Iraqi invasion and has been there ever since, except for his father who passed away when Pankaj was only six years old.
Pankaj and Shree studied at the Frank Anthony Public School, Bangalore and both went on to become Head Boys of the school. Pankaj was too soft-hearted to report students to the principal when they, for instance, forgot to wear their house-badges. Instead, he would give them money to quickly buy the badges from the school shop. He was not around during the Annual Day or Sports Day as he was busy competing at the 2002 Asian Games in Korea. However, he scored a cool distinction in both ICSE and ISC board exams.
But how did Pankaj begin his foray into the world of cue sport? He did it at the age of ten, courtesy his brother Shree. He would accompany Shree to the snooker parlour close to their house every day after school. For a few weeks, he just watched Shree play with his friends. Then one day he begged to be allowed to play. On his very first attempt, he pocketed the red ball and then on, he was hooked to the game. The following year, he won his first State title by beating his brother-cum-mentor in the finals.
During his first media interaction ever, Pankaj, on being asked what he wanted to become when he grew up, replied, "A businessman." Then, as an afterthought, added, "I would also like to be a world champion." Innocent words that became reality in less than 8 years!
Such are the ways of the Power of Attraction that world-renowned Snooker wizard Arvind Savur spotted this talent at a young age and took him under his wing. Blessed with passion, natural ability and dedication for the sport, Pankaj sent out a warning signal to all Indian and International players of his arrival on the scene. Mr. Savur, the father of modern snooker, promised the family that he would make Pankaj a world champion, but he too was pleasantly surprised by what was to come. Pankaj went on to complete his Bachelor Degree in Commerce with a 1st Class at SBM Jain College, Bangalore. He was only 6 months into college when he won the Men's World Snooker Championship in China at the age of 18. This was the first of his 16 World Titles.