“I am kind of jealous of Bhumi Pednekar”, says Ananya Panday

The young actress heaps praise on her Pati Patni Aur Woh [2019] co-star and hopes that like Pednekar, she too gets to play inspiring characters

ananya panday

    Source: Ananya Panday facebook

By Mayur Lookhar

Ah, the youth. Knowledge will come through experience, but it’s the fearless attitude that makes the youth so fascinating. There would always be seasoned egoistic voices trying to weigh them down for their lack of know how, but the youth is not afraid to make a mistake.   They are happy to fall, learn from their mistakes.  Young Ananya Panday reflects one such youth.

All of 21, Chunky Pandey’s daughter arrived in the film industry with the dud Student of the Year 2 [2019]. She is not one to sulk over the failure, but is hugely excited for her next Pati Patni Aur Woh [2019] that is set to be released on 6 December. Truth be told, Panday was the lone bright spot in Student of the Year 2.   She doesn’t dwell into its failure, but humbly takes the positives from it.

This writer met her for the first time.  Though 21, she actually looks more like 15-16. Geez  she looks like a girl straight out of school and being thrown into this ocean called Bollywood.  Panday’s though not afraid, in fact, she’s ready to swim with the tide.

As the bevy of journalists walked into the room, Panday sat comfortably on her chair, unflinching like a boxer with the ‘just bring it on’ attitude on her face.  She is loquacious but very affable.  Often her sentences begin with a ‘I feel’ or ‘ I think’. She’s confident but not assertive. Some 17 odd minutes later, there is silence in the room. “Oh, that’s it! You’ll have no more questions,” said Panday.    If this interaction is akin to a bout, there was only person standing tall in the end.

Ananya’s exuberance is her great strength. She enjoys being in the limelight, but is also comfortable with the thorns that come with it.  That was the big takeaway from this group interaction.

Excerpts.

So after graduating from a prestigious institute in Student of the Year 2 [2019], it is wonderful to see that you perhaps have chosen a government sector job in your second film.

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[laughs]. Actually, I am not working in the Public Works Department.  My character come from Delhi, and she meets Chintu Tyagi [Kartik Aaryan], who works there.  Yes, it is not exactly in the Student of the Year 2 [2019] zone. I feel the [two] worlds are very different. With Student of the Year 2, we never claimed to be a realistic film in any way.  That was an entertaining, larger-than-life film. Pati Patni Aur Woh is very realistic. The texture of the film is very believable, relatable.

Did you watch the original Pati Patni Aur Woh [1978]?

Yes, I have. In fact, I have watched it twice. Once long back with my mother [Bhavana Pandey]. My nanny loves Sanjeev Kumar.  I found it really funny.  I thought if they do make it this time, it will be interesting to make a film like that.  Love triangles never go out of fashion.  I watched the original again after reading the [remake] script because I wanted to see how different it is from the original.

It’s never ideal to have a ‘woh’ in one’s life but what is your definition of woh?

I think a ‘woh’ can be anything. It can be your phone, your work, a friend. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a home breaker, that vampish thing. I think my character isn’t your typical ‘woh’. She is a normal girl. She is confident. I just think all three characters in the film are people in a situation. You have to watch that film to understand what that situation is.

As for my character, well, I’m not endorsing extra-martial affairs. As a person, I don’t believe in cheating. I don’t want to be the other woman. But this is just a character, a situation.

You were offered this film when Student of the Year 2 [2019] had not even come out. What was your reaction to being offered such a script?

I was excited, and yet shocked that they [director, producer] thought of me as the ‘woh’ from the onset. I feel I don’t give those ‘patni’ [wife] vibes. I feel I’m innocent, sweet. But when I read the script, I was so drawn to my character. She has a lot of self-respect, she is confident. I was happy that the makers thought of me for this role.  Pati Patni Aur Woh [1978] is an iconic film. We have a modern version.

Your director Mudassar Aziz told us that you came across as this very ambitious girl who wants to make it big in mainstream space. Can we categorise this film as mainstream?

I hope so because in this film we did [song remake] Ankhiyon Se Goli Maare. That was such a filmi song where I got to use all my expressions. I don’t really categorise as  mainstream film or parallel cinema.  I feel now everything is working. The audience is big on content. Even though our film is entertaining, it is high on content. I feel, people will get to see something different.

Student of the Year 2 met with lot of criticism. How did you deal with it?

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I wouldn’t want to toot my own horn in any way, but I think I have learnt from my father, the value of having a thick skin. Not a value, but I have a thick skin. I have seen my father take so many jokes on himself. What upsets me is when my mother gets offended by something. I feel like when people are putting stuff on social media, it is not between you and me. You can come and tell me something, which they wouldn’t know. But if you are writing, everyone is going to see it. When my mom sees it, she wants to defend me. I am all for constructive criticism, for example, if someone tells me that I am not a good dancer, I didn’t do a step right, I can work on that. But now if someone says I am ugly or too thin, those are things that I can’t change. I think people have a lot of issues in their own life. So, I think you should give them kindness back.

Forget the social media, but purely in terms of the film reviews, do you think most of them were fairly accurate and constructive?

When it comes to me, I feel I am blessed because I did get a lot of love.  Look, what Student of the Year 2 [2019] had to do for me, it did that. It got me lot of love, It got me into that mainstream world. I have lot of fans, who are kids. When I watched Student of the Year [2012], I was a kid and I became a loyal fan of Alia Bhatt.  I am happy with the way Student of the Year 2 panned out. It was made for kids, it was light hearted and I think it did its job.

Pati Patni Aur Woh has seen a backlash before it release. Do you worry about it?

No, because I as a person would not be drawn to a film which is misogynistic, sexist.  I don’t feel the pressure, because I know myself that as an audience, I would never choose that script.

Your first film had two heroines and it is the same with your second film. Was there every any insecurity?

No, I never had that fear. I feel like even if I am in a film for five minutes, I’ll do once scene, and if I am that good, then people will like my work. I could be in a full film, and people may not like my work.  So, I shouldn’t base my decision around that because I will then lose out on a lot of good work.   After Student of the Year 2, had I sat down and said I will not do a two-heroine film then I wouldn’t get to be a part of Pati Patni Aur Woh. I don’t like that and I hope I never have to.

What was it like working with an acclaimed actress like Bhumi Pednekar?

I was happy that Bhumi is part of the film. Just being in the frame with her, I got to learn so much. She is so experimental, risk taker. That inspires young actors like me. When I watched Dum Laga Ke Haisha [2015] , I found it so cool. I am inspired by Bhumi.  I am also kind of jealous of her because she gets offered such amazing films. I hope I get offered such films in future.

As a new comer, do you really get too many choices, or whatever comes your way you would take up?

No, the choice is there. I would rather sit at home for a year than do something that I don’t believe in completely. I have the blessing of starting out early. I don’t need to rush and finish things. I would never do something half heartedly.

Do you discuss your scripts with your father?

Yes. Actually, I discuss more with my mother. They both read my scripts.  But they don’t tell me what they feel about the script. They tell me after I have made my decision.  My father read Khaali Peeli, but he didn’t say anything but asked me to decide first. Once I decided, he said he loved the script. That’s because they don’t want my decision to get swayed.  My father would tell me, make a mistake if you want but it should be your mistake.

Varun Dhawan has spoken  in the past that how his father David didn’t approve some of the films he did. Even David Dhawan has spoken about it. That’s perhaps because David comes from a different school of cinema. You father comes from that time too. While reading your scripts, does your father compare it with those sensibilities?

No he never does that.  I think he is more ‘today’ than I am. He’s entered the digital world. He has done a short film. He is very open to different things. I’ve only done two films. He didn’t disapprove of any of my decisions. And I don’t think he ever will.  He is a knowledgeable, good person to bounce off my ideas from.

You’ve been into the spotlight even before you got into films, courtesy social media. Has that perhaps also made you a target?

Yes, it does make me an easier target but I don’t want to complain about it because it has also got me other [positive] stuff as well. I don’t want to sit and say, “Oh, I am being trolled”.  I have got so much exposure, so many people have seen me even before my film had come out. I’ll always be grateful for that.

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