This month, it will be a year since Ananya Panday’s debut with Karan Johar’s ‘Student of The Year 2’. “Surreal is the best way to describe it. I still find it unbelievable and, at the same time, exciting that I am an actress now,” she exults, admitting that the audience’s love gets her going. “The fact that young boys and girls are looking up to me is a real high; it’s more important than box office statistics.”
Ananya is a part of Shakun Batra’s next directorial, which also features Deepika Padukone and Siddhant Chaturvedi. Informing that she gave her nod to the film just after hearing Shakun’s name, she says, “I told him that I’d do anything he directs. I am just going to sit there like a student and try to absorb as much as I can.
Ananya raves about the humility of her co-star, Deepika, saying, “You don’t feel like she is a star overpowering you. It feels like being with a friend. Deepika is more beautiful on the inside than on the outside.”
And what about Siddhant? “We get along well; you’ll see a lot of our banter in the film,” she laughs. During an interview last year, where Siddhant was also present, Ananya had the trolls going after her for a statement on her struggles. She had said, “I’ve always wanted to be an actor. Just because my dad has been an actor, I will never say no to an opportunity to act. My dad has never been in a Dharma film, he never went on Koffee With Karan. So, it’s not as easy as people say. Everyone has their own journey and their own struggle.” Following this, Chunky had laughingly told her to stop taking his name. The daughter is nonchalant, “I have inherited thick skin from him. I won’t lie, it does hurt sometimes because I didn’t articulate what I wanted to say better. I try to be mindful when putting a point across now for people to understand.”
Mention her caption-writing skills on the ‘gram and she retorts, “I work hard on my captions. I write all of them without any help. People make fun of it, but I love doing it and that’s not going to change.” She says she got her wit from her mom Bhavana, and her silly side from dad Chunky. Buzz is, he is playing her dad in an upcoming film. Ananya denies it: “I think we will wait for the right script to come together on screen. It will be special and I don’t want to waste it.”
Meanwhile, Ali Abbas Zafar’s ‘Khaali Peeli’ is waiting for the lockdown to end before being unveiled. Ananya reveals it was the first film offered to her after ‘SOTY2’ and she fell in love with her character, Pooja. “Playing her has been liberating because I felt that I could get away with anything,” she avers, adding that co-actor Ishaan Khatter’s energy has been contagious. “He has so much positivity and passion for cinema. It’s rubbed off on me. The world is going to see a lot more of Ishaan,” she promises.
Ananya also features in Vijay Deverakonda’s Bollywood debut, ‘Fighter’, and a connection has been forged with the South superstar, too. “I loved Vijay in ‘Arjun Reddy’. With this film, he steps into Hindi cinema while I debut in South. We are both nervous, but it’s a fun film to be a part of,” she maintains, saying that while one will get to see her do a little bit of action in Khaali Peeli, it is Vijay’s domain in ‘Fighter’.
Now, she is eager to pair up with her favourite actor, Ranveer Singh. “I am also looking forward to doing something in the dark space. I’ve been watching a lot of horror films and want to explore the genre,” Ananya signs off.