Ananya Panday: I’ve come out of 2021 much stronger & more mature – Times of India


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As someone who admittedly doesn’t take herself too seriously, Ananya Panday is gradually coming into her own. After debuting in a light campus romance, she has consciously chosen to feature in parts that don’t bear a resemblance with her previous work. “There have been a few challenges, but I definitely feel I’ve come out of 2021 much stronger,” she says as she looks forward to a busy 2022. In a chat with Bombay Times, she spoke about the lessons 2021 taught her and what’s in store for the next 12 months. Excerpts…

In a previous conversation with Bombay Times, you had mentioned how you really wished for 2022 to be a special year for you. How do you plan to make that happen?
2022 is already feeling special to me because of all the lessons and blessings I’m taking in from 2021. It has been a roller coaster year, but I’m feeling grateful and energised. There’s a lot of exciting stuff coming up on the work front with Gehraiyaan and Liger. Also, I’ll begin shooting for Kho Gaye Hum Kahan.

2021 was a tough year for the movie business where makers had to navigate through new territories. How would you say the year was for you at a personal and professional level?
On a personal level, in the last two years, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned patience, gratitude and the power of self-love and about spending time with myself. I think we all learned that we don’t need much to be happy and the importance of enjoying the smaller things in life. I won’t lie; there have been a few challenges, but I definitely feel I’ve come out of 2021 much stronger and more mature. I’m ready to go and shoot, and work. There’s also a larger sense of empathy I’ve

noticed not just in myself but in everyone around as well. Professionally, it has been a really different time for the industry as a whole. But I think we’ve gained a lot with the OTT boom. We have witnessed so many wonderful stories and performances and I think it adds a sense of courage in filmmakers and actors to go ahead and make the films and tell the stories that they’ve been afraid to do so far. I think it’s the best time to be an artiste right now.

You’ve got Gehraiyaan and Liger that marks your foray into multi-lingual cinema. What has been your experience of playing out your roles in these films, and also picking up a new language for Liger?
Both the films are so different which has probably been the most exciting part. Gehraiyaan is a complex relationship drama and playing my character in the film has almost been cathartic for me. The whole experience of that film has been magic, and I’ve met some of the best people on this film. It has been one of my favourite filming experiences. Liger is an out-and-out masala, action, comedy — basically like the kind of films that I’ve grown up watching, so it’s been a dream come true to be a part of it. I feel my character in Liger will be quite amusing and entertaining. Foraying into four new industries is scary, but also super exciting. I can’t wait to see how the audience reacts to both films and my characters in them. And language is such a small barrier and I think we’ve all seen that this year, after being exposed to so much regional and world cinema. So, it was actually something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time and I’m hoping it’s the beginning of a new journey. I think after you get over that initial feeling of being conscious when you’re doing over-the-top comedy, and just have fun instead of being scared of how it will end up looking, it all works out.

Siddhant Chaturvedi, Deepika Padukone, and Shakun Batra are people who had a strong repertoire of work. You were the fresh blood in the group when you stepped into Gehraiyaan. Did it take you a while to settle in?
If I’ve learned anything, it’s that acting is a lot of reacting. So, on the contrary, it’s always a blessing to have stronger performances opposite you to feed. The whole team was working in synergy, and we were like a family where no one made me feel like I was new in any way. The experience and all the people associated with the film have really helped me grow as a person and as an actor. There was a lot I had to borrow from myself for the part, it was extremely cathartic in that sense, but I think I had to get over that fear of letting go and just being and exposing a vulnerable side of myself. And Shakun is a dream director for me. I’m a huge fan of his previous work and I was hoping and praying for a chance to work with him. I was drawn to how real, grey and complex the characters were. It was all in the writing for me — everything felt so honest and natural. I felt there was a lot I could borrow of myself for the part.

You have this cool, fresh-off-the-block, bubbly kind of an appeal. Do you think that there is a whole aspect to your personality that is yet to be explored on screen?
I think it’s inherently my personality to be happy-go-lucky and goofy, but at the same time, I’m also growing up and coming into my own. I choose not to take myself too seriously and that kind of helps me stay balanced. In terms of choices of films and characters, I always lean towards doing something new and learning something with each experience. I want to always be a student and grow with each character and film. There’s lots of work to do, I’ve just begun and acting is something I imagine I will do for the rest of my life, so I’m hoping I continue to evolve.

Your father (Chunky Panday) is someone who has been often undervalued for what he brings to the table. Did the learnings from his journey in the business influence your career choices?
I’ve learned a lot from my father. He’s someone who takes everything in his stride — the good and the bad. He’s not too affected by anything — success or failure. It is something that I hope to imbibe too, and it definitely gives me a lot more courage to come out and make mistakes with a smile on my face.



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