Buoyed by her confident debut in Student Of The Year 2 and the success of her second film Pati Patni Aur Woh, Ananya Panday is in a happy space. In an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times, she got candid about the mixed response to her latest release, her link-up with Kartik Aaryan and her next film, Khaali Peeli.
Q. Pati Patni Aur Woh is currently inching towards the Rs 75-crore mark. How does it feel?
A. I’m really excited and overwhelmed. The response has been great and it’s so well-rounded. A lot of critics have loved us, the industry and the audiences have loved us. It’s a great feeling.
Q. The response from critics has been somewhat mixed…
A. There has been a mixed response, yeah. The dialogue that was in the trailer was changed. It was never our intention to hurt anyone’s sentiments. Once we realised that it did hurt people’s sentiments, we decided to change it immediately because that is not the premise of our film. Our film isn’t misogynist or sexist.
I think when people did go and watch the film, they did not find it misogynistic or sexist in any way. Bhumi and I, as women, and even Kartik and Aparshakti…none of us, as actors, would take up a film that is misogynistic or hurting anyone’s sentiments.
Also see: Ananya Panday parties all night with Kartik Aaryan, says ‘good morning’ to paparazzi while leaving. Watch video
Q. Your father Chunky Panday said in an interview earlier that you would come home depressed and anxious from the Student Of The Year 2 shoot, because you did not know if you would make it. Has that changed with the success of Pati Patni Aur Woh?
A. I won’t say I am relaxed, but I am definitely more confident because I know what I look like on screen and what people like about me and what they don’t. I don’t think that feeling of stress will ever go away. I started out at such a young age and everything that happens with me feels extra. Everything is very exaggerated with me; I am dealing with very extreme emotions and situations. It has gotten better in the sense that I am more confident and I have dealt with certain situations earlier, so now when they come, I am more at peace. But I don’t think the stress or the feeling of needing to please people will ever go away. With every film, it increases. The pressure will keep increasing because you must outdo yourself in every film.
Q. Apart from creating awareness, what steps is your initiative ‘So Positive’ taking to combat cyber-bullying?
The main aim was to create awareness. What really benefitted me was actually going out and meeting people and having face-to-face interactions. When I was shooting in Lucknow, I went to a college there and spoke about my experiences. They asked me questions. I think in situations like this, face-to-face interactions are the most important. Even the fact that Instagram has changed so many of its policies to combat bullying has reinforced what ‘So Positive’ stands for.
Q. Has the trolling reduced?
I cannot quantitatively say that it has reduced, but people have gotten a lot more conscious. If ‘So Positive’ stops even one person from bullying, it will be huge for me. I am seeing a lot more positive responses. Now, when I see a negative comment on my page, I always see a positive response to that negativity. That’s the whole point of ‘So Positive’; it’s not to fight negativity with negativity but to give love back to haters.
Q. You have been constantly pitted against fellow star kids, particularly Sara Ali Khan and Janhvi Kapoor. What is your equation with them?
A. I wouldn’t say there is a rivalry, but it’s always good to have that competitive spirit. Whenever Sara, Janhvi and I meet each other, it’s extremely normal. Sara was in school with me and I have known Janhvi my entire life. We all are friends and working in the industry together. Everyone is doing so well in their respective spaces and there is work for everyone. I think it’s good to have that competitive spirit in general.
Q. You are a self-confessed fan of Bigg Boss. Have you been following the developments of this season?
I did catch up on the first month of Bigg Boss 13 when I was relatively free. Now that I have been promoting and so busy shooting that I have not been able to watch it as much as I would like. I went on the show and I met everyone and Salman sir. This season is the only season I have not watched properly so I am really sad about that.
Q. How do you react to the paparazzi frenzy around you?
A. They are such lovely people and they are doing their work at the end of the day. They are so respectful, kind and loving. Now they have started calling me Tapasya, which is my character in Pati Patni Aur Woh. It’s really sweet and it’s such a warm feeling when you are known by your character’s name. Some of them are my friends and I have fun chatting with them.
Q. What can you tell me about your next film, Khaali Peeli?
A. I resumed shoot last week and I am really excited. It’s very different from how I am as a person. My character, Pooja, is nothing like what I am and how my life has been. It’s really exciting as an actor to play someone who is not like you. That’s the most challenging part.
Q. You have earlier said that your character is similar to Alia Bhatt’s in Gully Boy…
A. The way that I speak is that Mumbaiyya lingo which Alia did in Gully Boy. She played it so well; that’s one of the best characters that I have ever seen and her performance was my favourite performance by far. I am definitely inspired by the way she speaks.
Q. There has been constant speculation about your relationship with Kartik Aaryan. Has it affected your equation?
A. It doesn’t bother me, we actually laugh it off together. My dad is an actor so I know that all these things come with the industry. For Kartik and I, what matters the most right now is our work and the fact that people are loving Pati Patni Aur Woh. I don’t think these rumours or anything for that matter changes the equation between us. Just because people are talking about certain things, doesn’t mean I am going to stop spending time with him, you know. We work together and enjoy spending time together.
Q. What advice did you give your best friend Shanaya Kapoor on her debut at Le Bal des Débutantes?
A. I just told her to go, have fun and make as many friends as possible. I made so many friends with whom I am still in touch. I just wanted her to enjoy and be herself and take loads of pictures because this moment is never going to come back.
Q. Have you watched Suhana Khan’s short film The Grey Part of Blue? What did you think of it?
A. Suhana is a brilliant actor. We used to do plays together in school and we did acting classes together. We actually went to the New York Film Academy together for an acting course when we were younger. Suhana is one of the most talented people I know. She is a great dancer, she sings, she does everything. I think she is amazing. I am really looking forward to her debut. Hopefully, the three of us (Shanaya, Suhana and Ananya) can do something together. That will be my dream come true.
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