Interview By: ANKITA R. KANABAR

After turning into a star with ‘Student Of The Year 2’, she’s back with her second film – ‘Pati Patni Aur Woh’. The trailer and songs have been creating some great buzz and Ananya Pandey looks equally excited ahead of the release. With enough clarity about her craft and aim at this age, brimming with this bubbly, energetic vibe – the young lady gets chatting about her new film and more. Excerpts:

How much do you enjoy comedy?
I think, comedy and romance, both are my favourite. I think because of my dad, it’s a great thing for me that I’m doing a comedy film because I feel like I’m taking his legacy of comedy forward. So, it’s excited. And I would also love to do a super duper romantic film, which I think I am, with Ishaan.

How did you get into this role?
For this role, I had to learn to speak slowly.  I speak very fast. I won’t say I am very kiddish but I tend to make a lot of expressions, with my face and hands. And here, the character is slightly older, she is a businesswoman. So, I needed to have that ‘thairaav’ and be a little calmer. Be more ladylike, womanly while playing this character, as compared to student where I was making these faces and jokes.

How has life been after ‘SOTY 2’?
I think after ‘Student…’ I’ve got a lot of love from kids and young girls. That’s a very nice feeling for me because I remember when I watched ‘SOTY 1’, I became such a strong and loyal fan of Alia that till date she is my favourite. So, I really hope that I’ve got fans like that who are going to grow old with me. I want younger fans because they’ll grow up when I’m growing up and see a journey of me. So, I’m really happy with the response I’ve got after ‘Student…’ It means they appreciated my work for the film because before the film, it was about how I looked or about me being my father’s daughter which I’m still very proud of. But after ‘Student…’ it was more performance related which makes any actor very happy.

Did you watch the original ‘Pati Patni Aur Woh’?
I watched it long back actually, before I was even offered the film. I found it very funny and relatable and thought that even today if they make it slightly modern, it can be such a funny, universal film. Then, after I read our script, I saw it again to see how similar it was and it wasn’t. Except the name and the fact that it’s a love triangle, our film is very different. But I did enjoy the original because Sanjeev sir is such an icon and even Vidya Sinha ma’am and Ranjeeta ma’am. The film has such a recall value. ‘Pati Patni Aur Woh’ – just the name is so iconic. So, we are blessed that we got that property.

How has your character evolved to today’s times as compared to the original?
I think in the original, the ‘woh’ was more gullible and believed what the pati had to say. But now I think, the audience as well as the ‘who’ has become really smart. She wants proper information about everything that’s happening. Now the times have changed, the audience has changed. I think now, the pati has to convince the audience along with the ‘woh’. I think that’s changed.

You’ve started out so young, and your growth even as a person will be for people to see. How do you sort of take that? It is sometimes scary that you’re judged or may make mistakes?
No, it doesn’t scare me. Rather, I feel, it’s very empowering. When I’m making mistakes, I’m actually showing a lot of young girls out there that it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to be normal. If I don’t know something, I’d say I don’t know anything about it, rather than making it seem like I am amazing. I don’t know everything in life and it’s impossible to know everything and I’m so young. So, I think more than it being scary for me, I’m taking it as a positive. If young girls are following me, I might as well use that to motivate them in the right way. My parents have never stopped me from being myself. Karan has always told me to be myself. I’m happy that in a way my growth is so public because I’m actually inspiring young girls out there to be themselves.

Do you feel there’s also a sense of responsibility now while choosing films?
Absolutely! I don’t think I will be attracted to a film which is either misogynistic or sexist or irresponsible in any way. Also, just because I’m the ‘woh’ in this film, doesn’t mean I’m encouraging extra-marital affairs. Personally, I might never want to be in that situation but at the end of the day, it’s a character. If I’m playing myself on-screen then what’s the point. When you’re making a film, it’s not supposed to be real-life. Ifyou’re not hurtful, misogynistic or sexist or anything like that; then I think you’re fine, it’s a film.

But despite being so young, you seem to have clarity in your thoughts. Also, does that help to relate to your characters better?
Yes, I think I’ve always been a person who loves talking and listening to people. For me, human connection is damn important. And you know what I love doing in my free time is sitting and watching interviews. I just love to hear what people have to say and you have so much to learn from people’s personal experiences. I’m very blessed to have lived in this bubble and grow up in a family where my dad is an actor; he’s given me everything I’ve wanted in my life. But the characters I’m playing are not like that. So, the only thing I can do to be what my characters are, is observing. That’s the most important.

What is it that you take as learning from your father?
He taught me that it’s not about how you deal with your failure, it’s about how you deal with your success. That shows the kind of person you are. With success at this age, you can get carried away easily. I think it matters how you deal with your success. It’s important to be neutral, whether it’s success or failure because it’s going to change eventually. That’s what he’s taught me. And more than him giving me advice, I’ve just observed it as a personal experience as to how he has dealt with situations in his life.

Tell us about your next.
It’s called ‘Khaali Peeli’ with Ishaan Khatter. Like I said, I was dying to do a full-on romantic film and this has that I believe. Ishaan is so much fun, whenever he comes, it’s like a storm has entered the room. If you’ll think I talk a lot, then Ishaan is like, me multiplied by ten! Those promotions will be something else only. But that film will be very different because the lingo of my character is so different. In my first two films, it’s how I speak in real life. But my character in that film, Pooja, my lingo is very different. It’s a very Mumbaiyya lingo. That’s actually the first film where I’ve had to change the way I speak. And I actually found it interesting because when you separate the character from who you are as a person, then you’re less conscious. That’s why with that film, I’m very uninhibited. It’s like I’m doing anything and getting away with it because I’m not playing myself, it’s a character. So, Pooja can do anything. Another thing is that, the entire film is set at night and Tiger used to sleep at 10, so we’ve not done any night shoots. So, for me, this full film being set at night is a challenge.

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