Ananya Panday excited for 2021 but says, ‘I don’t want to have a sense of having arrived’

One and a half years into her acting journey, with three released films and two in the pipeline — Ananya Panday’s career is clearly shaping up well.

2020 might have affected Khaali Peeli’s theatrical release, but it nevertheless managed to garner eyeballs on a pay-per-view and drive-in theatre release. And she also got back to work amid the pandemic, shooting for director Shakun Batra’s untitled next with Deepika Padukone and Sidhant Chaturvedi. And now, 2021 is set to be a jam-packed year, with this one and her pan-India film, Fighter with Telugu star Vijay Deverakonda releasing.

Excerpts from an interview with the 22-year-old:

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2021 looks set to be a busy one for you, with two releases confirmed, in uncertain times like these. Does that make you feel more excited than nervous?

It’s a mix of everything. Both are very different films. Shakun’s film is what he calls a domestic noir, very different from what’s been done before. I’m very excited to be working with him, Deepika and Sid, we’ve all bonded and become really close. Plus, the shooting experience in Goa after so long, it feels like I have another family on that set. Shakun is my bucket list director. Working with Puri (Jagannathan, director of Fighter) sir was a completely different experience. It’s an out and out masala action comedy, he’s the best at that. It’s a pan India film, releasing in four different languages.

How much of a challenge is it making a pan India film?

It makes me nervous. When I had to debut in Hindi with Student of the Year 2, it made me excited yet anxious. Now, it’s like entering four industries at the same time! There’s the same thought process, ‘Will I be accepted? Will people like me?’ India is such a big place, filled with so much love, culture, everyone loves movies and watching them. I hope I find a place in those industries as well. We will shoot it primarily in two languages simultaneously — Telugu and Hindi.

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How would you sum up 2020 as a year, where you had a release which got affected (Khaali Peeli)?

If I’ve to use one word, it will probably be ‘growth’. Initially, it felt like everything has come to standstill, I can’t do anything. Just sitting at home, there was a lot of personal growth, a lot of things I learnt about myself. The kind of work I want to do… I don’t think I spent so much time just with myself and my thoughts, because once I started working on SOTY, it was back to back, next was Pati, Patni Aur Woh (2019), Khaali Peeli, I had no time to sit down and register, and be grateful. A lot of that happened. Khaali Peeli was a big exciting moment, and a very special film for all of us involved. Even though it had an OTT release, it had fun elements like drive in theatre release.

With the success you’ve achieved, is there a sense of having arrived?

I don’t want to have that sense, I don’t think I ever want to feel I’ve arrived and become complacent. I feel there’s something more to do and achieve. It keeps motivating me to keep doing better. I’m blessed to be in this position to have three feature films in a span of one and a half years. The acceptance makes me feel overwhelmed, especially from children and kids, it makes my heart really warm.

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