Bollywood actor Ananya Panday, 21, has an unconventional theory about playing the ‘other woman’ in the romantic comedy ‘Pati Patni Aur Woh’, out in the UAE cinemas on December 5.
“People expect you to be some sort of a vamp in this situation … But when you watch the film, you will realise that Tapasya is an empathetic, strong, confident woman with a lot of self-respect,” said Panday.
The one-movie-old actor, who made her Bollywood breakthrough with the glossy college drama ‘Student Of The Year 2,’ seems to have jumped to the dark side with her second film.
Often described as top producer-director Karan Johar’s discovery, Panday — a portrait of privilege and access — had no reservations of playing a role that immediately comes with a lot of negative baggage.
“I had no reservations about playing the ‘other woman’. I was just happy and excited that filmmakers are now considering me for different kinds of roles. As an actor, I don’t want anyone to take that away from me because I want people to see me in different kinds of roles.” Her biggest fear in her fledgling career is that she would be typecast and stereotyped into the reductive Bollywood’s PYT a.k.a Pretty Young Thing club.
“But knowing that I am doing everything in my power to play roles that are far from my reality is what keeps that fear in check.”
Also starring Kartik Aaryan and Bhumi Pednekar, ‘Pati Patni Aur Woh’ is directed by Muddassir Aziz and is an update on the 1978 Bollywood comedy by the same title starring Sanjeev Kumar, Vidya Sinha and Ranjita Kaur. Panday has seen the original twice, but believes that you don’t have to be familiar with it to contextualise her film.
“It is a modern version. Our audience has changed and people have changed. It is no longer black or white in relationships. There are greys now and that’s where the film will be different. It’s a love triangle that arises from a sticky situation and that never goes out of style. Our movie is very relatable.”
While she says those words, her instant ‘no’ when asked if she would tolerate infidelity in her own personal space was a strong telltale sign.
“That was a quick answer, right. I am playing a character and that doesn’t mean that I am encouraging extramarital affairs. As a person I am against lying and cheating. In my opinion, I wouldn’t accept it in my relationship and I would never want to come in the way of anyone else’s relationships either,” said Panday.
She was born into an acting family and her father Chunkey Pandey is known as an impressive comic actor, who is now dabbling in villain roles.
Did Panday, who is extremely popular on social media, always want to be an actor?
“I am loving my phase right now. My dad is an actor and I knew that acting isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. There are going to be rumours about you that you are not going to like, there will be insecurities ... But I just didn’t want the glamorous part alone. I want all of it. I am enjoying every minute of it,” said Panday. Both father and daughter have made it crystal clear that her career took off based on her own steam and merit and not through any influence exerted by her actor-father. Just like any outsider, doing auditions and facing rejections is all in a day’s work for this rising talent.
“I don’t take fame too seriously. I have been told constantly by my parents and by Karan that it’s important that I don’t take the success or adulation too seriously. It’s OK to make mistakes … I am all dressed up in this film and during its promotions or I may look glam on a magazine cover, but in real life, I am chilled out … I am a normal, regular 21-year-old at the end of the day.” If she isn’t filming, she will be found in ‘chappals’ [flip-flops] with my hair tied up and not-so ironed clothes, she adds.
So what’s her biggest lesson that she has learnt during her coltish years in this unstable, but addictive world of entertainment?
“Don’t have unrealistic expectations foisted on you when you are young … That will break you. Be yourself and I know there are a lot of kids like me out there who look up to me. I will never forget that.
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‘Pati Patni Aur Woh’ releases in the UAE on December 5.
“It is such an honour to have my name uttered in the same sentence. He [Karan Johar, her mentor director who discovered her and gave her an acting break] is so talented. It’s a big responsibility and privilege to be called his discovery.” — Ananya Panday.
KARTIK AARYAN’S CHEATSHEET
Bollywood actor Kartik Aaryan, who plays the confused and wily Chintu Tyaagi in the romantic comedy ‘Pati Patni Aur Woh’, believes that his biggest strength as an actor is his relatability.
“They see themselves in me. The audiences relate to my characters and my situations,” said Aaryan in a separate interview.
And by ‘situation’ he means he’s a married man who’s attracted to a younger woman and makes it his business to lie and cheat his way through his marriage in his new film. Actress Bhumi Pednekar plays his devout wife, while Ananya Panday plays the magnetic ‘other woman’. While the actors don’t condone adultery in their personal space, what makes him cheat and lie to his own partner, we wonder.
“The movie explores the monotony that sets in a marriage and it explores the concept of temptation that comes in your life unexpectedly. Both the women in his life are wonderful, but he gets confused.”
While it’s an overly simplistic explanation to being unfaithful, Aaryan has this amazing ability to inject vulnerability into his flawed misdeeds.
In his hit romantic comedy series ‘Pyaar Ka Punchnamma,’ Aaryan played a 20-something young man who is yet to figure out what a woman wants and rattles out sexist complaints against women in a funny manner. He’s known for his lengthy monologues in comedies where he launches a tirade against women and their unpredictable nature. The makers of his latest film, ‘Pati Patni Aur Woh,’ tried to cash in on his notoriety and bizarre talent.
But it backfired spectacularly as his character went too far in his tirade against the monotony in marriage and how wives withhold intimacy at the slightest of reasons. The problematic dialogue from the trailer in which his character vents to his friend saying when a husband asks for sex, he becomes a beggar and if a husband tricks his wife into sex, he is a rapist was immediately condemned in a nation where rape is a burning issue.
But Aaryan assumes responsibility along with his team for not thinking the lines through.
“I don’t want to justify that dialogue at all. So what happened after the trailer launch, we sat together and the whole team decided to change a few things. We didn’t want to hurt anyone’s sentiments. That’s the reason why we rectified it … Apart from that the film has garnered a lot of positive response,” said Aaryan.