Ananya Panday says Shakun Batra was on her list of directors to work with: ‘It was everything I could have dreamed of’

Actor Ananya Panday recently celebrated her 22nd birthday and when you ask her how she feels about turning a year older in Bollywood, she only feels excited for newer, greater things. Ananya says unlike what most might expect, she actually wishes that people would see her as someone older than her actual age.

Ananya says she doesn’t want to be treated like a ‘baby’. “I am excited to grow up. It’s been a year for me in the industry and it has been two years for Ishaan (Khatter, her co-star in Khaali Peeli). We are learning new things every day and gaining new experiences. I am looking forward to growing up in general and also in the industry. Because I feel the older I get, the more things I am capable to do,” she said in an interview to Hindustan Times.

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The actor’s latest release is Khaali Peeli. The film is directed by Maqbool Khan and stars her opposite Ishaan Khatter. Ananya plays the feisty Pooja, who runs away from her forced wedding and meets her childhood sweetheart on a fateful night. A typical Bollywood masala film, it strays from the usual in its treatment of its heroine. Pooja is not an accessory to the hero in the film and is capable of making her own way out of trouble, on bus roofs and into a stranger’s taxi. Ask Ananya about it and she would tell you how much the role was a pleasant change from the ordinary for her.

“Khaali Peeli is a typical, romantic, masala film. It has a bit of everything. But for me, what was the most exciting part of the film was the treatment of the film. We aren’t the typical hero and heroine. Pooja, my character, is not a damsel in distress. She gets in on the fight. She is a part of the action sequences. I thought that was really, really cool. When sir narrated the film to us, I was like ‘Oh my god! Is she really going to do all that stuff?’ It’s the first time I have ever done action in a film. So I really, really like that and I think Pooja is super fun, she is street smart, she is nakhrewali, fully filmy. She is a full-on Hindi picture hero and I really, really like that. It is really cool to see female characters like that on screen. So many people told me after watching that ‘You weren’t that typical abla naari. You got into the action, fought for yourself’,” she said.

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Ananya is also filming one of the most anticipated, upcoming films–a domestic noir by Shakun Batra. The film is enveloped in mystery with no details about their film’s plot being revealed yet. It also stars Deepika Padukone and Siddhant Chaturvedi. Talking about working with Shakun, Ananya says he is a dream director for any actor. “I am also really excited for this film because Shakun is like a dream director for me. I have this list of people that I want to work with and Shakun is on that list. So for me when I got the opportunity to work with him, I put a tick mark near his name. It was a really surreal for me. It was everything I could have dreamed of. We did a lot of workshops and readings. Shakun is just an amazing director for an actor to work with. He gives you so much space and clear instructions. He just lets you play when you are on screen. So I am really enjoying the equation I have with Shakun,” she said, adding that her, Deepika and Siddhant are like a family on sets and that she is excited to see how people receive the film, considering that it explores a new genre.

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