LIGHTS AND LOVE BUT NO FIRECRACKERS
Unlike, her ‘naughty’ father, Chunky Panday, Ananya Panday has always been ‘very scared’ of firecrackers. And he feels lucky his daughters are ‘calmer’ than him
They are yet to share the screen-space in a film. After all, Ananya Panday is just one film old [her debut film being this year’s Student of The Year 2]. But then, what’s a better occasion than Diwali to do something new. And that’s exactly what we decided to do by bringing together father-daughter duo, Ananya and Chunky Panday for an exclusive Diwali special shoot, at the Panday household in Mumbai. “It’s lot of fun [to be with my dad]. In fact, whenever we are together, things are chilled out as both of us are extremely comfortable with each other. It doesn’t feel like ‘work’ when I’m working with dad,” says Ananya, even as Chunky quips that wife and daughter always “give him tuitions” before any interview. Excerpts from a chat:
What does Diwali mean to you?
Chunky: Family, lots of food, sweets, [symbolising the start of a] New Year, a bit of card parties and, of course, the pooja-paath.
Ananya: In our family — not just us but even my cousins, uncles and aunts — we celebrate every festival: be it Christmas, Easter, Eid, Diwali or our birthdays. But Diwali is really special as everyone really comes together on this festival. For us, it’s absolutely necessary that we all go to everyone’s houses, and light diyas. That has been a long-standing tradition for us. When we were younger, I would enjoy phuljharis, but I have always been very scared of firecrackers. That’s why, I always urge people not to burst crackers.
Chunky: I just don’t believe in burning money (laughs). You should rather give it for charity or something.
Ananya: Also, firecrackers are bad for the environment and we have dogs at home, too, who get very scared during Diwali. So, the only thing that we are against [during the festival] is firecrackers. Also, we live near a hospital so anyway, we all were never allowed to burst firecrackers.
Any special Diwali memories from the childhood?
Ananya: Enjoying phuljharis is the first thing that I can think of from my childhood Diwali days. I was, and still am very scared of fire. One thing that I’ll never forget is how my cousin, Ahaan, and his friends would scare me. Once, I remember, they egged me on to light a rocket, and also came with me, but right before I could light it up, they all left me alone and ran away.
Chunky: Ananya is a Diwali baby because her birthday is always around the festival (smiles). I feel Diwali has become very quiet and subdued now in the sense that we don’t see as many people burst crackers and go crazy about them. But as a kid, we grew up believing that burning crackers was the only way to celebrate the festival.
Ananya: For me, another special memory of Diwali is me, my younger sister, Raisa and my cousin, Alanna dressing up in similar clothes. We would wear the same kind of salwarkameez. Also, we’d eat a lot of barfis, kaju katlis, visit everyone’s homes and I would also make rangolis.
Chunky: My memories are about doing some really crazy things including throwing crackers at people. At times, we would light up rockets and they would enter people’s houses and cars. Once, when I was about six, living with my grand mom at that time, the house caught fire due to my crackers. Fire brigade was called in, and I got a pasting of my life (laughs). I used to be a real naughty and rough kid when it came to such things. Luckily, I have daughters, who are much calmer (smiles).
Ananya, as compared to the last Diwali, you are celebrating this one as a Bollywood actor. How does it feel?
Ananya: This time, for a change, I had to plan my work schedules around Diwali. Luckily, I am not shooting on the Diwali day and I don’t think anyone would want to do that. But I am working a day before Diwali and then two days post that. But usually, we used to have a week long holiday when I was in school. So, for me, technically, this is a sort of working Diwali. I love my work, so hopefully, I will have a working birthday as well since I’ll be promoting Pati Patni Aur Woh around that time. I feel that will be a great way to ring in my 21st birthday.
Chunky: She has got very busy after the film’s [Student of The Year 2] release. Just as a father, I feel that this is the age when she should be in a college, maybe study abroad and have fun as she’s just 20. But then, I feel being busy is a great thing. So, there are no complaints about that, and I am really happy. She recently got an award and I went on the stage to give her that. So, Karan [Johar] asked me to say something ‘emotional’ but I couldn’t, as I knew I’d have started crying if I did. Instead, I cracked jokes on stage.
Diwali has become very quiet and subdued now... as a kid, we grew up believing that burning crackers was the only way to celebrate the festival.
CHUNKY PANDAY, ACTOR