Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore’s Editor-in-Chief Kenneth Goh caught up with Bollywood star Ananya Panday live from the Dior Fall 2023 show in Mumbai, India, to learn more about what she loves about the brand, how she got into acting, and whether she plans on coming to Singapore anytime soon.
Tell us some of your favourite looks from the collection.
I loved everything that was in the colour I’m wearing, which is rani pink, because it really stands out and I’m someone who loves a pop of colour. And the last showstopper outfit, there was a flowerly corset top and the skirt. It was beautiful.
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Where would you wear that look?
I can’t say my wedding because that’ll be really hectic, so maybe someone else’s wedding, like my friend’s wedding.
Let’s go into your history. You’re known to be the daughter of Chunky Panday. Growing up, did you always know you wanted to be in Bollywood?
I always knew I wanted to be an actor. I didn’t know how it was going to happen. And of course, my father’s an actor as well, so I always looked up to him. I was always fascinated by the life that he lived. But I also saw the hard side that he faced. I realised at a very young age that it can look glamorous on the outside, but there’s a lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifice, and a lot of commitment that goes into it. And I think that’s ingrained in me somewhere now, everyday. That’s something I try to imbibe in my work ethic, as well. So I always joke that as soon as I popped out of my mom, I knew I wanted to be an actor but I just didn’t know how I was going to do it. So it’s always been acting for me.
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Tell me about your relationship with fashion. How did that start? What inspires you about fashion? Maybe how you’ve used fashion to transform yourself as an actor in movies?
I think honestly, I’m going to start with the last part of your question because I feel like nothing gets me into the skin of my character like getting into costume. I can rehearse as much as I want, learn all my lines, I can do a hundred other things, but I’m not completely my character until I get into hair, makeup. And it can be the smallest of things. It can just be a watch, or a wedding ring that the character wears all the time or a necklace. But it just transports you into that world so easily. My relationship with fashion has been pretty chill. I’m someone who’s never taken it too seriously. I like to have fun with it. I like to make mistakes, take my chances. And I’ve been inspired by the women in my life, especially my grandmother, who’s my dad’s mother, my dadi. Sadly she passed away two years ago, but I’ve kept a lot of her things. She was, til she was 80, she would have red streaked hair. She would carry a handbag, she’d wear her high heels, and she’d mix and match all kinds of prints. So she’s been a huge influence on my fashion.
I’m wondering if you have any thoughts about Singapore. Have you ever been?
I have been when I was much younger, but I really want to go again. I haven’t been recently, but I love the culture. I love the people. Every time I see a picture of Singapore, I feel like it’s like this vibe is thrown on you. It’s so vibrant. It’s so alive. A photograph of Singapore is just alive. My dad shot a lot of films there.
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If you could shoot in one place in Singapore, what would it be?
Ananya: What do you think?
Kenneth: Maybe on top the Marina Bay Sands? Famous architecture.
Ananya: Let’s manifest it.
Tell us a little bit about your career aspirations in and outside of Bollywood.
I’m actually working on my tenth project right now. It’s my fourth year in the industry, and I’m actually doing a show right now. My first show that I’m doing, and it’s a show that’s actually filled with fashion and beauty. So that’s why it was a really big deal for me to be here and get inspired by all the beautiful artwork around me. There are a few projects that are releasing this year, but right now I’m focusing on acting. But I do have a DSR, a digital social responsibility, it’s called “So Positive.” And it started with an anti-online bullying campaign but it’s developed into so much more. It’s a kindness campaign that I do, so I’m working on that as well.
If you had one piece of advice on what I should see, do or take back from Mumbai, what would it be?
I would say just walk around Mumbai and especially the area you’re in. There’s so much art there, so much culture, and I don’t think you learn as much as you do from the people of the city. So just try to interact as much as you can, absorb as much as you can, and just walk.
- Ananya Panday