She jokes that she is 16! But Bengali actress Ananya Chatterjee is dead serious when she says she has a long way to go. Sheer hard work and commitment to acting have helped her win the National Film Award, she asserts.
"I think the National Award has created a benchmark for me. Now I need to live up to the expectations of my audience," Ananya Chatterjee told IANS in an exclusive interview.
"Winning it is an amazing and wonderful experience. But it is not the last thing. This is just a first step. I still have a long way to go," she added.
When asked her age, she smiled and said: "I'm 16!"
At the 57th National Film Awards, she won the best actress trophy for her performance in Rituparno Ghosh's "Abohoman", which was also declared the best Bengali feature film at the same event.
In "Abohoman", Ananya was seen as an upcoming actress, Shikha, with whom a senior film director falls in love. Her performance was acclaimed both nationally and internationally.
Born and brought up in Kolkata, Ananya was a student of biology at Jogamaya Devi and says "acting happened accidentally".
She has been a household name in West Bengal thanks to her stint in serials and telefilms. She started her acting career with TV soap Din Pratidin and later acted in various popular Bengali mega-serials. She also tried her hand in telefilms.
In no time she established herself as a talented and hardworking actress in the Bengali film industry. She landed three telefilms directed by renowned filmmaker Anjan Dutt.
A confident Ananya describes her journey from serials to the National Award as an outcome of sheer hard work and commitment to acting.
"I still remember the first day when I stood in front of the camera. On that day neither I nor others ever thought I would one day walk on stage for a national award. It's a really amazing journey. But I still have a long way to go," said Ananya who lives with her mother and grandmother.
She made her debut on the silver screen in 2005 with the horror movie Raat Barota Paanch. But it was her performance in Angshumaner Chobi and Dwando that won her critical acclaim and established her in the film industry as a dark horse. Both the movies were released in 2009.
Her acting talent drew the attention of National Award winning director Rituparno Ghosh and he offered her a role in Abohoman.
When asked who was a better director - Anjan Dutt or Rituparno Ghosh, a diplomatic Ananya said: "Both are very good and are really very sweet people to work with.
"I have a slightly better equation with Anjanda as I have worked with him in three projects. Earlier, I dubbed a Rituda film. But this is the first time I worked in his film as an actor and this role earned me the award."
Is she eyeing Bollywood?
"If offers come, then I will definitely work (in Hindi films). I have heard that many people have asked for DVDs of my film," said Ananya.
"I want to work with almost all the renowned directors of Bollywood. The list includes Yash Chopra, Mani Ratnam, Dibakar Banerjee, Anurag Kashyap and many others. I want to work with all of them," giggled Ananya.
For Ananya, who is also a trained dancer, her dream role is a character revolving around a dancer. Before starting her acting career, she was a dancer in Mamata Shankar's ballet troupe.