Diwali 2019: Ananya Panday recalls being ditched by cousins while lighting firecrackers, Chunky says he grew up feeling ‘it was the only way to celebrate’
They are yet to share 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 have done by bringing together father-daughter duo, Ananya and Chunky Panday for an exclusive Diwali special shoot, at the Panday household in Bandra.
“It’s a lot of fun [being with my dad]. Things are very chilled out as both of us are very comfortable whenever we are together. It doesn’t feel like ‘work’ when you are working with your dad,” says Ananya, even as Chunky quips that his daughter and wife always “give him tuitions” before any interview. Excerpts from a chat with the father-daughter duo:
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, and not just us but even with my cousins, uncles and aunts, we celebrate every festival — be it Christmas, Easter, Eid, Diwali or our birthdays. But Diwali is one special festival when everyone really comes together. So, it’s absolutely necessary that we go to everyone’s house and light diyas. That has had 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: It’s bad for the environment and we have dogs at home, too, who get very scared during Diwali. The only thing that we are against [during the festival] is firecrackers. Also, we live near a hospital so anyway, we were never allowed to burst crackers.
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 remember is that my cousin, Ahaan, and his friends would really scare me. I remember, they would egg me on to light a rocket, and also come with me, but right before I would light it up, they would leave me alone and run away.
Chunky: Ananya is a Diwali baby in the sense that her birthday is always around the festival. I feel Diwali has become very quiet and subdued now, in the sense that one shouldn’t burst crackers and go crazy about them. But as a kid, we grew up with feeling that burning crackers was the only way to celebrate the festival.
Ananya: I also remember how me, my younger sister, Raisa and my cousin, Alanna would dress up in similar clothes. We would wear the same kind of salwar-kameez. Plus, we used to eat a lot of barfis, kaju katlis, visit everyone’s homes and I would also make rangolis.
Chunky: As a kid, we would do some crazy things including throwing crackers at people. We would light up rockets and they would enter people’s houses and cars. Once, I remember, when I was about six, living with my grandmother at that time, the house caught fire due to the crackers. Fire brigade was called in, and I got a real pasting of life (laughs). I used to be a real naughty and rough kid when it came to such things. Luckily, I have daughters, who are very normal (smiles).
Ananya, as compared to the last Diwali, you celebrate the latest one as a Bollywood actor. How does it feel?
Ananya: This time, 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. Technically, this is a sort of working Diwali for me. Hopefully, I will have a working birthday as well because I’ll be promoting Pati Patni Aur Woh. 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 very good thing. So, there are no complaints about that. She recently got an award and I went on the stage to give her that. Karan [Johar] asked me to say something ‘emotional’ but I couldn’t, as I know I would have started crying if I did. So, instead, I cracked every joke possible.
Would you two like to work with each other? And on what kind of a film?
Ananya: I think we will have to wait for the right thing. I don’t want to do it just for the heck of it. One thing I know is that it has to be a funny, comedy movie. It will be so much fun. I want to be Govinda to my dad, and recreate that magic. I know those are very big shoes to fill. They had a fantastic partnership.
Chunky: Maybe, it can be a father-daughter road trip going completely crazy or something like that.
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