What separates Ananya Panday from her contemporaries? Her irrepressible charm, the girl-next-door energy and her fast-moving trajectory as an actor since her debut in Student of the Year 2. Her career graph is testimony to that. In an exclusive interview with Bazaar India, the Gen-Z actor speaks about the jewellery hauls on her travels, embracing self-expression and creating a style that's completely her own.
Harper’s Bazaar: Through the second season of the Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives, we saw your mom sport maximalist jewellery pieces. How has being Bhavana Pandey's daughter impacted your choice of everyday jewellery?
Ananya Panday: I fondly remember trying on my mother’s jewellery and playing dress up as a child. I would raid her jewellery boxes and pull-out her chandelier earrings, wear them, and pose. This made the little me feel so confident. Even today, I feel that boost of confidence when I put my jewellery on. I like to create iconic looks with statement pieces. To me, jewellery isn’t just an accessory, it’s a big part of the complete look. Which is why maximalist pieces work for me. You'll often see me in monotone outfits with a lot of bling.
HB: Jewellery in India is often intergenerational and associated with emotional legacy. Do you have such pieces in your collection too?
AP: My mother had this exquisite string of milky white sea pearls that was given to her by her mother, which I absolutely love. Each time I would see her wear it, I would tell her how much I wanted it and how it would look amazing on me. When Student of The Year 2 released, and we came back home from the premiere, I found the necklace neatly wrapped in a box on my dresser. Mom gave it to me, and, from that day, I consider it my most prized possession.
HB: The first piece of jewellery one buys is always special. What was yours and why did you choose that particular piece?
AP: I received a gorgeous Swarovski bracelet from my parents as a gift on my 16th birthday that holds such a special place in my heart. Other than that, I recently got a second ear piercing and gifted myself these adorable gold studs that I constantly wear and am obsessed with.
HB: Do you go on jewellery hunts on your travels? What's the most interesting jewellery piece you've found on one of your vacations?
AP: I love exploring local markets when I travel, and I believe in supporting artisanal crafts. This is why I’ll get an anklet from a local lady, or a string of beads from the flea market on my trips. Local crafts and jewellery have always fascinated me, and you see such a plethora of art and craft across India.
HB: There are two kinds of people—those who wear the same jewellery all the time and those who enjoy changing it on a daily basis. Which one of the two are you?
AP: As actors, we don’t simply put thought into an ‘outfit’. Often, we have to get into the skin of a character. This involves adapting your whole look to that of the character, including your jewellery. Other than that, events, occasions, and shoots govern our looks. When not on set, I try to make sure I stay true to my style as much as possible. I love having fun with jewellery, so you will see me blinged up one day and minimal on another, depending on how I’m feeling.
HB: If there was a piece of jewellery that you would not part with, what would it be and why?
AP: Let's just say one can never have too much of jewellery and clothes, so no parting ways there.
HB: Many of your mom's friends (Neelam Kothari and Maheep Kapoor) dabble in real jewellery, and she herself is seen sporting some of these pieces, both on and off the screen. Having grown up around her, do you associate that kind of jewellery more with luxury, or do costume jewels also make the cut for you?
AP: For me, luxury is all about embracing your self-expression and creating a punchy style statement for yourself. My jewellery collection has designs that are timeless and also comfortable. That said, the Millenia necklace from Swarovski is my absolute favourite. It feels so luxurious with the bold crystals, and can go from day to night so easily.
HB: So that means you are no longer hung up on "real jewellery". Would you say it is something that you as a 23-year-old also gravitate towards?
AP: Jewellery in India is rooted in tradition and culture. But as a modern generation with contemporary sensibilities, we are open to transformation. Jewellery is becoming more of a symbol of self-expression, and I am all for embracing one’s unique sense of style.