Ananya Panday clocks five years in Bollywood, yet struggles to find footing and get audience’s acceptance

Actress Ananya Panday, who entered the film domain with Student of the Year 2, marks her fifth anniversary in the industry. Yet, despite the years, Panday continues to grapple with winning over her audience, many of whom remain unconvinced by her performances. With an array of roles in movies like Gehraiyaan, Dream Girl 2, and Kho Gaye Hum Kahan, Panday is still searching for that breakthrough role that will cement her as a credible actress and allow her to shine independently in her craft.

Ananya Panday’s first film, Student of The Year 2, hits its five-year anniversary in May.

The obstacle to her success seems to be the perception created by her on-screen and off-screen persona, industry experts suggest.

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Speaking on Panday’s selection of films, industry analyst Girish Johar points to her cautious approach in film choice. “Choosing the right projects, including endorsements and events, is key. She doesn’t always need to associate with well-known actors and directors. Why not experiment with new ideas and work with upcoming talent?” Johar suggests.

He admits that taking on a variety of characters can define an actor’s career, and believes that Panday should venture outside her comfort zone. “Numerous actors have earned their stripes by taking part in independent or smaller-scale films and achieving success through more challenging paths. Ananya should consider this direction—taking risks might lead to the big breakthrough she has been seeking,” he further advises.

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Following her high-fashion entry in SOTY 2, Panday took on a leading role in Pati Patni Aur Woh alongside Kartik Aaryan and Bhumi Pednekar, but it failed to make a strong impact. Her follow-up virtual release Khaali Peeli, during the peak of the pandemic, also failed to garner attention. In 2021, she attempted a shift with the adult-themed Gehraiyaan, but faced heavy competition from co-stars Deepika Padukone and Siddhant Chaturvedi.

Her 2022 collaboration with Vijay Deverakonda in Liger promised to widen her appeal and introduce her to southern audiences, yet the film underperformed with a lackluster reception and critical panning of her character portrayal.

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Ramesh Bala, a trade analyst from Chennai, elaborates on Panday’s missed opportunity in the south Indian film scene. “Liger was a disappointment. Ananya’s role lacked depth, reducing her character to cliché stereotypes which became the target of ridicule. Often in male-centric commercial cinema, female roles are marginalized, which was Ananya’s experience with this project. It may take time for her to recover in the southern film circuit,” Bala specifies.

Despite the need for improvements in her acting abilities, industry voices strongly suggest that Panday’s public image is equally in need of reevaluation, which currently impedes her professional advancement.

An insider notes that an actor’s public portrayal plays a crucial role in audience reception. Someone with firsthand knowledge comments on the precariousness of Panday’s image management. “Maintaining a strong personal brand is vital. Ananya is frequently the subject of online mockery and isn’t taken seriously. While she benefits from industry connections, this will only get her so far; talent is what lasts. If she’s viewed as lacking dedication or becomes known for frivolous activities, her professional credibility will suffer,” the insider concludes.

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