From Sydney to Salman Khan : Ananya Soni talks about her passage to Bollywood

By Rekha Rajvanshi

It was not very long ago when Sydney’s Ananya Soni decided to leave her medicine career to get into the most competitive Bollywood film industry and Modelling in India. There are very few, who chase their dreams and follow them with passion and focus, Ananya is one of them.

After winning a few beauty titles here in Australia- Miss India Australia International 2015 and Miss Asia World 2016, Ananya decided to move to Mumbai to fulfil her ambition of acting and modelling. She started her career with modelling assignments. She got her first break in 2017 and has done over fifty commercials by now. Ananya has  modelled and acted in print and television advertising campaigns including  CP Plus CCTV with Salman Khan, Zee Promo,  Flyrobe  with Sumeet Vyas, Dominos,  Kalyan Jewellers, Jean-Claude Biguine, Fitternity, Samsung, Papaya Nature Power Soap  and  Rupa Front Line with Ranveer Singh.

Ananya made her Telugu film debut in ‘Shamantakamani’  opposite Sundeep Kishan and Sudheer Babu. The film was  released in 2017 and garnered rave reviews.  She is currently filming her second South Project. She has also co-written a web-series for an OTT platform, along with a Mumbai based award-winning director and producer.  Here is  Ananya in a tête-à-tête, telling us all about her sojourns, pleasant and some not so pleasant ones with the film industry and modelling:

Tell us about your upbringing and family background. Does your family support you for your career choice?  

Ananya: I was born in India but my parents migrated here when I was a baby. I grew up in an academic environment, amongst books in my Mum’s library. Like other Indian parents, my mum heavily believed in extracurricular activities so I was sent to learn Kathak, pop and jazz dancing, drama and swimming etc. I am passionate about the nature and the world in general. I also love reading and write poetry in my free time. I remember taking part in ILASA’s youth poetry competition at the NSW Parliament House and reciting Hindi poem penned by Harivansh Rai Bachchan. Later my book ”˜15 Poems to Change the World’ was launched into the State Library where my mother worked. My family always supported me in whatever I wanted to do and that’s the reason I could pursue my career in modeling and films.

When did you realize you wanted to be a model or a film actor?

Ananya: I was studying medicine and never thought of modelling and acting until I won Miss India Australia International 2015 and Miss Asia World 2016 in Sydney. That gave me a new direction. I went to NIDA to do a short course in acting, which raised my confidence and knowledge required in film acting and modelling. I had already completed my medicine degree when I went to India. My parents and I knew if things do not work out for me, I always had a fall back.

What was your first big break in the industry? Any Challenges?

Ananya: You have to be at the right place at the right time. My advertising assignments started with Dominos but the big break came in 2017, when I worked in a CCTV advertisement with Salman Khan. The ad was promoted so much that must have pushed me in the lime light and people started noticing me. I am glad that industry liked my work and I consider myself fortunate to get some interesting assignments with stars like Vidya Balan, Ranveer Singh etc.

Yes, there were many challenges at the beginning. Like other actors from overseas, I was also labelled as an ”˜NRI dumb girl’ who might not understand Indian culture and values or might not speak Hindi well. I broke those stereotypes and fitted well in the industry. My first break in the film industry came through a Telugu film ‘Shamantakamani.’

How is the model’s life and career especially for women?

Ananya: Modelling is a glamourous career; successful models earn name, fame and money. However, not many people realize that this profession requires you to be physically fit and mentally alert all the time. There are many challenges such as crazy timings, long shoot schedules and constant pressure on the person to perform well.

Despite all that I love this career. I was fortunate to work with some great directors and actors, I definitely learned from them. Entire landscape of Bollywood cinema and modelling is changing. Women’s image in film and media has also enhanced. They are not the actor/director’s puppets anymore; they are bold, have mind of their own and able to make their own decisions.

How do you deal with rejection? Not being selected when you feel you were the best candidate?  

Ananya: Rejection is part and parcel of the career and in my career it happens quite a lot. Sometimes you get to the final stage of a very big dream project when it falls apart. It may happen for many reasons. Sometimes director is looking for something more in the actor, then I try to work on it and refine myself, but at times director realizes that they require a different looking model or actor, in that situation nothing can be done. We need to learn to deal with rejection. Having a good support system around us is very important. Good friends, who support and love you.

You have acted in the films too, how is it different to modelling?  

Ananya: I enjoy both.  But in modelling; you can be a spokesperson of a brand or a product as you represent them. We go to fancy locations for ribbon cutting events or dress events, we do not say a word; it is as if we become a prop, but films are much more fun. It is like bringing a make believe character alive. Modelling is less risky as compared to films. While in film, you lose your credibility as an actor if movies fail.

What’s your favorite outfit to wear to castings?

Ananya: I normally try to look simple, casual and as natural as possible like a blank canvas. I use natural make up and leave my curly hair open. I often present myself as a blank piece of paper so that directors can work on it. The look is like ”˜I am just clay you can mould me the way you like.’

Which make-up brands are you using?

Ananya: I use world-renowned MAC products but I love many Australian brands too. I love Bobby Brown, Naaz, KORA by Miranda Kerr. I pick and choose best products from them.

Tell us something about your upcoming projects.

Ananya: I have a few projects in pipeline. I cannot reveal much at this stage but I am currently co-writing and directing a web series. It is a kind of romantic thriller with suspense. I will play the lead character in that.

Do you have any advice for those who want to start modelling?

Ananya: My biggest advice to them is to be persistent and patient. Every day is a new day, forget about your failures and try again. Do not give up on your dreams. Having positive people around you is important. Do not indulge in gossips and negativity, just focus on your work. It is competitive but worth trying. Do one thing at a time but do it well is the Mantra of success.


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