Cinemas inspire me a lot; the journey with the characters and their creators" – Devna Pani
Rajiv Menon Productions has given us many memorable ads and a reason to discuss relentlessly about them off TV. While the whole world is going gaga over finding who the new Telugu Rexona soap ad girl is, IAD gets to speak to Devna Pani herself! Here are excerpts from the exclusive chat with the 24-year-old pretty Mumbaikar, who has re-personified the soap brand. 🙂
Devna is daughter of veteran filmmaker, Uday Shankar Pani, who has produced and directed a number of feature and short films and TV series like Captain Vyom, Indradhanush and Dekh Bhai Dekh. Her elder sister, Bhavna Pani, is an accomplished model, actress and a dancer, currently leading the Bharati The Show.
Devna Pani has been doing commercial modelling for almost four years now! Her fresh looks and enchanting charm also made her a heroine in a Tollywood film, Needa (2013).
Like her father, Devna is also a creative person and loves to sketch in her free time. She is a big film buff, too. “I literally study films in all of their aspects, camera angles, frames, shot composition…” says Devna, excited, “Cinemas inspire me a lot. It’s more like a journey with the characters and their creators than mere watching.”
Upon asking if she ever plans to take up direction, she explains, “Well, becoming a director in future seems interesting but at present I am too busy performing and nothing is more creatively satisfying!”
Tell us about your studies?
I studied at Utpal Shanghvi School and went to S.N.D.T. Women’s University and Sophia College, Mumbai. I have a graduation degree in Fashion Designing.
How did you get into modelling?
I was working as a fashion stylist, but was feeling bored being behind the camera. One day I got an opportunity to come to the front… and thus the journey began.
What was your first assignment and how was the experience?
I was really nervous while shooting for my debut ad film for Polo Mint. It was a solo act and I was scared, but when the ad went on air, I was really thrilled! 🙂
How many ads have you done so far and for which agencies?
I must have done close to 70 advertisements, both national and regional. I have worked with Lintas, JWT, and many big agencies. Some of the top brands would be Anne French, Polo Mint, McDonalds, Act II Popcorn, Micromax, Domino’s Pizza, Dish TV, Indica Hair Dye, Aromaz Skin Cream, HT Mint, Premier Cookware, Shaadi.com, Sony Max, ibibo.com, Bhima Jewellers print, and Ramdev Masala. I’ve also done work for major jewellery brands, especially in Kochi, Kerala. The Rexona soap commercial was for Hindustan Unilever (HUL).
Who is your favorite ad film director?
That’s a tough question… But, in terms of learning, I would say it is Rajiv Menon sir. while shooting for Rexona ad, he literally changed my perspective on what the industry demands. The shoot actually gave me a lot of boost and confidence and it could be seen in all my later works. I would love to work with him again.
How was working for Needa like?
I am really amazed by the way the Telugu film industry works; organized and technically very strong. The attitude of people is cool and concerned. They treat heroines like a queen! 😉 I had a very beautiful experience working with the cast and crew and it is something that I’ll never forget. Needa is a very honest film and I believe it’ll be liked by all.
Your experience in the city?
I was in Hyderabad for the film for 45 days. I used to explore the city and enjoyed roaming and fell in love with the city. There is so much to see… It was more like a vacation… I carried back a lot of memories.
What are you currently working on? Do you want to get into Bollywood?
I want to do quality work and be part of good films and that is all that matters to me. I am in talks with some projects and have few offers, but can’t talk about them right now…
What do you enjoy the most – ads or films?
Doing ads is more like having a good time. I get to do something new every time and it is always a learning experience. Unlike ads where there are true perfectionists, films move bit faster. Both are good in their own place. If you enjoy, you enjoy!
Any plans of featuring on small screen?
I am not very keen on doing television soaps right now, but I will not miss any good opportunity. The order of preference, however, is cinemas, ads and then TV. 🙂
Something about your family…
I’ve already told you about my father and sister. My mother [Soudamini Pani] is a homemaker. She’s also a yoga instructor and the hardest-working person in the house! My family is very supportive. They always encouraged me to pursue my dreams.
What are your hobbies and favorite pastimes?
I love to sketch and that is how fashion designing was one of my interests. I pick up anything which is interesting and informative to read, and I am a big movie buff. I work out, go on long walks, and exercise to destress.
Some scans of her sketches:
What’s your favorite food and do you cook?
I like Continental and Italian… I also enjoy boiled and grilled food. Yes, I enjoy cooking.
When is your birthday and what’s your relationship status?
It’s 30 December and I’m single!
Anything to readers and the millions of Rexona ad fans?
It’s the thrill of your appreciation that pushes me to go ahead and do more. I really love them for all the support and love. Keep your trust in me… I’m going to be very entertaining. 🙂
Time for some Advertainment!
Nestle Polo – The Mint with the Hole Socialite ad:
Anne French Roll On – Devna with Kareena Kapoor:
Aromaz with Karisma:
Premier Non-Stick Cookware TVC:
Stealing all the limelight in the 30 sec show of McDonald’s McEgg ad:
Devna Pani in the much coveted Rexona Soap 2013 tvc:
Anmol Marie (Bengali) TVC:
In Premier Express Mixer advert:
Act II Popcorn advertisement:
My favourite Rocky Discover Yourself! promo on Sony Pix:
– Interviewed by Wajendhar