Model and actor Laila Panda talks about the influx of models from around the globe in the Indian entertainment industry, her first ever assignment for Kodak and her journey in the industry.
Laila Panda remembers her initial days in Mumbai as an upcoming model and the excitement of her first work opportunity. “When I came to Mumbai, I didn’t have a portfolio. I was working in Delhi before and the standards are different in the two cities. In Mumbai, you have to learn a lot of things to face the camera. I figured it would cost me 50,000 rupees to get my portfolio made and I had money enough to pay for my living. So I called up Suvo Das Photography – very well-known photographer and also a nice human being. He brings out the best in you. I called him and said I needed a couple of pictures shot but did not have any money. He just asked me to go to Delhi and he clicked just one photo; I literally use it as my logo. This picture gave me Kodak. They wanted that smile and face. I have no idea how it ended up with them. They wanted everything exactly like the photo. Overnight my picture was all over India, That photo is me. That is what I am,” she says bringing back those sweet old days into focus.
The shift in the industry is apparent when, Laila points out, the number of models from other parts of the world taking over the ad industry other than Bollywood movie stars bagging all kinds of brands. “Hindustan mein people want everything to look white. The background dancers are from Russia and Brazil. They get paid 15,000 rupees, while an Indian background dancer gets paid about 6,000 for the same amount of work. These girls from the other parts of the world don’t have any career; they come for 3 months, fill money in their bags and go. They are so flexible, and ready to do “anything and everything”. It affects our economy. There is no work for girls in India with dreams. Initially there used to be a lot of catalogue shoots but now the firangs have taken over all the hoardings. You don’t see one Indian woman. We cannot go to Brazil and do ads there. There are hardly any Indians who have done that.
Secondly, 50% ads are done by film stars. I shouldn’t say this but Priyanka Chopra is in a bartan bar commercial. I can understand if she is in a Lux commercial. I did Maggi ad and the next year Madhuri Dixit was doing it. They have been there and done it. People don’t need constant reminders; they have been there and done that; I think they should rest a little,” she laughs.
Laila, originally from Odisha and raised in Delhi, was crowned Miss Odisha. With 10 years under her belt, her “Wow” moments are countless. “Being Miss Odisha is definitely one of them. I got nominated for the National award in 2009 for the film Undertrail. I was playing Raj Pal Yadav‘s daughter in the movie. Some other ones include my first gold medal – for a debate. I am good at public speaking and group discussions,” she beams.
Currently she is focusing on her production company that she seems the most excited about. “I have done enough ads [more than 200 TVCs!] and am concentrating more on feature films. Television is not my cup of tea; maybe when I am 45. I just don’t want to get into TV so quickly. I want to do some quality work and want to enjoy what I do. My production company is called “Silver Lining Movies”. Every actor has an appetite; if you are not happy with what you do; you need to create work for yourself,” she signs off.
Here are some entertaining commercials of Laila Panda:
Nutralite – ‘healthier than butter’ TVC:
Assignment Abroad Times campaign:
Pears Miss Mummy 2014:
IAD wishes Laila Panda the best with her production company! 🙂