LIVING THE GOOD LIFE ALAYA FURNITUREWALA
Cosmopolitan India|November 2020
Her debut film—released earlier this year—turned out to be a success, her revamped social media account is growing by the day, and she was swamped with work even in the lockdown, before getting to indulge in a balmy breather in Dubai at the time of this interview. There has been a lot on the 22-year-old's plate, and she's only raring for more.
Humra Afroz Khan

A day before this interview was scheduled, Alaya Furniturewala—or Alaya F as she prefers to be called—had boarded a flight to Dubai, for her first “proper” holiday this year. “I don’t know after how looong I’ve stepped out,” she says enthusiastically over the phone the next day. “I can’t tell you how much I am enjoying myself!” Happy to be vicariously transported to vacaylands, I gladly probe deeper...what are her plans, what’s on the itinerary, the works. “You know, I went to eat out last night, and it felt other-worldly! I can’t even remember the last time I went to a restaurant and saw people around me...it was really nice. So yeah, there's a lot of safe going-out on the cards!” The break is a well-deserved one, that the newcomer has worked hard to earn. Alaya had her debut release, Jawaani Jaaneman, with Saif Ali Khan, this year on January 31—after “almost a year and a half of trying” at auditions in the Hindi film industry. The film was commercially well-received— doing a business of `20 crores at the domestic box office in the first week—and the actor received rave reviews for her prowess. Sadly, the lockdown followed soon and the world shut shop. But that didn’t daunt our coverstar, we discover in the conversation. In addition to other interesting trivia about her. Like her “insane tolerance” for spicy food. “I don’t find anything spicy enough. Like, I have tried the most unbelievably-spicy things, but I’m yet to find a dish that I can’t take!” she laughs. Or her take on nepotism, the so-far-fool-proof five-year plan she’s chalked for herself, and more...

Cosmo: Tell us about your growing up years...what were you like as a little girl?

Alaya Furniturewala: “I was a highly, highly introverted child. I had massive social anxiety...to the point that till Grade I, not a single person in school had even heard my voice! My parents had to take me to a doctor, and be like, ‘She doesn’t talk!’. At home, I’d be all chirpy, but would go into a shell the moment I stepped out. Gradually, I began opening up...and now, as you can see, I don’t stop talking. But I had a really happy childhood... And even though my parents got divorced when I was very young, I only have great memories. They made sure it was a normal, fun childhood...but with balance. I had freedom, but also discipline. So I could go out, hang with friends, do my thing, as long as there were no complaints and my grades were in check. I was very obedient, anyway. Even now, I’m very strict about following rules, and I’m fairly responsible!”

C: You’ve been brought up in an unconventional set-up, by independent parents. How has that impacted and shaped you?

AF: “I am extremely independent myself, and that’s something that I’ve got from my parents. I share a wonderful relationship with both of them, and they, as individuals, have taught me so much about life, through their own experiences. They have stayed friends, and I’ve seen them help and support each other despite not being together—that’s been a huge influence, too. Also, my mother has never let stereotypes deter her. I’ve learnt to be my own person from her. She’s also been one of my biggest support systems. Even when times weren’t all that great, or things weren’t as smooth as she would have liked for us to believe, she never let us feel anything was amiss. And she always dealt with things with so much kindness and love. So, no matter what’s going on in life, one has to be happy and optimistic. And strong and kind. That’s what I have learnt from her, and that’s how I want to be.”

C: When did you realise you want to be an actor?

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