Born on September 26, 1962, Chunky Panday's real name is Suyash Pandey. "People think my name is Chandrakant or Chandratma, from which I have shortened it to Chunky. However, my real name is Suyash Pandey," said the actor, who was called Suyash only by his school friends. The name, Suyash, was given to Chunky by his grandfather; but because the actor was a chubby kid, Chunky became his nickname.
However, he prefers to be called Chunky. "It is unfortunate that your name and nickname, which stay with you all through your lifetime, are not chosen by you! Between Suyash and Chunky, I prefer Chunky. When Pahlaj Nihalani was launching me with Aag Hi Aag in 1987, he had launched Govinda the year before and he also wanted to give me a name from the Ramayana or Mahabharata. But I felt that it wouldn't suit me because my face is modern. Pahlaj didn't even know the meaning of Chunky but his kids freaked out on the name as it was easy to pronounce. Luckily, I got to retain my nickname," recalled Panday to mid-day in an interview in 2009.
In picture: A picture from Chunky Panday's childhood days with his parents, grandparents and sibling.
Chunky Panday's father Sharad Panday was a renowned heart surgeon. He was part of the team of surgeons who performed the first-ever heart transplant in India at the King Edward Memorial Hospital and Seth Gordhandas Sunderdas Medical College in Mumbai. Chunky's mother Snehlata Panday was a physician by profession. "I wanted to become a doctor. I couldn't become one. My father was a renowned heart surgeon and my mother was doctor. I must confess that I tried. And I just couldn’t succeed. Then I became an actor," said Chunky.
In picture: (L to R) Chunky's brother Aloke Sharad Panday aka Chikki Panday, his kids - Ahaan and Allana, wife Deanne Pandey, Chunky's wife Bhavana Pandey, Chunky, his mother Dr Snehalata Panday, Ananya Panday (in pink frock) and Dr Sharad Panday.
Another lesser-known fact about Chunky Panday is that the actor has a huge interest in the constellations. "If I wasn't an actor I would definitely be an astronaut. I was very curious as a child. In fact, I even believed that I didn't belong to planet Earth. The Milky Way, the planets and their orbits fascinate me no end. I often dragged my parents to the planetarium and would often go stargazing in the nights," said Chunky.
In picture: Chunky Panday shared this picture on Instagram and wrote alongside, "My Mahurat for Aag Hi Aag 1987. First Film. First day. First shot."
Well, Chunky Panday is a good baker too! He can bake delicious cakes. "I need a recipe book but I am a baker. In my childhood, I would bake. I would have become a baker if not an actor," said Chunky to mid-day.
In picture: A still from the movie Vishwatma (1992).
One more fact about Chunky Panday that you probably may not know is that the actor is an avid swimmer. On days when he is not shooting, he swims for over an hour each day. No wonder that at age 58 the actor looks so fit. "I swim about a kilometre and a half everyday and if I get the chance I try and cycle. I walk a lot," said Chunky.
In picture: A still from the movie Aankhen (1993).
Do you know why Chunky Panday avoids wearing shoes? Well, the actor had confessed once that he can't tie or untie his laces! "So, I avoid wearing sneakers or boots too often, as it's embarrassing to get my laces done by others. I have a few pointed toe shoes in my closet. But I simply love flip flops as they come in a variety of colours (laughs out loud)," said the actor.
In picture: Chunky Panday posted this picture from his first ad in the 90s.
Chunky Panday has had a unique dressing style. The actor, who used to often be seen in bright Hawaiian shirts or bold printed jackets, has always had an adventurous sense of fashion. "I like to wear colours that reflect my mood. So, it's no wonder that you'll mostly see me in bright shades as I am a very optimistic person. In fact, I never liked wearing muted colours. There are a lot of reds, blues, oranges, greens in my wardrobe. My name is always associated with psychedelic colours like hot pink, orange and fluorescent green," said Chunky Panday cheekily.
In picture: Chunky Panday with the cast and crew of the film Housefull. His role of Aakhri Pasta in the Housefull series won him new generation fans in the 2010s. "Mama Mia! I am just a-joking" was his popular dialogue from the franchise.
However, his wife Bhavana Pandey sooner or later managed to tone down his dressing sense considerably. "She's got me wearing olive, beige, browns and earthy shades at public dos. Thanks to her, I don't get critics anymore," concluded Chunky.
In picture: Chunky Panday with wife Bhavana.
Did you know Chunky Panday was Akshay Kumar's acting instructor, nearly three decades ago? "The place where Chunky Panday sahab used to learn acting, he used to be my senior there. When I used to go there as a junior, we used to look up to him and we used to wait for the moment when he would come. His film 'Aag Hi Aag' (1987) had released, which was a super-duper hit. I used to be a huge fan of Chunky Panday," Akshay Kumar had revealed this fact during a promotional event of Housefull 3.
Talking about his film career, Chunky Panday was one of the top heroes of late '80s and early '90s. However, a sudden dip in his Bollywood career hit Chunky Panday hard.
In picture: Chunky with daughter actress Ananya Panday.
After cementing his position in Bollywood with films like Tezaab, Aag Hi Aag and Aankhen, Chunky stopped getting work and then moved to star in Bangladeshi films for a few years, only to return with memorable roles in the Housefull series, Begum Jaan, Saaho. Filmmakers Harry Baweja, Subhash Ghai and Sajid Nadiadwala helped him restart his career in Hindi cinema.
"In 1993 after giving a blockbuster 'Aankhen', I had no work. I was sitting at home for a year. I only had one film titled 'Teesra Kaun?'. That's when I got the opportunity to work in Bangladesh and my first film was a super hit. I worked there for three-four years. After marriage, my wife told me, 'Bollywood is my actual identity'. When I came back to Hindi cinema, I realised a generation had forgotten me completely. I had to start struggling. I would meet people, ask for work and luckily I got it," Chunky told PTI in an interview.
Did you know Chunky Panday became a superstar in Bangladesh in the nineties, having delivered more than 10 hits there?
On the personal front, Chunky Panday got married to Bhavana Khosla in January 1998 and the couple became parents in October 1998. They were blessed with a baby girl, whom they named Ananya. "Ananya is literally a honeymoon baby. We were married in January 1998, and she was born in October. People were actually calculating if I conceived her before or after marriage. We still had to discover each other and then we had this beautiful baby. She has been with us from our first anniversary," Bhavana Pandey had once told in an interview.
Chunky Panday and Bhavana welcomed their second child - daughter Rysa in 2005. While Chunky's elder daughter has already made a name in Bollywood, Rysa is still studying in school.