logo
Get 15% off on your 1st App Order, Use Code: APP15 T&C apply.
Jannat_Zubair_in_Kaaisha_by_Shalini_Ivory_Silk_Zardozi_Embellished_Lehenga_Set

Jannat Zubair

The Age of Influence

“Observe and improve” is the mantra that has led the social media sweetheart to amass 45.6 million followers (that’s just on Instagram!). In conversation with Aza, national heartthrob Jannat Zubair traces her journey from being a camera-shy child actor to becoming a digital force to reckon with.
Photographs by Amit Khanna; Styled by Juhi A. Ali; Makeup by Anu Mariya Jose; Hairstyling by Jennifer Joseph Shnigar; Coordinated by Nadia Malik; Creative Direction by Arthi Medithi; Words by Sreemita Bhattacharya

What does Jannat Zubair have in common with Geet from Jab We Met? No, Jannat isn’t planning to flee her home for the love of her life like the “Sikhni” from Bhatinda. Far from it actually – the actor, who started her career at six, is driven to the core and refuses to get distracted by anything at all. No, Jannat isn’t haunted by fears “jaise koi train chhoot rahi hai” either. A descendant of Lucknow’s royal family, Jannat tells me she has always been brave; which also explains how she finished in fourth place while on stunt-based reality TV show Fear Factor: Khatron Ke Khiladi 12. Well, the Jannat I meet on a slightly chilly (per Mumbai standards) January morning is as self-aware and chirpy as Geet with endearingly similar mannerisms. And during my interview with her, the 21-year-old gleefully asserts, “Main apni favourite hoon!” If her massive fanbase is anything to go by – 45.6 million followers on Instagram, 3.64 million subscribers on YouTube, 1.9 million fans on Facebook and 96.3K on Twitter (the last two social media platforms she doesn’t even keep updated!) – Jannat sabki favourite hai! She’s undoubtedly a national favourite.
Jannat_Zubair_in_Ivory_lehenga_with_multicolor_zardozi_cutdana_sequin_pearl_zari_resham_and_semi_precious_stone_embellishment
Shop the Look
Designer, Kaaisha by Shalini; Neckpiece, Rubans Jewellery; Kada, House of Sparsh; Ring, My Motifs

Fifteen years in the industry

The digital influencer breezes into our Aza studio effortlessly dressed to impress in a chic sleeveless powder blue co-ord set that she has paired with transparent stilettos and white oversized shades. It merits mention here that promptly upon arrival she slips into work mode without much ado. Jannat knows exactly what looks good on her and immediately gets down to business perusing the line-up of outfits and accessories for the day. 2023 is special for Jannat because it marks the 15th year of her career. That’s right – she began working at six, with print shoots. “My dad was the first one to realize my potential as an actor,” Jannat explains while perusing the stunning couture pieces we called in for the shoot. “Would you believe I used to be camera conscious as a kid? And I never went to any acting school. My father taught me how to act. He would motivate me before a shoot so I was less nervous. He taught me how to clearly deliver my lines in front of the camera. So whatever success I’ve achieved in my career, I’d attribute it to my dad. I’m living his dream of becoming an actor.”
quotes-img
I feel blessed for the kind of childhood I had just because I was an actor. I think I enjoyed more than any other child my age during that time because I got to visit and explore so many new places.

So would you agree he’s the biggest influencer in your life, I ask. Jannat promptly replies, “Absolutely. Dad has always been my inspiration, personally as well as professionally. I’m a complete ‘daddy’s girl’. Till date I share a strong bond with my father – as in, years or adulthood haven’t been able to tarnish that. He taught me to dream and have ambitions. He guided me to work towards achieving those dreams and ambitions.”
Jannat_Zubair_in_Shivani_Awasty_Pink_Feather_Embellished_Blouse_Lehenga_Set
Shop the Look
Designer, Shivani Awasty;Ring, earrings & bangle, Rubans Jewellery

Kashi to Phulwa to ‘Jaanu’

While her fans today lovingly refer to her as “jaanu”, not many moons ago, Jannat was either hailed as “Kashi” or “Phulwa”. Jannat was nine when she ventured into television with KashiAb Na Rahe Tera Kagaz Kora and shortly thereafter, she played the protagonist in Phulwa, garnering immediate fame. Jannat has finalized the six outfits she will sport during our shoot today when I urge her to briefly summarize her experiences so far in industry. “My journey from Kashi to Khatron Ke Khiladi has been amazing. I feel blessed for the kind of childhood I had just because I was an actor. I think I enjoyed more than any other child my age at that time because I got to visit and explore so many new places. I met all kinds of people on the sets and off it. I was a teenager when I took on the role of the female lead in the show Tu Aashiqui, but my audience loved me as Pankti Sharma. Looking back, I have faced everything from success to rejection. I feel it’s a culmination of these reasons that I have matured so much as an individual. My experiences have made me a thorough professional, which I’m sure will help in my career going forth.”
quotes-img
Today I understand that not every content I post online will start trending. I know my followers won’t keep increasing at the same rate with each post. I’m more aware today and I’m prepared.

The sabbatical from TV

It was while Jannat was taking a break from television that she realized the reach of social media and started creating short video content for TikTok, then known as Musical.ly. She had amassed over 25 million followers when the Indian government banned TikTok in 2020 over “national security issues”. Significantly, Jannat was one of the first digital influencers to publicly support the government move to boycott TikTok. Shortly after began her success story on Instagram as a content creator. In 2021, Jannat made it to the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list in the Media, Marketing and Advertising category. I ask Jannat about her approach now when it comes to digital content creation. Between sips of a large mug of vanilla sweet cream cold brew she shares, “I don’t follow a process as such. Sometimes I create content on topics I can relate to, and at other times I may do a reel on a soundtrack I like or a fun trend. It has been an organic learning process for me. Initially I made short videos because it was exciting, and the scope for creativity was huge. Over the years, I have only tried to improve and diversify my content – observing what works best with my audience. So, I’d say my approach has been ‘observe and improve’. Today I understand that not every content I post online will start trending. I know my followers won’t keep increasing at the same rate with each post. I’m more aware today and I’m prepared.” With that, Jannat – looking breathtaking in a pink Ariyana Couture mirror embroidered lehenga – walks down to the flower adorned set we designed in keeping with the romantic vibe of February.
Jannat_Zubair_in_Ariyana_Couture_Peach_Mirror_Embroidered_Lehenga_Set
Shop the Look
Designer, Ariyana Couture;Maangtikka & neckpiece, Rubans Jewellery;Ring, My Motifs

Jannat, the influencer

Did you know the 21-year-old – who recently bagged the Creators United Awards 2023 ‘Lifestyle Creator of the Year’ title – is offering a digital course on ‘social media influencing’ on an ed-tech platform? Jannat looks shy as she shares, “Yes, that’s true. I’m offering tips and tricks to succeed in the digital space. The way I see it, people don’t need to rely on ‘bagging opportunities’ anymore – they can go ahead and create opportunities for themselves. What I’m teaching in that course is how to build and maintain your social media following.”
quotes-img
Singing is a passion and I’d love to do it more professionally. But I also want to do so many other things! I wish to become an entrepreneur too, maybe do something in the space of beauty or clothes because I’m a girly girl. I love dressing up.

The Jill of many trades

Never one to tread along the done-and-dusted path, Jannat made her singing debut at the age of 18 with the single, Ishq Farzi. The song that released in 2019 has over 49 million views on YouTube as of February 2023. Between shots, we find Jannat quietly humming to the soundtracks blasting from the speakers in the studio. On being asked about her musical aspirations, with a chuckle she says, “Singing is a passion and I’d love to do it more professionally. But I also want to do so many other things! Last year I made my debut as a lead actor in the Punjabi movie Kulche Chole. I loved the filming experience. Someday, I wish to become an entrepreneur too, maybe do something in the space of beauty or clothes because I’m a girly girl. I love dressing up. So, God willing…”
Jannat_Zubair_in_Paulmi_and_Harsh_Orange_Georgette_Jungle_Print_Pre-draped_Saree_With_Blouse
Shop the Look
Designer, Paulmi and Harsh;Earrings & bangle, House of Sparsh;Ring, My Motif

But then “influencer” or “actor” – which role do you enjoy the most, I ask Jannat, who looks like a vision in a Paulmi and Harsh pre-draped saree. After reviewing her images in the third look of the day, Jannat explains, “Both roles are dear to me. But personally, I'm more passionate about acting because my journey started off as an actor. However, let me tell you, no matter how many years I’ve spent in this industry, I still feel jittery about facing the camera – be it for a photoshoot or an interview or a show or a reel.”
quotes-img
Only talent and passion can help an individual thrive in cinema. But I think movies offer a fair chance to digital content creators like me to further explore and develop our talent.

The ‘baby shark’

While on the topic of jitters, did she feel any while shooting for Khatron Ke Khiladi 12? Interestingly, Rohit Shetty gave Jannat the moniker “baby shark” during the shoot because she dared herself to do the toughest stunts despite her petite size and age. In her interviews following the reality show’s end, Jannat had mentioned she used to receive “extra special treatment” as the youngest contestant. With a chuckle she tells me, “Yes, it’s true and I took full advantage of the fact that I was the youngest person around. I could get away with most things.” Although she doesn’t specify what that special treatment entailed, she continues, “KKK 12 has given me some great friends. Shivangi Joshi and I hit it off from the get-go and we have been thick as thieves since. Rohit (Shetty) sir was an exceptional mentor. He constantly motivated me to deliver my best.”
Jannat_Zubair_in_Buy_Chamme_and_Palak_Blue_Organza_Lilies_Of_All_Kinds_Lehenga_And_Blouse_Set
Shop the Look
Designer, Chamme & Palak;Earcuffs, ring & kada, House of Sparsh

Celluloid dreams

Having worked in Bollywood films like Luv Ka The End and Hitchki as a child actor, Jannat is close to stars like Shraddha Kapoor and Mouni Roy. Incidentally, just like Jannat, several digital content creators like Prajakta Koli, Carry Minati and Beyounick have ventured into cinema in recent times. Do you feel movies are the logical progression for digital content creators, I ask the actor post lunch. She muses for a bit while fiddling with one of the cute tassels on the Payal Singhal lehenga she’s wearing before she says, “It totally depends on a person’s vision for their future. Only talent and passion can help an individual thrive in cinema. But yes, I think movies offer a fair chance to digital content creators like me to further explore and develop our talent.”
quotes-img
Instead of trolls, I choose to prioritize the people sending love and positivity my way because, at the end of the day, it’s because of them that I will persist and move ahead in life. As for film critics, I value their opinions because they outline my areas of improvement.

But then, before Kulche Chole you only had to deal with trolls. Now you need to take negative or positive feedback from film critics too, I point out. Jannat shows a lot of maturity as she says, “Trolls are hurtful, yes. But I choose to focus on the ardent followers I have who fight back my trolls for me. I choose to prioritize the people sending love and positivity my way because, at the end of the day, it’s because of them that I will persist and move ahead in life. As for film critics, I value their opinion because they outline my areas of improvement.” A director’s actor, Jannat thrives on instructions from our photographer throughout our shoot.
Jannat_Zubair_in_Buy_Payal_Singhal_Grey_Georgette_Mahira_Embroidered_Lehenga_Set
Shop the Look
Designer, Payal Singhal;Ring, earrings & kadas, My Motifs

The sibling story

On the personal front, when she’s not shooting, Jannat spends a lot of quality time with her parents and brother, Ayaan (also a young influencer with 2.7 million followers on Instagram). The siblings share a strong bond which is well documented for their fans on social media. As the shoot nears its end, I ask Jannat if the hilarious reels with Ayaan are inspired by true events. With a giggle she says, “Those are inspired by relatable events from our lives. Ayaan is my partner in crime, but he’s often left multitasking – holding my purse and shopping bags or other articles while I pose for photos that he only clicks! Then together we select the music for my content before I post them online. So, Ayaan also plays a key role in my success.” The digital sensation adds that she takes life by the horns, no matter what she is faced with. But does the transience of fame scare her? “I believe anything done with pure intentions pays off, so I try my best,” Jannat signs off, flashing her trademark smile.

Get Insider Access

Follow us:

What's new on Aza Avenue?

Discover the latest trends on Aza's fashion blog

aza-avenue-1

Fun, Memorable & Above All – Presenting Glamorous Bride in Aza Magazine...

aza-avenue-2

Exclusive Interview With Seema Gujral On Bridal Trends...

aza-avenue-3

9 Puff Sleeve Designs to Mark the Trend’s Timely Revival...

image

Paulmi And Harsh: Meet the Artistic Mind Behind the Brand...