Actress Gul Panag, who’s done a TV commercial with Aamir Khan, says that she’d love to do some more of them with the ‘thinking Khan’.
“I’ll certainly do a commercial with Aamir – even if it’s for something like condoms! And on the subject of condoms, people ought to learn to talk about condoms openly,” she says. The idea of a condom commercial is, in part, based on her hope that it’ll send out a message to the Censor Board. “The Censor Board needs to operate in a more rational manner,” she explains. “On one hand, we have population control initiatives, and on the other, the Censor Board chops a scene in Hello for a dialogue that has the word ‘condom’ in it. Isn’t that illogical?”
That’s precisely what this girl is known for – speaking her mind. She says she wouldn’t do an item song if she’s offered one, either. “I don’t like item numbers in the first place, and I don’t know how to dance. Why should I even learn to dance? These latkas and jhatkas may be shortcuts to success, but they aren’t my cup of tea. And most importantly, they don’t go well with my image, which is essentially that of an intellectual,” she says.
Indeed! But Gul’s not just saying it – she’s trying to live up to that image too. The Delhi gal is currently reading Catch 22 which, she says, isn’t a bit reader-friendly. “Every time I start reading the book, I can’t go beyond a few pages.” Is it lack of focus? “No, no. I’m a voracious reader. It’s just that the book is too complex. I thoroughly enjoyed Three Mistakes Of My Life, which I read before this.”
Gul’s next flick, Straight – Ek Tedhi Medhi Love Story, which is set in London, revolves around a male protagonist who’s confused about his sexuality. Would it have been difficult to shoot a movie with a subject like that in Delhi? “I don’t think we would have faced any problem in Delhi. I have seen more men holding hands here than anywhere in India. I’m not saying they’re homosexuals, but this public display of affection isn’t new. Since Straight… isn’t a big budget movie, it might not have attracted too much attention even if we had shot in the city,” she says.
Has she ever seen a gay parade? “I’ve seen it in New York, but didn’t participate in it,” she replies. And the first Delhi gay parade last year? “Was there one in Delhi too? Oh yeah, I remember reading about it somewhere. It’s great that people are ready to treat homosexuality sensibly. I’m sure there’ll be a change in perception on a wider scale,” she says.
The lady is also quite impressed by the Pink Chaddi campaign. “I may not have sent one (a pink chaddi), but I do feel that the campaign has been a success. Otherwise, the situation is pretty bad. The other day, I was at a pub having a drink, and I told my driver that if you sense the slightest sign of trouble outside, tell me and I will jump out of the car and run away. One ought to understand that there’s nothing one can do to combat a mob alone, and so one should be a little careful too.”