Powerhouse performer, cross-over cinema’s darling and former beauty queen Gul Panag looked every inch the headturner she is in a black evening dress, accessorised with tan stilettoes, her hair styled in a fashionable bob with bangs and light pink lipstick.
In town for a promotional bash, Gul was the picture of the ultimate professional. In between a quick lunch and a hectic photo-session, she had just enough time for a quick-fire round with Hyderabad Times before she flew back to Mumbai.
Her radiant smile reached her eyes as she patiently signed autographs and indulged the lensmen. Gul says 2009 will be a very “busy year” for her with projects like Straight, Hello Darling, Ek Rectangular Love Story, Anubhav, Phir Zindagi, a film with Prakash Jha productions and Ram Gopal Varma’s Rann.
While on Rann, we prod her gently about the national anthem controversy the film’s generated already and she puts it cautiously, “Well, I’d not like to comment on the controversy. But Rann is going to be a very interesting film to watch. The promos are out already and you can see the impact they are making. This will probably be one of the most powerful movies of the year. I’ve had good memories of my first day at work for the film. For someone like me who’s done several films, being directed by Ram Gopal Varma was very special. RGV is extremely talented. It was an honour working with him and am looking forward to doing more work with him.”
A mathematics graduate from the University of Punjab, Gul’s tryst with glamour and glory is the stuff fairy-tales are made of. The Femina Miss India Universe 1999, who played a key role in the popular TV show, Kashmir has had an impressive stint in Bollywood and been associated with meaningful films and insists she’s always keen on “meaningful roles” . Gul’s hardly done her song-dance routine in Bollywood potboilers and has been part of off-beat films. Has that been a deliberate decision on her part?
And she surprises us when she admits that it, “has been a conscious effort. I don’t want to do the same type of roles. I would be commiting professional suicide by doing things I’m not comfortable with. I am not going to fit into any specific stereotype.” Unlike her counterparts in mainstream Bollywood who loathe changing their hairstyle or look, Gul has experimented with her look with almost every film she’s done. “Once again, this is in sync with the experimentation that I do with my roles. I try to look the character I play in a film. For me it is also a way to reinvent myself with every film I do.”
A fitness freak, Gul never skips her daily workout regimen. “My fitness mantra is very simple. I dance or swim for 30-45 minutes a day. But during that time I work out regularly and have extremely high fitness and endurance levels. I also run the 21-km marathon every year. Being fit is the key to being in great shape, so vital in our profession.
Does marriage figure at all in her scheme of things at this point? The dimpled star flashes her 1,000 megawatt smile and says, “marriage” will have to wait and there are no “plans either” in the immediate future.
So, relax guys, there’s hope yet!