If Gul Panag does, U2 can…

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The actress is trying to bring the popular band to India for a concert. Will she succeed?
Now, U2 can bring U2 to India — pun intended. Well, Twitter India’s undisputed queen, actress-cum-change agent Gul Panag has initiated a signature campaign to bring the famous band to India for a concert. She got a couple of thousand signatures, bound them in a book and presented it to the U2 management in Toronto, Canada, on July 11, urging them to come to India. “It’s a shot, and it had to be U2 for they’ve been international agents of change,” she says.
“All this effort is to create awareness of SOAP,” she says. SOAP stands for Social Outreach Accreditation Programme started by Panag almost a year back.
“I strongly feel that social equality will be a reality in India only when the privileged help the underprivileged. If things continue in India the way they are, there can be civil unrest like in many African countries,” she says.
Panag has devised a smart model for social work — you may not earn cash for volunteering with her, but you earn credit for sure. “You gain credit points for volunteering, and then the corporates collaborating with us give you extra weightage during job interviews and appraisals,” she says.
Besides being an actor and a model, Panag is a reformer, a rebel, an active voice for social causes, a motivator, an entrepreneur and perhaps more. And it goes way back to before she was crowned Miss India in 1999. The trophies she won for debate and declamation stand testimony to it.
Be it working on female foeticide and other gender issues on her home turf Fatehgarh Sahib in Punjab or signing up for challenging roles — Panag makes sure she stands out in all she does. She even planned and funded her own wedding (her take is: why should parents go through all the emotional, physical and financial burden?) and then rode away on a bullet bike during her bidaai.
Life is short, and she believes in making the most of it. “Ten years down the line, I want to be valued as an individual and not just an actress who gyrated to a sexy item number. May be, that’s why I do what I do,” she says. Quiz her about the turning point in her life, and she says it came seven years ago. “After bagging the Miss India crown, I was neck deep in social work. I decided I’ll go a step ahead and work for a cause while I was young, not when I’m 60,” she says.
Two years ago, when ‘Twitter tsunami’ hit India, she harnessed it to increase her circle of influence. “Not with quantity, but quality. I talk to people, not at them — with hellos and I love you,” she says.
Interestingly, Microsoft has 500 most valuable professionals on board in India and they all follow her on Twitter.
In contrast to her earlier black-and-white webpage, her website gulpanag.net is now flushed in hues of pink. “After marrying Rishi Attari, that’s how I feel these days. I never really wanted to marry glamour — it brings about insecurity and instability,” she explains. She is also looking forward to her next set of adventures — co-producing a film with American documentary-maker Ovidio Salazar, earning a hobby pilot’s license and awaiting her next Bollywood release Fatso.

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