We have a very special person interviewed for you this week. She is a beauty with a brain and fascinated by Web and Social Media. One of the few actors from the world of Indian Cinema who blogs regularly and has one of the largest following on twitter. You can also find her exploring new places and off-roading regularly. We enter the Gulspace to get an all exclusive interview with Gul Panag. For the first time, we have an interview as a podcast so that you can hear the answers in the lovely voice of Gul. Get ready to enter into Gul Space.
The first question would be, when and why did you start blogging and tweeting?
Well, I started blogging.. I think around two years back with my website, I have a blog called GulSpace. I wanted to write about stuff that I felt about, I wanted to write things that were close to me. Well… the whole idea of blogging is to speak anything you feel like, and the important thing for me is to not discuss Bollywood, because there are a hundred people out there who expect you to only talk about Bollywood and that was the last thing that I ever wanted to write about and that’s something for me that’s actually a policy on my personal blog GulSpace and on Twitter also. I don’t encourage talk about Bollywood. To be very honest, if somebody asks me..well on an average I get least fifteen tweets a day, if not more, asking me what’s my latest film and my answer is to direct them to the URL of my website. I’m not on Twitter because I have a film that has just released or my film is releasing next week and I want to try and gain..like 5000 extra tickets.
Q. So is it more of a personal thing
No..I mean ..I enjoy the medium. I have always been very fascinated by the social media and the web, and for me I’m just tweeting like any other human being. Yes I do understand that my reach is quite a bit with 14,000 plus followers (18,000+ now), I understand my reach that is why I use it to express my opinions on key issues, sometimes it’s a political issue, sometimes it’s a social issue, sometimes it could be a technology comment. I do that because I am aware of my reach but having said that, I do try to speak about things that are relevant to me and I think they are also relevant to people that are the decision makers of our society, which is the youth, and by the youth I don’t mean 20 year old’s but anyone who is between 18 to 40 years old, because India has the highest young population in the world.
So, I’m stretching the definition here by calling them young people. These young people of India are actually the decision makers and I think that if one sees the profile of the average tweeter he is a young person, according to demographic profile of India. I think that is my real reason and as I said that I’m not interested in talking about the medium, okay fine.. I have been in the medium since quite long now I might say that a film of mine is releasing this Friday but that is not the reason for which I am on twitter.
I started blogging and twitter was introduced to me by my web managers who insisted that since you are so active and interested in connecting with people why don’t we put a RSS feed of your twitter account on the website homepage, so my website is gulpanag.net and if you see it you will find that it has an RSS feed from twitter which puts you on the website. I came on to Twitter somewhere around March, and I am really enjoying it it. To be honest, I never knew that this could be a two way medium, I never knew the power of twitter and I didn’t understand much about it. And then I was very keen after which I was given a tutorial by @twilightfairy, @rahulvarshneya, @nithinkd & @nitinsgr.
In fact it was @nithinkd who I was really intrigued by when I first read his tweet. He was travelling somewhere in Kerala and I was really interested by the way he was giving a minute by minute account of what he was doing, right from taking the bus, the decor, I think he was coming back from a funeral which was very sad, he almost missed a flight. I mean, there is so much you can say, it was just so interesting as if you are reading a novel. He was on his way to catch a bus or I think a train from Kochi after which he was to take a flight..and he said..O My God ! I’m getting late.. I mean you could literally feel the excitement of it. I have known him since so long now and what I found interesting was the way Nithin was completely cataloging his journey and Twitter gives you that freedom. If you can tweet atleast three times a day, I mean if you are seeing and observing things, you just Tweet that, I think that’s TWITTER.
Q. Do you ever get stuck while writing an entry, what do you do then?
Ha..to be honest, I do not write, because many times I may be absent, because when I don’t have anything to say, obviously I don’t have anything to say, for me an entry is about answering the classical Twitter question and if I don’t have an answer to that, I just don’t or sometimes I maybe too busy to tweet, its fine. I mean I don’t want to force myself to write to be one of the top five tweeters of the day, I have been there, done that, It’s not something that makes a big difference for me, but ya..if we all start talking about an issue that has an impact and becomes a top tweeter of the day..that’s great ! But its so been there, done that, as I said, many a times I just don’t have the time to tweet and I also feel that socially it is bad manners to tweet beyond a certain point, because if I open my twitter, I have a habit of reading every single tweet.. I just cannot read five entries and then just logout.
I think its social bad manners to be in company and be on twitter at the same time. The chances are that if I’m very busy or in company, I may just not tweet as one of my friends recently told me – ‘that you either go out or you tweet’, so I am increasingly becoming this person who tweets when I’m alone or when I am driving, and there are people who ask pretty dumb questions on Twitter like do you tweet while you are driving? Well of course not! because I am not driving but being driven by someone else and I’m fortunate enough to have that comfort and luxury, so that’s it, I tweet while I’m traveling in the car or when I’m alone or when I feel upset about something, my twittering is very sporadic, it is not an answer to anything, or else that would bring me to the orkutification twitter, there will be someone saying that Hi.. I’m Mr. X, please reply, and with the increasing number of followers it does become difficult to answer every tweet especially the senseless ones, but I guess that its all part and parcel of the game. I love to interact, but I do not see it as a medium of chatting that people have made it out to be.
Q. How important is it for the blogger to interact with the readers, do you respond to all the comments that you receive ?
Well, I think first and foremost you have to be a little objective and understand that you have to be prepared for all kinds of feedback when you put yourself out there. There are not going to be always roses, there may be the brickbats and the freak shows too and you have to learn to take it with a slice of lemon and salt, because it may not always turn out the way you may have imagined it to be..that’s what I feel.
Q. Gul Panag on Twitter made many people realize that celebrities too lead a normal life, has anything changed after getting active on twitter?
Yes we do, but somewhere there seems to be this larger than life picture about us that people construct in their minds, which is forced by fuel that media writes, so you get this different kind of aura about these people, but we are just normal people. I love to go out, watch movies, get drunk..well everything that normal people do.
Q. An actress recently commented that actresses who use the internet and tweet have plenty of spare time on hand, do you agree with that?
I completely disagree to that. I am not on the internet because I have spare time but because I feel that I can be on the internet and do something meaningful even while doing other things. I am in my car, going for shoot or a meeting from my home, I have one whole hour to kill. You can use that time chatting and gossiping with someone on the phone or you can use that time constructively and blog. So, I think the person in question here has received enough flak, so let’s not take this further.
Q. Why are celebrities still shying away from using the online medium to communicate?
Well, I think a lot of people..I can only talk about myself, but many people have spent so such time in creating an aura and making themselves enigmatic and mysterious, and it’s not that they don’t have dates to accommodate, its maybe they don’t want to deconstruct that image. They may be feeling that if they start doing this all that may just fall apart, so I don’t think that they are ready for it.
Q. Bollywood is evolving with some really good offbeat movies. In this scenario what kind of roles does an actress expect and how could they evolve themselves?
Well.. first of all I think its important to know which direction you are heading in. You can’t want to be a Priyanka Chopra by taking path of a Konkona Sen. Its very important for you to know yourself that in which way are you heading ! A lot of people think that they will do some small offbeat films till their moment in the sun arrives and then finally they will make it to the lead in some milestone film, simply because its on a larger scale and canvas, I think it’s important that you do what you are really happy to do, and the rest just follows and regarding how would you evolve for each role.. I think that’s essentially the job of an actor, its like asking a doctor – “How do you heal a patient?” there is an element of knowledge, there is an element of gut instinct, there is an element of prognosis that goes on, its just a way a doctor tries to treat a patient, I know its not the best analogy to give, but I’m just trying to give you a cut and dry explanation of it.
With this answer, we conclude the first part of this amazing interview. To keep your anticipated attention, we have one more exciting part of this wonderful interview with Gul Panag coming up soon. To read more interviews with bloggers like Meetu, Twilightfairy, Kunal Sheth, Preeti Shenoy, Indyeah, Indian Homemaker and Hitchwriter, do visit the interviews section. Also to know more about what’s happening at BlogAdda, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
Thank you Gul for taking out time for this interview. We are sure the readers will enjoy it as much as we did talking to you. Friends, do listen to the podcast if you haven’t as yet and soon, we will have the second part of the interview put up. Follow Gul Panag on twitter
and you too can converse with her.