Say HELLO to Gul!

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Given her background of being a former beauty queen and a model, one would expect her to stick to glamorous roles when it comes to films but she begs to differ! Gul Panag tells Renuka Vyavahare that she has no regrets for having taken the road less travelled by opting for significant but off-beat roles! Here she speaks all about her film Hello and her strong bonding with Salman’s family…

You play the central character along with Sharman Joshi in Hello.
Hello is based on Chetan Bhagat’s novel ‘One Night at a call centre’ and I was initially offered the role of Radhika by Atul but I wanted to play Priyanka. The role of Radhika didn’t excite me enough and I was eventually offered the part of Priyanka. Priyanka and Shyam (Sharman) are the lead characters as Shyam is the protagonist of the novel. I had read the book twice before meeting Atul and I knew I wanted to be Priyanka.

Why insist on playing Priyanka?
Priyanka is any normal Indian girl who wants a secure future! Her boyfriend Shyam earns 25 grants a month which is insufficient for her. She doesn’t mind dating him but wishes to get married to a man who earns in dollars and is a rich NRI! Today every urban girl thinks in this manner! I have friends who don’t mind dating men they like but for marriage they look for financial security. Priyanka epitomises these women… besides, I have always played strong roles in my previous films…be it Dor, Summer of 2007 or even Manorama Six Feet Under.

The book received mixed reactions from readers worldwide and few thought the book misrepresented the call centre culture?
The film sticks to the book completely and I think the book too is extremely contemporary and identifiable. If two people working in a call centre want to get married early in their life who are we to stop them! The youth will completely identify with the film.

Films adapted from famous books seldom do well. Comment.
Chetan and I have sat together and made sure that Priyanka’s character is authentic in the film. Also, there have been adaptations that have done equally well like the books they were based on. The Bridget Jones’ Diary, Bourne Identity series, Jurassic Park series… all have been as captivating on screen as they were on paper.

How was it working with the Khans?
The film has been directed by Atul Agnihotri, his wife Alvira has done a splendid job at designing our clothes. Amrita happens to be Malaika’s sister so she too is a family of Atul’s and Sohail is Atul’s brother-in-law! Not for a single moment they made me feel left out! Sohail would offer me his seat if he’d find me standing! Salimsaab would join us and guide us on the sets. Once I complimented Alvira’s bag and to my surprise she gifted it to me immediately… it was a Prada bag, which I got to know later on! The Khans are the most generous, large hearted people I have ever met! I’d love to work with them again and again… Amrita and I got along like a house on fire!

Will Salman and Katrina’s presence give that necessary edge to the film?
Salman plays the writer and Katrina plays the angel in the film. The film is extremely commercial and will definitely appeal to youngsters.

How was it working with them?
I have not shared the screen space with them and I have this tendency of keeping distance with the people I don’t know.

Many thought you were a part of Khatron Ke Khiladi!
I am adventurous in real life but I don’t want to make a spectacle of myself on tv. No reality tv for me!

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