maintained a keen interest in sport and public speaking – Gul Panag
Gul was born in Chandigarh, into a 2nd generation armed forces family. She had the fortune of traveling all over the country due to her father’s frequent transfers. By the end of her schooling she had changed 14 schools! Among many Kendriya Vidyalaya’s, The Lawrence School Lovedale, she also studied in Lusaka, Zambia at the International School. She is an alumnus of the Government College for Girls, Patiala, where she pursued a BA in Mathematics and went on to do a Masters in Political Science from Punjab University Chandigarh.
Gul always maintained a keen interest in sport and public speaking. She’s won many state and national level debating competitions, including gold medals twice, at the Annual National Inter University Debate.
Entering the Miss India Pageant was a mere extension of her multi talented personality. It came as no surprise when she was crowned Miss India Universe in 1999, still only in her teens. Adamant about finishing her BA degree, she took time off in her reign year to do the same.
The journey since then has been eventful and rewarding. She did a bit modeling, a few TV shows including the critically acclaimed series Kashmeer, before graduating to film with the superbly received Dhoop , her award winning portrayal of Zeenat in Nagesh Kukunoor’s Dor and most recently her highly acclaimed work in Manorama Six Feet Under. Gul is currently finishing work on Hello (directed by Atul Agnihotri, based on Chetan Bahagat’s Bestselling novel, One Night @ the Call Centre) and Suhail Tatari’s Summer of 2007. She will now start work on Mukta Arts’s Hello Darling.
I am glad I took to Bollywood after my Miss India-Universe title. I have earned a certain degree of respect that comes with being a competent actress, I have five films that will be released this year, and five on the floor. Besides, it’s the best time to be in Bollywood, scripts rule and which means directors don’t just cast any girl who’s available, they look for an actress who is suited to play a particular character.
I am my kind of a person. I believe that by definition I am different. It’s a good thing to be. Which means I am unique; I am irreplaceable. Of course that has its own set of challenges but what is life without that!
On her strengths as an actress
I would like to say that I am very versatile and competent. I am capable of playing anything. I am also very good at action; I have trained for years in Taekwondo and kickboxing. Fitness has been a part of my life since I was very young and there’s simply nothing that I can’t do.
I can look good in a traditional outfit and a bikini too…Well, that comes from my upbringing and because my father was in the army, I lived in different parts of India. I can say that safely, that I wouldn’t be half as good if I didn’t have the kind of upbringing that I did.
On her role in Dor
Every actor has in their repertoire, a film that turned the tables. It doesn’t mean the actor was bad before or better after. It simply means that a film was able to showcase you in a particular manner. Like Bipasha can credit Jism for bringing around a change in her careerI can do so with Dor but I believe that Dhoop was my best work till date.
On her future plans
I want to keep being versatile and do challenging work. I don’t want to be associated with brooding roles. In fact, the worst thing for an actor is to be stereotyped. I also want to keep travelling. It’s a passion and it gives me an adrenaline rush to discover new places on this planet,” says Gul who goes camping with a tent as often as she can. “I have been doing that since I was seven!.