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Out of the arc lights

Theatre person Gul Panag makes her celluloid debut through the Hindi film, `Dhoop'.



Sunshine time — Photo: S. Arneja

SHE COMES dressed in a skin tight, brown knee-length glazed outfit, sporting pencil heels, golden shoes, flashes a pearly, dimpled smile, poses for shutterbugs and says, showing her wristwatch, "I am sorry if you had been waiting long. I was told to come at six, and see I am not even a second late." No, she is not. Her debut in Bollywood through Ashwini Chowdhary's "Dhoop" sees her as Bihu, the fiancée of a Kargil martyr. After his death, she becomes the support for his family undergoing emotional turmoil. For those in the modelling or beauty business, acting seems a natural progression. But rest assured, Gul Panag had one more reason to join films - her love for theatre.

She had been involved in it during her school days too. And her theatre days in the United Kingdom after school "brushed her up" a lot. "Theatre enables you to think, sensitises you and helps you look at one thing from different perspectives. Stepping into Bihu's shoes wasn't possible. I always visualised the situations before going in front of the camera." This is where her theatre experience came in handy. But she assures you, "I am completely a director's actress. It's his vision that I try to live on screen, hence if I act well, it's 99.99 per cent his credit rather than mine. Though I try to give inputs between shots, by and large I follow the director's words. When people congratulate me on my acting in the serial Kashmeer, I feel embarrassed because I did what my director told me to, so the entire credit goes to him." Sensible girl, and sincere attitude, that lucidly showed in her behaviour and the film that she has chosen for debut.

"I can't relate to films in which audiences go to watch a girl and only girl. I always wanted to begin with a film that could touch the sensibility of educated minds, a film that I would myself prefer to watch for its value," she reasons clearly. And she has another reason not to sign a run-of-the-mill film for a debut. "Almost all new heroines have done that: come, play second fiddle to the hero, sing, dance and go back. I never wanted to do that." But then singing, dancing and looking ravishing on screen are not of course ruled out.

"Look, being in films and also modelling, I just cannot keep the glamour part away from me. But I definitely wish to establish myself as an actor rather than a star. Many become stars and remain so for long but are never called actors. I would not want to be categorised in that division."

Let's believe her on this count, for she has "rejected many roles as they were not sensitive." And then there is an "important film" that the director has requested her "not to talk about". What is reel life, after all, without that dash of suspense?

RANA SIDDIQUI

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