Gul Panag is the only female star in the power-packed, male-dominated cast of Ram Gopal Verma’s Ab Tak Chhappan sequel. The actor who plays a TV reporter, Shaalu Dikshit, is enjoying the challenge of standing up to the ‘boys’.
“It’s a strong, central role. I had loved the earlier film and this script too. It begins exactly where Part 1 was left off, unlike so many of the sequels you see today. So in that sense it is a true sequel,” she says. “And to be offered the only female role in the film allowed me to work with amazingly talented people like Nana Patekar. It was an opportunity not to be missed.”A lot of Ab Tak Chhappan 2, Gul admits, has been inspired by real-life encounter cops, case reports etc, and pieced together
into an interesting script. "I’m a journalist whose father was a crime reporter. I'm researching the book I’m writing and that puts me in a dangerous situation," she explains, admitting she loves to write too and will continue doing so, but doesn’t think she could do only that.
Her role is not modelled on any one person. As Gul points out, there are very few crime journalists who are women. “There was one reporter, Anuja. I like her practical dressing style —jeans and sneakers. That look is true to how a reporter on the crime beat would dress,” she reasons.
Besides the jeans and sneakers, she also wears glasses. “I tried out seven pairs,” she laughs. “Ramu (Ram Gopal Varma)
personally chose this one.”The filmmaker also insisted that she chop her hair really short despite her initial reservations, arguing that the no-nonsense look would add authenticity to her character.
Gul finally succumbed to the pressure. She says, “I've always been questioned about my decision to cut my hair short when the normal trend amongst actors in India is to keep their hair waist length. To chop it even further was radical. But Ramu sir convinced me and I figured he was right. So I did it.”
And what was husband Rishi Attari’s reaction to her short crop? Gul laughs, “He likes it, thank God!” So will she keep it, if it goes with her next role? “I don’t know what my next role is going to be,” she shrugs, “Let’s see!”