With claims of bringing to the public a path-breaking film on student politics in the region, the cast of upcoming Punjabi film Sikander believes the June 21 release would actually be a test of the audience’s tastes.
Gul Panag — with her usual verve, charm and dimples intact— visited Hindustan Times office at SAS Nagar on Tuesday along with the male lead, actor Kartar Cheema, producer Poonam Pawar and members of the crew.
A rendezvous with the vivacious and spunky Gul is almost always one that ignites interest. “I have always wanted to do films that bring credibility to me as an actor and as an individual. I don’t want to cringe when I look back at the work that I have done,” she laughs.
With an aspiration to stand out for her work, Gul picks scripts and the rule applied to Sikander as well (previously named Sarsa).
Playing a character called Beant, a strong-willed and idealistic young student, Gul’s voice in Punjabi is like music to ears in her maiden Punjabi venture. But, the start wasn’t as smooth, she tells us. “I was to speak in typical Malwai accent. But, despite being from the Malwa region, people in my village near Fatehgarh Sahib don’t converse in the quintessential Malwai dialect. So I felt lost initially and brushed up my speech. I am happy that I could master my mother tongue better while preparing for my character,” she says.
Sikander, points out Gul, is a realistic film with a small dose of situational comedy. “The film has its soft moments, with characters such as ‘Fancy’ and ‘Bittu Botal’ who add humour. It is entertaining while rendering a strong social message,” says the pretty actor, who previously impressed fans and critics alike with Hindi films such as Dor, Dhoop and Manorama Six Feet Under.
After Gul is done taking examination to complete master’s in political science from Panjab University, which she came back to complete after a gap of eight years, the actor will be working on an Indo-French production about a differently-abled child.
“The director is differently-abled and the recipient of France’s highest civilian award, so she knows better how such people are treated in India. It will be shot in Puducherry,” Gul says.
Actor Kartar Cheema, who plays Sikander in the film, says his character of a student politician is close to his real self. "My character in the film is very close to my real self because I have been a part of student politics in Punjabi University, Patiala.
So, catching the pulse of the character was easy for me. The film deals with black, white and grey characters and I play a grey shade caught between the girl and politics," says Kartar, who has mostly played negative roles in films including Yaar Anmulle (Punjabi) and Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya.Next, he has signed another Punjabi film that goes on the floors very soon.
From Sarsa to Sikander
Sikander was originally named Sarsa, so the name change a few months prior to its release puzzled everyone. Poonam Pawar, the film’s producer, explains the reason for the name change, “We found that most people were interpreting Sarsa as ‘Sirsa’, so we had to explain the meaning of the title and tell them it didn’t deal with the godman of Sirsa. We decided to put a stop to all the speculation and rename it as Sikander — the name of the male lead.”