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‘I could be dating an actor, a pilot or an astrophysicist'

Actress Gul Panag, who will be seen in Summer of 2007 with Sikander Kher, talks men and movies with Roshmila Bhattacharya.
By Roshmila Bhattacharya | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUN 12, 2008 11:43 AM IST

What was the turning point for you in your career?
Professionally it was Dor. I'd won acclaim for my first film Dhoop but Dor was the film that changed the course of my career.

But you didn't cash in on its success.
For an actress, it is difficult to find another part like Dor. But I've been busy, shooting non-stop for the last year-and-a-half. I'll have five releases this year. All of them are so different in look and content that you will go, "Wow, wow, wow!"
It would have been easy for me to stay in the Dor mould, but I wanted to crack other markets. Unless you take risks there are no returns. Most mainstream actresses would choose to experiment with a film like Dhoop after making a mark in commercial films. But I chose to do it four years ago, when cinema was just starting to change.

I like being a part of issue-based films like Summer of 2007 which hopefully will make people think. Change happens when people start reflecting on the world around them.

Seems Summer of 2007 is about a journey which changes lives..
(Smiles) Well, this is a film very close to my heart since it's with Suhail Tatari, my first director (Kashmeer) and oldest friend in Bombay. I play Vishakha, an idealist and the champion of underdogs.

I won't say she's me because before a shoot, I always leave myself back home. A large part of the film was shot in a remote village. I come from a gaon myself. Our village didn't have electricity and roads till some years ago.

What else? It also features your former boyfriend Sikander Kher and at the wrap party the two of you got really cozy. Is a reunion on the cards?
Why only Sikander? I got along famously with Yuvika, Alekh (Sangal) and Anjan (Bajwa) too. The film is about five best friends, a story of camaraderie and change. And the bonding had to be there, off-screen too.

But won't fans expect Sikander and you to be a couple and come away disappointed when they find him romancing Uvika Chowdhary?
Uvika is opposite Sikander but their love story is incidental and not central to the plot. The end will be a surprise.

How did you find Sikander in Woodstock Villa?
When you're from a film family, people expect you to be a good actor. But I was surprised to discover on the first day of shooting that Sikander is really good. In Woodstock Villa he was the grungy Marlboro man. You'll see him in a different avatar in Summer of 2007.

The buzz is that after you broke off with Sikander you've been dating a pilot.
I could be dating an actor, a pilot or an astrophysicist but I wouldn't want to talk about him. It's not fair to the other person. And it also takes away from the work I'm doing.

I'm here to make a career, I plan to be around for the next 25-30 years. And I'd rather people talked about my performance than whom I'm seeing or not seeing.

So talk about Priyanka, the glam gal who sizzles in Hello.
Priyanka is a call center executive who has money and blows it on herself. You meet girls like her everyday. She intrigued me when I read Chetan Bhagat's novel, One Night at the Call Centre.

So when Atul (Agnihotri) called to offer me the role of Radhika I told him I'd rather play Priyanka. It took him just five seconds to give me the role. I've done lovemaking scenes before, it's part of the job.

How much has the film changed from the novel?
On a scale of 1-10 I'd put it at 8.5, which makes the modifications slight. The screenplay was jointly written by Atul and Chetan.

After Hello it's Hello Darling..
(Cuts in) No, it's Straight, a crooked love story with Vinay Pathak. It's a situational comedy about a man confused about his sexuality. Hello is a more conventional comedy, fully commercial.

Apparently, Isha Koppikar's been giving you a lot of grief with her late-comings?
Says who? Isha is a nice girl, a pro. Unfortunately, she was shooting for Hello Darling and Ek Aur Vivah. She had to be on the Rajshri sets at 7 am and had told us she could only shoot till 10 pm but usually ended up working till past midnight.

We had two days of work left and she herself called the director to offer her dates. Isha's been a victim of media misinformation.

Tell us about your anubhav with Anubhav..
Great, we shot in Cochin. Rajeevnath is a National Award winning director. The film is doing the rounds of the festival circuit currently.

Will we see you on TV again?
Why not? It's a great medium. Four weeks on prime time and you're a superstar. Recently, when wandering around a mall in Lucknow I was approached by fans wondering if I was the same Kashmeer girl.

But I can't see myself doing a daily soap. May be if it's a real time series like 24 with the option of returning in the next season, I'd consider. But till then, my movies have me running.

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