Gul Panag | Panag who was last seen in the film Bypass Road, speaks with Musba Hashmi about what made her take up The Family Man, experience of working with Manoj Bajpayee, her fitness regime and how she time manages everything
You were seen in The Family Man. What made you say yes?
The fact that I have been wanting to play an armed forces character for a long time is one big reason. I come from an armed forced background and Saloni’s character is the one that has come most naturally to me and more effortlessly as well. The mechanism, body language and the attitude is something that I have subconsciously imbibed for many years. The second reason was when I met Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK (the directors), I enjoyed the fact that we share a similar viewpoint. It is great to work with such people.
How was the experience working with Manoj Bajpayee?
Manoj is one of the most powerful and talented actors that we have today. It was an honour to work with him. I have known him for a long time but have never worked with him before. It was interesting to see him interpret the dynamics of both his and my character. I have played the role of his commanding officer which is a difficult place for any Indian male to be in, in the armed forces. And Manoj brought out an interesting angle to the character. The fact that he had a female boss made him uncomfortable. So he subtly flirted with me in a respectful manner. That’s what something that Manoj devised. I thought that it is interesting that he complied two pre-existing complexities in a relationship conflict to make it one. That was interesting.
Also I have said this multiple times with regards to Manoj that acting is all about reacting. If you have a good actor to react to your job becomes so much easier.
How was the experience doing Bypass Road?
It was an amazing experience. I played Romila, a grey character. It was fun to work with Neil Nitin Mukesh. He convinced me to take up the project since I have not played grey roles. So I thought of giving it a chance and it worked well.
Did you have to go out of your comfort zone?
Yes, a little bit. I am not used to play antagonists. There are some elements that don’t come naturally to me. I had to go out of my comfort zone. The good thing is when Neil writes a script he is clear with what each actor will be doing and how will they be doing it. He performs the part and shows it you so that the actor can have a clear idea of what exactly does he wants. He is clear with his expectations and is able to demonstrate the clarity.
A lesson learnt in the industry.
The best lesson that I have learnt is do your own thing. You can’t try and fit into somebody else’s side of the mold. There will always be certain pressures that will force you to conform to a preset format. I have always done my own thing. The only thing that I have and can celebrate is my uniqueness and individuality. And I wouldn’t want to compromise on that.
What kind of fitness regime do you follow?
I am focusing on my fitness since I was 15. My father forced me into exercising and working out and I asked him ‘why do I have to exercise if I am already slim?’ He said you should exercise so that you can remain the same and to be the best version of yourself. Since then, I am pursuing fitness for more than 25 years now and as I grew old I realised that the biggest takeaway of fitness is mental. Physical fitness is great, people appreciate you for looking great but the bigger picture is that you have the flexibility to bend and the energy to continuously run after your child and play with them. This is what wellness is about and not about looking a particular way.
How do you time manage?
Acting is just one part of my life. I am an entrepreneur, I run a production company, I attend women festivals and a lot of other things. The only way you can be true to everything you do is compartmentalise well. It is the key to manage everything.Gul Panag | Panag who was last seen in the film Bypass Road, speaks with Musba Hashmi about what made her take up The Family Man, experience of working with Manoj Bajpayee, her fitness regime and how she time manages everything