Gul Panag | Her recent Instagram post has got many people talking. Panag tells Musba Hashmi that it is easy for people to appreciate a person as a super-achiever or fitness epitome, but they ignore the hard work that has gone behind it, and she aims to challenge this notion
What is keeping you busy these days?
We are just emerging from the lockdown. I am looking forward to work on a film that was stopped on account of the lockdown. I am also grateful for the amount of time that all of us got to spend with each other as a family second time round. It’s about finding the time to pause, reflect and to think what one should and can do. These are not the conversations that one is able to have with oneself frequently, otherwise. I am glad that we had the opportunity to do that at the backdrop of almost what appears to be an existential moment.
A lesson that the pandemic has taught you.
The lesson that I learnt during the last lockdown and reiterated is that one doesn’t need a lot to be content and happy. Everything that means in life is within the confines of the four walls of your house. Also, you realise that you can get by beautifully without all that you once thought were necessary ingredients of life.
Your recent post has proved that it is okay to not feel a particular way. What made you talk about it?
I don’t know if you have read the full post, but it actually was a reaction to a reaction to a previous post. I am not speaking out here on mental health while it may be a part of what I am trying to say but, here I am speaking on being labeled as a super- achiever and the responsibility that comes with it. It was when everybody was celebrating the go getter that I was. When someone reaches out to you and says all those amazing things , more often than not they forget what all efforts and hard work did it take to reach here. It is easy for people to say: ‘Oh, I tried, but I failed’. That is the notion that I want to challenge. It wasn’t as if I was having a hard day, I love what I am doing right now and I don’t have a mental health problem. The whole point here is that sure one has a bad day, but one has to rise above it all. It is all about the effort that you have to put to stand back after a failure. But typically, it is easier for lazy people to focus on your achievements and not on what takes you here. What I want to talk about is any kind of achievement, big or small, is an achievement and behind it goes a mammoth amount of effort.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is essentially an extension of who you are and what allows you to be comfortable in your own space and way.
How hard is it to stay in shape? What do you do to keep yourself fit and healthy?
It takes a lot of effort. For somebody who is telling you: ‘Oh, you look amazing’, is sort of letting you know that it’s a rosy picture. However, it’s not. Essentially, it is about making sure you are disciplined and doing things over and over again, well past a point when there’s no enthusiasm or motivation, but you are going to do it. Fitness is one thing that you cannot achieve unless and until you are committed to another level. It is not about doing something for five days a week for three months. It is about doing it for five days a week for the rest of your life. So, it is probably the biggest commitment of your life and also the hardest to leave. Most people around you will not appreciate it and will try to talk you out. It depends on you; to not to listen and continue doing what you want. Also, fitness is not about starving yourself, it is about indulging within the boundaries. You need to understand your goal and how much indulgence it allows.
There are people who question every choice a person makes. How do you deal with them?
You need to carry on regardless. You need to remind yourself that you will meet a lot of naysayers in your life and you just have to ignore them. That’s the mantra.
How do you pick and choose your projects?
Now, I have a fair sense of what will work for me, what will excite me and what will not. So, there are no XYZ boxes that need to be ticked. I get the sense of the person helming the project, I read about it and then it is all about taking a leap of faith in the individual, believing that the person has what it takes to take a film to the screen.