It's tricky being an actress. More, if you're Gul Panag. If you glance through her filmography, you'll come across films that are more critically acclaimed than commercially. But in her tenure as an actress, she has shown in few films, if not many, a woman's guile and heart, pride and desperation. And mind you, all those performances in Dor, Manorama and Straight can only come from an actress who is never afraid to take a risk. It is that combination of talent and courage that Gul has shown over the years which make her do roles she wants to, and not the other way around. Think of it this way and ask: Will Hello Darling describe her any better? Whether she's playing a hard-boiled or soft-boiled character, one never knows with Gul Panag which way the shell is going to crack open. If you're an actress, the quest for a decent part on the screen is still a difficult one. 'Long-suffering' is an attitude you may have to strike in a majority of roles, while staying decorative enough to offer the leading man the promise of something more than conversation. The 'supporting' or 'character' parts she is commonly allotted, despite being the most combustible actress talent of her generation, have made Panag uniquely adept at turning herself from an object into a subject. This special correspondent chats with one of three leading ladies of Hello Darling: Gul Panag, on the many intelligent questions which are always thrown to her every time I interview her because when she talks....she talks sense. Welcome darling!
Selection of films
Hello Darling isn't a deliberate move on my part to do a film. I signed the film two years ago. At the time of signing Hello Darling, I also did a film called Straight which was started and released before this one. I was also a part of Summer 2007. For me, Hello Darling wasn't about a big banner film. I liked the story at the concept level and I was more than willing to work with new and interesting people.
My character is not the one that has all the comic lines. All the situations I'm in are what make it funny. Celina and Eesha's characters are truly comic to some extent. Mine is a pretty straight forward character. I don't consciously try and make my lines funny because if it's written well, it'll be funny anyway. You can't composite on the right thing.
Ranvir, Purab, Vinay
These comic talents are meant for people who can read between the lines. They are two different schools of comedy. A mainstream comic film like Hello Darling is different from a comic film like Bheja Fry. I think there are two different schools of comedy.
I will promote any of my film with heart and go all out. That's how it should be, right? Your commitment will remain the same but the question is how much the producer is willing to market and promote it. If producers are roping in actors, we should all be obliged. If Aamir Khan had promoted my film Straight, it would've worked and how because with great power comes a greater reach.
Subhash Ghai is definitely old school in terms of where he comes but as a person he is able to hold his ground with new school too. Someone else would've been stuck in their 1980's time capsule but Subhash Ghai isn't. It's incredible how someone with his history has so much youth appeal.
He doesn't seem to grow old. There must've been some genetic modification done to him. Javed doesn't seem to age. He is a living example of how you can preserve the way you look.
Vinay's humour and Javed's humour is very different. Vinay gives one liners and Javed can't stop in his own style. In Vinay's case, the moment you try and think about the joke, the punch is gone. There is no time to rethink too.
Dynamics of films
The dynamics of Lafangey Parindey, Aisha and Hello Darling are very different. If you look at it, you can't compare actors from one section of the industry with the others because the market has a certain function and you can't challenge it. We also determine a lot on the choices we make.
Eesha is an extremely competent actor. I loved her in Kya Kool Hai Hum. She is really versatile and has an incredible comic timing. She is very hard working. She is a kind of person who'll be sitting in the corner on the set and will be rehearsing her lines again and again. Eesha is just at it.
Hello Darling was my first interaction with Celina. In fact, before working together for this film, I'd not even met her socially. We've just shared an occasional 'hi' and 'hello' and just exchanged our numbers but that's it. But when eighty percent of the film is about these three girls, you begin to enjoy each other's company. Celina is a very intelligent woman. You can have a conversation with her on any subject under the sun, whether it's astrology, politics, human rights or astronomy.
Chunky is a rock star. Honestly. I've had a crush on Chunky Pandey since Tezaab. Every time I've kept bumping into him socially and in parties, I have to tell him about my gigantic crush. Even today he looks quite close to what he used to look in Tezaab. He is a great guy who has got a great sense of humour. He is a great conversationalist.
I think there are people who can be propositioned and there are people who can't be propositioned, in just the way they are. I firmly believe that belongs to the latter. Any man who attempts at propositioning a woman does it with a knowledge that I can get away with that woman. There isn't any underlying message in the film. The message is clear throughout the film. Hello Darling is a film on sexual harassment.
Director - Manoj Tiwari
Manoj is a wonderful guy and he is truly funny in any given situation. He is the one who understands the gist of comedy and its timings. He has been with Subhashji on many of his films and has worked in a few films before too. Manoj doesn't try and pretend to be what he's not. He is just there. That's so nice.