Gul Panag certainly loves to have a point of view. Not restricting herself to performing in front of the camera, time and again she has shown a keen inclination towards variety of topics, both related and unrelated to movies. In a recently held conference where she was required to talk about 'Bollywood Influencing Lifestyle Trends', she did make sure that her point does come across loud and clear. Here are some of the excerpts:
- Firstly I have a problem with the word Bollywood. I have a problem with anything that lacks originality, and this name is pure case of copying the West. However, since unfortunately it has become our name I am resigned to its use as well!
- Lifestyle according to the Oxford dictionary of English is the way in which someone lives. Ever since I have been living consciously, I have been influenced by cinema (it wasn't called Bollywood 10-15 years back). Everyone has at some point been influenced by Bollywood consciously or unconsciously; even those who may have disdain for it.
- Bollywood, apart from overtly influencing us in our choice of cars, clothes, hairstyles, chyavanprash, shampoo and oil, also influences our way of thinking in a more covert and latent manner and it's this part that I'd like to focus on.
- Bollywood has shaped opinions and the way we think. For instance, the Indian Air Force had a series of MIG crashes some years back. Every other day there would be a snippet in the paper about another MIG crash. There were 30 crashes in one year, which is roughly one plane falling out of the sky every 10 days. But no one cared - neither the public nor the public servants. It took a Rang De Basanti to bring focus to the issue and suddenly the youth was demanding more accountability.
- The influence on popular culture was apparent when Dr. Manmohan Singh won the vote on the Nuclear Deal and SMSes went around saying Singh is King. Need I say more?
- The greatest contribution to the integration of society in India after the Indian Army has been made by Bollywood. Whether it's helping bridge the North-South divide or promoting secularism and social equality or widow remarriage or teaching us about loving and respecting our parents in films like Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge.
- Our folk dances and songs owe a lot to the movies as well. Today 'bhangra' is the way to dance not only in Punjab but every where. Few people know that 'bhangra' was primarily a dance form of West Punjab (now Pakistan) in the Sialkot region and post partition it was left "behind". And it would have died out, had it not been for a song from Naya Daur featuring the Bhangra Team of Mahindra College, Patiala. It was from then on that 'bhangra' became popular in our Punjab!
- To conclude I'd like to say that Bollywood doesn't just impact our lifestyle; it impacts our psyche, our very being! It impacts who we are!