Former beauty queen, politician and actress Gul Panag, who will soon be seen in the film "Bypass Road", says that though she is getting interesting roles lately, she cannot limit herself to acting.
"Acting has never been the end-all of my life because I have always had different interest areas. Acting has enabled me to do different things -- whether it is my political career, social activism, my interest in flying, my entrepreneurship and enthusiasm as a fitness advocate. Acting has given me all that because I started living a public life as an actress," Gul told IANS.
"So, as a famous personality, I have earned respect, and I have utilised it to convey my thoughts in every platform. It has given me that credibility," she added.
From the start of her career, Gul has portrayed strong women on screen, in films including "Dor", "Manorama Six Feet Under", "Summer 2007", and "Ab Tak Chhappan 2".
In "Bypass Road", she essays a grey character. The film also features Neil Nitin Mukesh, Adah Sharma and Sudhanshu Pandey.
"I play Romila, who is Neil's step-mother in the film, and an interesting grey character. She has a strong mind and knows how to get her way," shared Gul, of the thriller, which is scheduled to release on November 1.
This year she has appeared in two films and the web series "The Family Man" so far. She said right now is an interesting time for her as an actress.
"So far, it has been a good year for me. When Punit Malhotra came to me with the offer of "Student Of The Year 2" saying that he has written a character keeping me in mind, I was quite flattered.
At the age of 39, if a film director comes to you saying that, it really is flattering. Then the web show ‘The Family Man' happened and just after that, I have 'Bypass Road'," said the actress, who was Aam Aadmi Party's Lok Sabha candidate for the Chandigarh seat in the 2014 general elections. Actress Kirron Kher won the seat, for BJP.
Asked about if her opinionated personality has put her into the stereotype of a strong woman in films, she said: "Yes it has. It is true to an extent that I am only offered strong women roles, and stories of women empowerment, but since I have used film as an enabler to construct an image and I am very cognizant of that. It has worked in my favour.
Gul is always one of those celebrities who encourage gender equality and support women empowerment. However, she said that her opinion on feminism has changed over a period of time, with the experience of life.
"Honestly speaking, in my thirties I was a feminist of convenience, and which is often commonly reflected when a woman says, ‘my money is my money and your money is our money'. That is how we create pressure on a man to earn money. But If we talk of gender equality, girls must take equal responsibility in every front of life, I have realised. As a feminist, I have evolved too," she shared.
Now that she is getting interesting film offers and cinema is changing for middle-aged actresses, is she planning to shift her focus to fulltime acting?
"I do not think so, because I have my business and there are a lot of things that I cannot give up -- like I cannot give up travelling, adventure sports, flying, family time and so on. Leaving everything and shooting for days is certainly not something I see myself doing. I want to do everything in life," she replied.
Who are the filmmakers she would love to work with? "I would like to work with people I share a common worldview with. I would love to work with Navdeep Singh, and Raj and DK again because they are such interesting people and storytellers. Recently, when I watched ‘Article 15', I was blown way. So, Anubhav Sinha, if you are listening, I would love to work with you. I don't know if he can recall, but he directed me 19 years ago for a music video but now I want to work with him!" said Gul.