Gul Panag says she always wanted to do meaty roles in films, but her Miss India crown often proved to be a stumbling block as many filmmakers thought beauty queens could only sing and dance on screen.
"My Miss India tag has often been a deterrent for me since I did not take a conventional route to Bollywood and the kind of roles I've done or wish to do are not just about dancing around trees," said Gul.
"A lot of times, because of my beauty pageant win, filmmakers thought that I won't be able to carry off an intense role and will be only suitable for singing and dancing. So it was not easy for me," the actress said.
Gul began her tryst with Bollywood with offbeat films like Dhoop (2003) and Jurm (2005), but it was her role as Zeenat in Nagesh Kukunoor's critically acclaimed 2006 film Dor that established her as a talented actress.
Her performance in thriller Manorama Six Feet Under the following year also earned her rave reviews.
Gul's next project is Straight - Ek Tedhi Medhi Love Story, where she acts opposite Vinay Pathak. The film is being directed by Parvathi Balagopalan, who had earlier made "Pyaar Ka Superhit Formula".
Talking about her unusually titled comedy, Gul said: "My role is that of a caricature artist in London. Since it's not easy for her to live out of her earnings, she joins Vinay Pathak's restaurant as a cashier. It's then that Vinay's life starts to transform."
So does she believe that comedy is the flavour of the season? "I feel slapstick comedy is the flavour of the season, not seasoned comedy. We don't see comedies like Rajnigandha or Golmaal any more," the actress said.
Another feather in Gul's hat was the Tata Sky commercial with superstar Aamir Khan. "Working with Aamir was simply outstanding. He is an actor par excellence. He is renowned not only for his huge commercial status but also for being the actor he is," she said.
This year will see Gul working with Ram Gopal Varma for the first time in Rann, which also stars Amitabh Bachchan, Paresh Rawal, Ritiesh Deshmukh and Rajat Kapoor.
"In Rann I play Nandita, who represents the voice of youth," Gul said, refusing to divulge anything more about the movie.
Along with Rann, Gul has her hands full with Mukta Arts' Hello Darling and Rajat Kapoor's Ek Rectangular Love Story.
Gul rubbishes rumours about her wanting to join politics. "I don't know where these inaccurate statements come into the picture from? It's true that I am politically quite aware, which I feel each one of us should be because we are a part of the country and of the voting system. But I have no plans of joining the field," she said.