Actor Gul Panag on lending voice to wildlife documentaries to be screened on World Earth Day
Actor Gul Panag talks about her experience lending voice to two wildlife documentaries by National Geographic that dive deep into conservation
To be empathetic and not be an animal person is near impossible, says actor Gul Panag.
Growing up, she says she would hunt down old issues of National Geographic magazines from bookstores to add to her collection. And so, it appears fitting that on the occasion of World Earth Day on April 22, she voices two films — Tiger Queen of Taru and On the Brink — by National Geographic that look at conservation as part of their Planet Possible initiative.
While the former follows Maya, a tigress’ attempts to perpetuate her bloodline, the latter looks at two species, the pangolin and the gharial, that face a threat of extinction.
Gul’s love affair with the wild started in Zambia, South Africa, where she spent two years, when her father, who was in the Indian Army, was posted there.
“I went to school in Lusaka. At the time, I was exposed to the many national parks of Zambia — the Luangwa National Park, the Kafue National Park, the Lusaka National Park and so on. And, to see those animals in the wild, in the habitat they are meant to be and in such huge numbers, was absolutely enthralling,” she says.
For the last 10-odd years, Gul has been going back to visit the continent almost every year.
For the actor, who made her mark in cinema as early as 2003, being a voice artiste was nothing new. In fact, Gul says that before she started appearing on screens, she did quite a bit of voice work. A lot of the documentaries she had produced also have her voice.
Gul Panag | Photo Credit: special arrangement
In the case of Planet Possible, she recalls, “I was acutely aware of the privilege of being able to lend voice to this important work.“ While voicing the films, the “voiceover in my head was that of gratitude”.
To give shape to the efforts of the filmmakers was a rewarding experience, though professionally Gul is not new to the craft.
“At an emotional level, it was an absolutely new experience. What the films about the pangolin and gharial brought out in me, was a sense of anguish that I perhaps may not have experienced before while doing voice work,” she adds.
Gul says that the training she has received in voice modulation, articulation and manner of speech has helped her in expressing the sense of despair, anticipation and optimism that are the underlying emotions of these documentaries.
The purpose of such work is to invite planet lovers to share and revel in the joys of what the Nature has to offer, she says, adding, “And, also provoke them to think about what they can do individually, through advocating for our ecosystems. To push us towards action.”
“The medium of visual storytelling has made activists and conservationists out of so many of us,” she says. And, this is a step up.
Tiger Queen of Taru and On the Brink will be screened at 12 pm and 1 pm respectively on April 22 on National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo Wild