Gul Panag's overnight wedding on Sunday to her childhood sweetheart Rishi Attari came as a surprise to everyone, except Gul.
"I've known Rishi forever...almost! It was one part of my life that I wanted to be kept completely away from public forums including Twitter because he wanted it that way. He was and remains very uncomfortable with being written about. I have to respect that."
Gul has known Rishi from the age of 14. "He was the headboy in the boarding school that I attended. Every girl in the school had a crush on him. I had decided then and there that this was the kind of guy I wanted to marry. At that time, I didn't know I'd marry him one day. Besides the fact that he was so good-looking, I also had other reasons to feel bonded with him. We both are Sikhs and from army backgrounds."
She has known Rishi closely for fifteen years. "It's just that people didn't know about it. We kept our relationship a secret for his sake. He has been my pillar of strength for fifteen years now. He encouraged me to get into Bollywood. At one point, I wanted to leave and join the Kellog's Business School. Rishi persuaded me to stay back. Rishi gives me unconditional support. He looks out for me to the extent that he tells me what to wear when I go out and whether I look good in what I wear. He's a smart Sikh. He's the smarter one between the two of us. Even he will agree with that if you ask him."
A day after the whirlwind wedding, Gul sighed, "I haven't had the chance to let it sink in. It has been one crazy chain of festivities. We wanted it to be a small intimate wedding in Ladakh-we're both avid trekkers-like what we had seen my friend Shruti Seth going through with Danish Aslam in Goa recently. But heck, it turned to be this big fat Punjabi wedding in Punjab with his family, my family friends and relatives. And you know what? I'm glad it became so large. We had a ball because I wasn't just the coy dulhan sitting in corner watching the show. I really participated in my wedding."
150 guests rode to the wedding on motorbikes. "Even my 62-year old aunt. Both Rishi and I are passionate bike riders. Me, before him. I initiated him into bike-riding. Everyone in my family including women are into bikes."
Laughs Gul, "We wanted to keep it a secret. I even kept it off Twitter because Rishi is a very private person and he is no part of showbiz. He wanted it to be a totally low-key wedding, and I respected that. Unfortunately, people did get to know about it. And we had all these cameras trailing us...In a way that was good because those media persons got pictures of the wedding than we could have never got."
Gul sees no difference in her life after marriage. "There's no dramatic change in my life. Rishi's business is in Mumbai. So we shall continue to stay in Mumbai. At the moment everything is a blur of pooja, celebrations, family and festivity. It's turned out to be an amazing wedding."
And now for the honeymoon. "Rishi is keeping it a surprise. But I know he knows me well enough to take me where I want to go."
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