Spotlight: Esha Deol

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“As far as I am concerned, I pick those characters that I feel I will enjoy playing and do justice to. Never say never, is what I believe, so I grab any role that gives me a chance to perform well.” ~ Esha Deol

Esha Deol is one of Bollywood’s rising stars who has a distinct quality about her that shines through whenever she is on screen. This talented actress has portrayed many different roles in her short 5 years in the industry and we eagerly anticipate her newest film Darling, that opens in theaters this Friday. With this film, she is ready to live up to everyone’s expectations of her, and so to shed a little more light on who she is we thought we would put her in the Spotlight.

Esha, whose name is derived from a Sanskrit word meaning “divine beloved”, comes from a very filmi family. She is the daughter of two of Bollywood’s best-known stars of the yesteryears: Dharmendra and the stunning Hema Malini. It’s been said that she got her beauty from her mother and her acting talent from her father. She also has a younger sister named Ahana and her stepbrothers Sunny and Bobby Deol are also quite famous in their own right in Bollywood.

In school Esha was very athletic, and while attending Jamnabai Narsee School she excelled as a football player. She continued her education at the prestigious Oxford University, getting her Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Technology and going on to graduate with a Master’s Degree in Media Arts.

Coming from a family filled with heroes and heroines, it was natural that her real desire was to go into films: in fact ever since she was a child she had the acting bug. Her mother had alwasy been supportive of her decision. Says Esha in a recent interview, “My mother was always chilled about all this. She completely supports my decision. Her only advice is that I should put my 100 per cent in whatever I try and I should be the best in whatever I do. I wanted to act but did not get the opportunity. One day, my mom suddenly asked me if I wanted to act. I immediately agreed and that is how it all started.” However, her father was initally against it, “Yes, Papa was reluctant earlier but, now, he is adjusting to it. He obviously wishes me well and keeps advising me to be careful. Both my parents tell me to do what I want, but to give it my best shot.”

To prepare for her new career, “I took lessons in Hindi diction from Veena Mehta. I enrolled at Kishore Namit Kapoor’s Acting Academy for three months. At the end of that, I felt more confident about myself,” she said in an interview.

Her debut film was Boney Kapoor’s Koi Mere Dil Se Poochhe in 2002. Co-starring Jaya Bachchan and Aaftab Shivdasani, it was a love story that also explored the relationship between mother and daughter. Sadly it did not do well at the box-office but Esha had a made a mark and was awarded the Filmfare Best Debut award along with several other awards.

She was also shooting at the same time for Na Tum Jaano Na Hum opposite Hrithik Roshan and Saif Ali Khan. In fact, her actual first scene in front of the camera was for this movie. When asked what it was like facing the camera for the first time Esha said, “I was to shoot for a small song sequence. A huge posse of people was waiting to watch me. I was very nervous. I gave my first shot with Hrithik — it was okayed on the first take. Everyone clapped loudly and I felt a lot better.”

In the next year she starred in Kyaa Dil Ne Kahaa, Kucch To Hai, Chura Liyaa Hai Tumne, LOC Kargil, and Yuva. For being part of the LOC Kargil cast she was given a national award. Esha speaks Tamil fluently and so in 2004 she had the honor of being cast in a Mani Rantman Tamil film, Aayitha Ezhuthu.

Then came the film and the role that had everyone sit up and take notice: Sheena in Dhoom. For this performance she was nominated for the Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award. Her mother said, “Dhoom turned her career around. The clothes and styling were a bit alarming though. But we had been properly warned by Aditya Chopra. He had said, ‘Forget that she’s Hema Malini’s daughter and forget she has to look like Hema Malini. But I never insisted on Esha looking and behaving like me. I want Esha to be completely different from me.” Dhoom was a huge hit and her career was flying.

She had several hits in the next year including Kaal, No Entry, which was the biggest grossing film of 2005, and Dus. She was also seen in Main Aisa Hi Hoon, and though only a secondary character she presented so much feeling and depth that her performance is one that everyone remembers.

She also portrayed roles in Shaadi No 1 in 2005, and in 2006 was seen in Pyare Mohan, starring Vivek Oberoi, Fardeen Khan, and Amrita Rao. In addition,in the film Ankahee (2006), Esha showed off her versatility as an actress by portraying a negative character and even recieved a ‘Best Actor in a Negative Role’ nomination for that performance from the ‘Star Screen Awards’.

In 2007, Just Married and Cash didn’t set the box office on fire, in fact you could say they crashed and burned. However, Esha says you live and learn from your flops. “The first two or three days after a film flops are really painful for the actors. Then we decide not to do anything similar again. I’m now much conscious about selecting my films. Besides reading the script carefully, I also check out who the director is. I’m going to work with filmmakers like Ramuji only. However, at times even good movies fail to do well at the box-office.”

Speaking of Ramujii, aka Ram Gopal Varma the illustrious filmmaker, he is the director of her next release Darling which opens on the 7th of September. In the film “I play an unsatisfied soul who returns as a ghost to finish the unfinished,” she said. The film also stars Fardeen Khan and Ishaa Koppikar. According to Varma, “… Darling is of a different genre. It is a horror comedy, which makes you laugh. It begins as a romantic comedy then becomes a murder mystery and then turns into a horror film. It is a highly emotional, relationship story where the basic premise starts with comedy.”

Varma was very impressed with Esha’s performance and said, “Esha’s character in the film has been treated with intensity. She is a good actress who has not been utilized fully.” With this interesting premise, great cast, and celebrated director, it is sure to be the hit this actress needs to become one of Bollywood’s established stars.

Next in the pipeline is Dus Kahaniyan which releases in October of this year, and she has also signed a film with Tusshar Kapoor and Suniel Shetty called One Two Three. She will also be seen in a love story by Mahesh Bhatt titled Jannat that is just about to go on the floor, and on hold is a film with Milind Soman and Shilpa Shetty titled Kahin Aag Na Lag Jaaye.

Esha has come a long way since her debut film and as she learns more about her craft and grows as a person she will fully come into her own as an actress. She is beautiful on screen and in her work you can see the brilliance she has inside. We can only wait and watch to see how great her performances will be in the future. We look forward to watching her in many more films!

Fun Facts:

Esha, like her mother is a classically trained dancer. She is an accomplished dancer in the Odissi style and they have performed dance concerts together. Her sister also trained in Odissi and Hema is an expert in the Bharatanatyam style as well. Funny thing is, Esha has never played a dancer in a film.

She is the granddaughter of Jaya Chakraborty.

Her favorite film starring her parents is Sholay.

Her favorite Perfume is Estee Lauder’s Pleasure.

Kajol and Julia Roberts are her favorite actresses.

When she first started in the film industry she said that Sylvester Stallone was her favorite Hollywood actor. In Bollywood it was Shah Rukh Khan.

She has several tattoos and says she is very fond of getting them. She has one on her left bosom that is a scorpion, which she got while visiting London several years ago. She also has a large tattoo of Gayatri Mantra on her back. She knows the mantra by heart.

Esha works outs at the Barbarian Power Gym, which is owned by her ‘Rakhi brother’ Satya.

For Cash she performed a lot of stunts and said, “This film has all kinds of action — there is action on the road, in water, in air, in the mountains, chases, fights, everything. The best part is I got to train at a motor training school where I learnt to spin the wheel, take a 180 degree turn. I have always loved taking to the road at full speed and this role fulfilled my need for speed.”

During the shooting for Darling things got really confusing because whenever the director he called either Ishaa or Esha, both of them would turn. He got so frustrated that he gave them each a nickname Ishaa was IK and Esha was ED. From then on it was smooth filming.

Personal Quotes:

“An actress is all about acting, revealing is not even in the job!”

“Face your fears and live your dreams.”

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