Two cheers to Esha Deol

Subhash K Jha


Two back-to-back hits - ‘Dhoom’ and ‘Kaal’ - have brought the glow of success to Esha Deol’s face. And now a sensitive performance in ‘Main Aisa Hi Hoon’ marks the arrival of an actress worth watching. Says Esha happily: “I really worked hard on my role, look and performance in ‘Main Aisa Hi Hoon’. I know I had very little to do. But I wanted to make the role memorable.“I wanted this capricious character to look and behave like a lost neglected child in search of something that she doesn’t know the existence of. I borrowed some of Sandra Bullock’s performance in ‘28 Days’. She played a character who went for drug rehabilitation.

“I borrowed her mannerisms. As for the styling and clothes, it was very ‘today’, very young and trendy. I’m glad it worked. When you get a role where you get a chance to do something with your character you go for it. But a lot of times I’m offered roles that give me nothing to do. I’ve decided no ‘faltu’ (commonplace) roles for me. I’d rather stay home than do something I don’t believe in.”

She admits ‘Dhoom’ turned her fortunes around. It also transformed her physical appearance.

“The character I played in ‘Dhoom’ needed to look a certain way. And somewhere Aditya Chopra felt I needed to change my image in the industry, that my looks needed a revamp. He could visualise my looking the way I did in ‘Dhoom’. I trusted his vision completely.” Esha admits looking hot on screen wasn’t easy. “I come from a very conservative ackground. Both my dad and mom are extremely conservative. At home I’ve never worn those ‘Dhoom’ kind of clothes, except shorts to play football. But for ‘Dhoom’ I had to change my entire wardrobe. I was given ample time to get used to the new me. Now I’m very comfortable with my new svelte look.” But that doesn’t mean Esha will do a ‘Dhoom’ for no rhyme or reason. “I’m a very blunt person. If I’m asked to show skin unnecessarily I’ll put my foot down. No one can make me do what I don’t want to. There was an item song in ‘Kaal’. But not part of the plot.” She admits she was skimpily dressed in “Kaal”. “What to do? Audiences ko kuch to dena hai, tigers ke alava (audiences have to be given something else, apart from tigers),” she giggles. Right now things seem to be going great guns for Esha. She has just signed Meghna Gulzar’s new film. “And it feels great. Because my mom did so many wonderful films with Meghna’s dad Gulzar Saab. It’s a very nice story about a couple. Meghna saw me in ‘Yuva’ and felt I’d suit the role.”

Esha’s face lights up when she speaks of Gulzar. “I had gone to meet him before ‘Dhoom’. He got me a teacher to coach me in Urdu.... In a way Meghna and I are both sailing in the same boat, being compared with our moms.” Now Esha is confident enough to face the camera with her mother. “I’m glad I’m no longer seen as just another star-kid. I’m finally getting exciting roles. Earlier I was getting rather shabby roles. Some of the films I did were done for a lark. Yeah, I guess I’m happy now. I don’t mind sitting at home. But I won’t choose wrongly.” She still takes advice from her mom. She’s also doing an English language film directed by Apoorva Asrani where she’s playing a Punjabi girl in London. “It’s going to start in July and will be marketed worldwide. Now I want to be in films where I make a difference to the plot. I don’t want to be in a position where I’ve to groan about going to work. The quality of work is encouraging. “It’s good to have people appreciating what I’m doing. Even when they weren’t doing so it was fun. I felt I had to prove myself. I still do.”

In ‘Yuva’ Esha was the only actor common to both the Tamil and Hindi versions. “When I was offered ‘Yuva’, the director’s wife spoke to me in Tamil on the phone. I had no clue I was being tested. We speak Tamil at home. Both me and my sister speak it fluently. ‘Yuva’ was fun. I liked doing the naughty things that my character had to do.” Esha is taking it easy. “I’m going to be lambasted for some of my forthcoming films. But I’m having fun. It’s fun being a brat.” At the moment Esha is single and fancy-free. “But my mom keeps saying I should go out more, find someone for myself. Isn’t she the coolest?”