BEAUTY QUEEN TURNED BOLLYWOOD STAR ON HER WEB SERIES DEBUT AND FUTURE HOPES
by MOHNISH SINGH
BEAUTY queen turned actress Esha Gupta has come a long way in her professional life and never been afraid to take on a challenge.
This desire to broaden her horizons has led the beautiful film star towards diverse projects and taking on a demanding role in her newly released debut web series REJCTX 2. The much talked about ZEE5 drama helmed by Goldie Behl sees her star in a story loaded with twists, turns and secrets.
Not surprisingly, Esha was feeling content when Eastern Eye caught up with her to talk about REJCTX 2, the coronavirus lockdown, her iconic dream role and future hopes.
What kind of response have you been getting for your performance in REJCTX 2?
Honestly, all my fans have loved it. The response that I have been getting has been very good so far. The only complaint
I have heard is that my role was small. But this was just the establishment of (my character) officer Rene. I can tell my fans that in the next season there is going to be more of Rene. Not a lot of Indian web shows out there are based on youth. No matter how much we try to ignore it, but the fact is that nowadays the youth is going through various things. They have more issues than anyone.
What do you mean?
I’m not saying that they are real or not real issues, but the fact is they are so much on social media and are so much influenced by society, which is shown out there. There is no Indian show, which I know of, that is dealing with and showing these underlying problems that youth is going through. I am so happy that this show happened and people love my performance. Fans have started calling me officer Rene. Thanks to Goldie (Behl).
Was REJCTX 2 the first web show offered to you?
REJCTX 2 wasn’t the first show I was offered; I cannot tell you which show I was offered first. I understand that because of censorship leniency on OTT, people prefer to show a lot of sex. A lot of web shows offered to me had sex scenes, which did not make sense why they were there. Even though those shows have done well, but for me, it did not make sense. REJCTX was a great show I had watched even before I was offered the second season. So, when my agent and I went for a meeting regarding REJCTX 2, we were like, ‘yeah, we have already watched the first season’. So, yeah, that’s the reason to say yes to REJCTX 2 for my digital debut.
Tell us something about your character in the series?
My character Rene is a strong, yet glamorous police officer. I have played a cop before, but I had not done a glamorous police officer. Goldie once said, ‘Esha, why do we always in a Bollywood film show that if a woman is strong and authoritative, she cannot accept her beauty and sexuality? This is what I am trying to show. She knows what she is. She is just trying to get the work done.’ It’s like how they show James Bond. He is also sexy and knows it, but is still getting the work done. So that’s what officer Rene’s reference was.
Do you relate to your character in the show?
Do I relate to the character of Rene? Not really. She is a police officer. I don’t see anything as such common between us.
Working in REJCTX 2 must have been thrilling. Do you have a favourite moment in the show?
The shooting of the series has been really memorable. I was actually blessed. I had this great hair and makeup team, and my manager was with me. We had a great time. When I am on set, I don’t generally like chatting a lot, even if it’s my team. That’s how I am. I like to listen to music, keep reading my script and rehearse my lines. In general, the whole environment on the set was really nice and positive. I can say just one thing that Goldie is an actor’s director. I am blessed that there is going to be another season, which I’m looking forward to.
Where did you shoot the series?
We shot the series in Thailand. Luckily, we wrapped up the shoot before the pandemic was even spread, though we were all very, very careful. But there was still a scare because it had just slowly, slowly started to spread all over the world.
What has been the best part of having such a show on ZEE5?
The best part of having REJCTX 2 on ZEE5? In general, ZEE5 has great content. It has shows for youngsters, family and single people. Viewers can get whatever they want to watch. There is everything under one spectrum. That’s a great thing about ZEE5.
How do you feel seeing yourself on screen after completing a project?
I honestly thought that after doing a couple of films the feeling of seeing myself on screen will change. But it is still very overwhelming. Plus, the fact that a girl from nowhere has made it. My father was in the Indian air force. Ours is a very modest family. I have been an athlete and studied law. A girl with nobody even remotely related to the industry has made it there. Every time I look at myself on the screen, it’s a blessing. Every time I thank the universe and God for making me come here. It’s a divine feeling because so many people want to achieve what we have. I am blessed that God gave me this opportunity.
How is working in webspace different from working in movies?
The only difference I felt was that we shoot a film that is about two and half hours over the period of three to four months. But for a web series, which has an episode of about 35-40 minutes, we shoot a few scenes in one day. In films, we shoot one scene over a few days. That’s the only difference.
After playing a variety of roles over the years, do you still have any dream role?
If someone makes a biopic on PT Usha, I would love to play her onscreen. She is one of the greatest athletes our country has seen. A lot of women in our country look up to her. Being an athlete myself, she is someone I also look up to. I really wish if a film is made on her that I am cast in that.
How are you coping during the lockdown?
Lockdown has been really an emotional rollercoaster for me because I, along with my team, was supposed to leave for a film shoot in London. Our first day would have been from March 24. But because of the pandemic, everything got cancelled. So I ended up being all alone, as no one is living with me. It has been very depressing. I have been trying to keep myself positive and have been strong till now. I’ve been taking care of my body, skin and hair. I have been doing yoga, am reading a lot and listening to music. Basically, I am trying to do everything to keep myself busy and improve myself.
What other impacts has the coronavirus pandemic had on your life?
I think, financially, the virus has hit everyone, not just me. Apart from that, I could either be with my boyfriend or my family instead of being locked down all alone, which is now more than 60 days.
Do you believe that the coronavirus is nature’s way of cleansing the planet?
Maybe yes, because I am an environmentalist and believe in it. Look at where we have taken the world? From shark finning to the forest fire in Australia, we have been ignoring so many possible scares and climate change all over the world. I think this is the time when all countries’ leaders need to come together and fight for a solution. Pollution is not only in India, but everywhere in the world. Instead of building rockets, world leaders need to take a stand against pollution. Instead of wars, we need to realise that this is the only one planet we all have. We are the ones who decided to divide the earth. Earth came as a whole. So I really believe that coronavirus is nature’s way of cleansing the planet.
What kind of impact do you think the coronavirus pandemic will have on the entertainment industry?
Our industry has been hit financially a lot. I am not talking about actors only, but also technicians as well. So many people are hired in the making of a film or project. There are so many in the industry who have been a part of it since generations, so they can maybe come together and help such people. Cinemas are not going to open for a long time. I don’t know how many people will be okay going to the cinemas. But one thing is for sure that people will become more hygienic, which is very important. I think hygiene is something, which is missing globally. Social distancing will be maintained and people will realise that they don’t have to be always out. Spending time with family is great and there are so many things one can do just being at home.
Are you binge-watching anything at the moment?
The top three shows on my binge list are Baarish, State of Siege 26/11 and REJCTX 2. I am so hooked with the storylines that it’s so much fun watching them.
Can you give a message for your fans?
Eight years ago, I made my Bollywood debut. A girl from nowhere became Esha Gupta. It’s because of the love and respect that all of you have given me that has made me who I am. Sorry if I have let anyone down ever. I hope I’ll receive your support for my digital debut now in REJCTX 2 as well. I hope I can continue to entertain and motivate my fans always. And remember to always love yourself.
REJCTX 2 is available now on www.zee5.com