• Sunday, April 14, 2024

Arts and Culture

Return of Esha Deol

Eastern Eye spoke to the actress about action thriller Hunter – Tootega Nahi, Todega, future hopes, earliest cinema memories, and much more

Esha deol

By: Mohnish Singh

After taking an extended break from acting for marriage and motherhood, Esha Deol has been showing what audiences have been missing with winning performances in hit web serials Rudra: The Edge of Darkness and the recently released Hunter – Tootega Nahi, Todega.

The daughter of screen legends Hema Malini and Dharmendra has added to her notable performances in the fast paced Amazon thriller about an unbreakable cop wrongly accused of a crime, trying to prove his innocence.

Eastern Eye recently caught up with the actress at her mother’s palatial home in Mumbai to speak about action thriller Hunter – Tootega Nahi, Todega, future hopes, earliest cinema memories, and much more.

Why did you choose the web serial Rudra: The Edge of Darkness to make your big acting comeback?

At that point, I had just acted in and produced my first (short) film Ek Dua. That’s the time Rudra came to me, and I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to reunite with Ajay Devgn, who I enjoy working with. We worked on Yuva (2004). Kaal (2005) was fun, a nice film. I think just the fact that they were remaking British show Luther as Rudra was exciting. I like Idris Elba. I watched Luther again when they told me this was what they were making. It was from Sameer Nair’s Applause Entertainment and also marked Ajay’s OTT debut. It just seemed right, and I took it up.

Your latest streaming show Hunter – Tootega Nahi, Todega has been received well by the audience. How does that make you feel?

I am feeling really good that people are watching Hunter. They are enjoying the show and liking my work in it. It just feels good to know that my work is being appreciated.

What made you say yes to Hunter – Tootega Nahi, Todega?

Well, I think what was not to like about it, you know. What I loved about it is the story and of course, the way they were going to treat the entire look of the show. And what I am doing in it was something that really excited me. I knew I would nail the character and enjoy doing it.

Esha Deol

When someone approaches you with a script at this stage of your career, what do you look for in a character?

It depends. I mean as an actor we also take up roles where a lot of ourselves comes across. Like, there were certain things that (my character) Divya has done in Hunter and that I, as Esha Deol, would also do.

At the same time, there are characters we take on that we would never want to be on a day to-day basis. But you are just experiencing what that particular human being would go through and that’s what I love about our profession. We get to live so many different lives through our films and now streaming shows, where we experience human nature in a very different way, in close proximity.

You have been working for two decades but are returning after a long sabbatical. Now when you go on set, how do you feel?

I feel from one home I have gone to another home. Every set feels like home to me. I just love being on a set. It’s a feelgood feeling. It’s something that you are so used to and probably missed being on. When you have it, you value and respect it. Being on a film set is magical.

You must have terribly missed being on sets when you took that break?

Of course, when you are so passionate and love what you do and are not doing it, for good reasons, you miss it. And the reason why I am back to working today is that I still feel there is a lot more I need to do. I know I can do it and thankfully I am getting to do it.

Do you think the streaming space has emerged as a boon not only for actors but other creative people also?

Yes, of course. OTT has given a wonderful platform to so many people out there to display their talent, and new stories to be told. So many different kinds of stories are being told today and in different formats. So, I think films and OTT is a good amalgamation.

There are some people who opine it is going to impact the traditional cinema- viewing culture in the country… I don’t think so. I think if there are certain films that the public is going to want to watch in a theatre, and you are getting that. For example, a Pathaan is a fun watch for the theatre, and we got to do that, and the public response showed that well.

One of the most successful films of your career, Dhoom (2004) completes two decades in 2024. Share any interesting trivia with us from it…

(Laughs) Well, I have done so many interviews talking about Dhoom and there’s loads of trivia everyone knows. I can tell you sort of a fun thing, which was a bit troublesome.

When we were filming the Dhoom Machale song in Film City, it was all night shoots and while doing a dance step, I broke a pair of sandals. Getting another pair in the middle of the night that looked similar was a task. Somehow, the team managed but it broke again. Then they literally had to buy at least four to five pairs of those sandals. So, we used quite a few pairs of sandals throughout the shooting of that song.

How did the success of that film change the course of your career?

See, that film has given me a name, which resonates with the public even today. Like, I am still their Dilbara and Dhoom girl. And wherever I go, the title song has to play. So that film has given me a lot. I can give my mom’s example. She is the Dream Girl. Similarly, Dhoom has definitely given me a name that the public identifies and connects with me, and I am blessed to have that.

Apart from acting and production, is there anything else that you want to explore?

I don’t know yet. I am not someone who says no. I mean I went on to write a book. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be an author, but motherhood made me do that. So, you never know.

Apart from turning you into an author, how did motherhood change your life?

Oh, it’s a huge transformation and a beautiful experience. I would say it has definitely changed me for the good.

Remakes are a staple in Bollywood. If somebody approaches you to headline a remake of a Hemaji film, which one would you choose?

No, none. I think someone else should do it. Not her own daughter. I mean they will compare everything. And what she has done, she has done. I think these are legends from our industry and films that they have done, I don’t think anyone should touch them. Because they have got that magic about them. Don’t remake those films. Make something else. Whether it’s my mother, my father, Amitabh Bachchanji, Jaya Bachchanji, or any other veteran, I don’t think we should attempt remaking their films.

You have always been compared with Hemaji. How do you deal with it?

I am dealing with it by working. I think if you are going to let all that affect you in a good way or a bad way, then your focus is not in the right place. My focus is to get and do good work.

You have seen the world of films since childhood. What is your earliest memory of cinema?

I have so many memories. This is something maybe I don’t have a memory of because I was so small, but my first world tour was when I was an eightmonth baby. My mother, father, and Kishore Kumarji were touring all over America and had taken me along with them. So, you know, that’s where it started. An eight-month-old baby was out on a world tour with these legends. Then, of course, a lot of film sets.

Tell us more about that…

I remember being a lot on film sets as my parents would always try to keep me with them. At that time there were no vanity vans, so I would be in their make-up room or in a tent, in the garden. Basically, somewhere nearby they were shooting.

I remember, in one shoot, my dad and Ranjitji were shooting an action sequence and he (Ranjit) had to hit my father. Then I howled and howled. I didn’t let them shoot. They had to stop and send me back to the hotel, so they could shoot. But I was still so upset as a child. Any child would be if they see someone hitting their dad.

When did you realise that you are the daughter of Dharmendra and Hema Malini, two screen idols?

Much later in life. And honestly, back in the day, no one really gave us so much importance. At least the way our upbringing was and the school we went to. We were all treated very normally, and I am glad we got that kind of treatment. We were not clicked here and there. So, we had a very normal upbringing. I first got to know that my father and mother act, when I would go out with them publicly. People would take their photos or autographs. Slowly, it grows on you.

How do your children see the world of glitz and glamour?

Now they are seeing all this, and pretty much doing the same as I did as a kid.

After Hunter – Tootega Nahi, Todega, what’s next in store for you?

I am definitely looking forward to more good projects. Of course, there is a soft spot for action. So that’s something I am looking for, a good action script. Currently, I am shooting for a film called Main with Amit Sadh


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