Talking to OTTplay exclusively, Esha opened up about getting stereotyped and breaking out of it.
Bollywood actress Esha Gupta, who began her career with cameo dance appearances, has now taken a turn in her career for the good. She is now seen in comparatively substantial roles, the latest being MX Player's Nakaab.
Talking to OTTplay exclusively, Esha opened up about getting stereotyped and breaking out of it. She also spoke about the story being similar to a high-profile death in Bollywood, working with Mallika Sherawat, Gautam Rode, update on Hera Pheri 3 and her future projects.
Excerpts from the interview...
Nakaab isn't the first time you are playing an officer. Did the role take you back to One Day: Justice Delivered?
No, actually. This is a different role. Somehow I love playing a cop, I guess (laughs). The personalities are different. When you are a CBI officer, it means you have everything under control and people taking orders from you. Here, Aditi has to take orders from someone else and people always try to make her quiet. They try to let her not speak her mind. It is also because she's in a world where she feels staying quiet is better than arguing. This story is about how Aditi lives her life and what she does to change it.
What makes Aditi Amre a strong personality?
I would like to say the opposite. Aditi Amre is not a strong personality. She changes, develops and becomes a different person. What makes Aditi herself is the fact that she's ready to go to any depths and lengths to get someone justice. That's what I like about Aditi - that she is not going to give up.
The situation for the industry currently is very sensitive, with high-profile celeb deaths taking place. During such a time, what made you say yes to Nakaab?
It wasn't a reason at all why I said yes because it's too sensitive of an issue. Especially when you are an outsider. I was all alone in Mumbai when that happened. You don't want to think what a family goes through or a person is going through mentally. It wasn't based on that at all. I just loved the story. In general, it's a really nice story. We've been developing the story from much before things happened. We're trying to show the politics of how people with power control those without it. It also about how many people are behind trying to make sure that the real reason doesn't come out. I liked the fact that it is a thriller-drama that would hopefully keep people engaged till the very end.
Mallika Sherawat comes back to B-Town with the show. With you and her, the show brings a whole lot of sexy, won't you say?
I think you'll get to see that more from Mallika's character Zohra. My look is nice and sexy but of course, it's because of the scene. When I was approached for the film, the makers told me they have no budget for my hair and makeup. So I wasn't glamourized at all. Due to that, I was more focused on how I'm acting which I liked. It's not a chance people want to take with someone in the field that I'm in. Most of the makers want to show what I am off-screen. They don't want to take a risk and bet the race on the horse they know will win. They would want me to look glamourized, do a pretty dance and that's it. I want to look different on-screen too. Thankfully, that wasn't the case with Nakaab. Here, it's only Aditi, a role which is acting-based and the script is the hero. People will be really happy seeing her. I know I was. Do you know that in the first scene, I started singing Kaho Na Kaho? That continued everytime I went to see her. She would laugh.
You mentioned about makers glamourizing you in roles. Were you getting stereotyped and how did you manage to break from that? Nowadays we see you in more substantial roles, as compared to when you began your career - when we saw you in a lot of videos compared to a role.
That's what happened, right? That's the stereotype of Indian actresses in general. Most of these actresses till now - except maybe a Deepika Padukone in Piku - they have four scenes, dialogues but four songs that they will become known for. I did the only videos for two-three years of my career. While I was doing that, I was also studying law and trying out acting at the same time. After that point, I realized it's not who I am. Everyone wants to make money. For me, that came through dancing and doing dance shows. I realized that it wasn't making me happy. I didn't want to come in a skirt and be the damsel-in-distress. I just couldn't do it anymore. Luckily, I got roles like in Rustom and Baadshaho. They were roles I could be part of. I even got lucky with Nakaab. I've never played a role like Aditi. Her personality is so 180 degree different than me and thus, I liked it a lot. I didn't want to get stereotyped as an actor. As a female actress, most of them are. Even with actors, you see them in a bindaas role and say that only he can pull off this character. I really hope people can see that I can do different roles too. Take Manoj Bajpayee for example. I worked with him in Chakravyuh. He can do all kinds of roles. When Family Man came, I was pleasantly surprised. Eventually, I hope people can see that yes, she's beautiful and hot but she can also do this.
Since you both made your Bollywood debut with Emraan Hashmi, did he ever become a topic of discussion on sets?
Never, actually. Let's not give him so much attention. I'm so happy that we didn't discuss anyone and that Mallika is on the same level. Some people get successful by it but I believe not gossiping about others is good for your own sanity. Malaika and I would only discuss clothes, scenes, yoga, food and America. It was nice to discuss real things like real people would.
Gautam Rode, on the other hand, makes his web series debut with Nakaab. Did you have to guide him through shooting for the digital space? What was the vibe on set like?
I did not guide him through anything. It was good working with him. Since he's been in the industry for so long, I learnt from him. He's a pro at what he does.
You will complete a decade in the industry next year. What would you say your overall experience has been like?
It didn't even feel like that it's been almost a decade. I still remember everything I did in my university. I still exactly know the first day of shooting Jannat 2 as well as Nakaab. It's been really nice. I'm so blessed. Thousands of people come to Mumbai to get even the smallest roles. I have no complaints. God's been really kind to me that I've even branched out to web series. It has such great content that it's acting-based. I love that!
What is happening with Hera Pheri 3?
I don't know, actually. The film got delayed after our director Neeraj Vohra's untimely demise. We just put everything on hold. I have no idea if the film is happening or not. As of now, it's not happening with me at least. Maybe if it is revived, then I might be approached for it.
You did a web series Reject X and now Nakaab, but nothing after that. Tell me what your future projects look like.
I'll be starting my next series. I'm shooting two series simultaneously because they were pushed owing to COVID-19. Next year, I have two films. One of them is with a debut director Vikas. It's a nice sweet story of four friends who go to Goa. I have another film with One Day director, Ashok Nanda. It's a thriller/horror space. Unlike Raaz, it's a psychological thriller/horror.