Friday, April 13, 2007


And so today I come to concluding part of my series on the acting children of my dear Dharmendra... the series has been a lot of fun for me and I've learnt a lot. I'm actually going to miss it. Today's star is the spunky Esha Deol.... but first the theme song...

Dharam’s Children
The series ends today
With the story of young Esha
First child of Dharam and Hema (the last line doesn't really work, but please bear with me)

Esha is a Daddy’s girl
They are really close
She has a very bright future
Because she hates to lose (ha, so cheesy!)

(Repeat Chorus)

Esha Deol was born in India on 2 November 1982 to Hema Malini and Dharmendra. Her name means ‘the divine beloved’. She attended the elite Jamnabai Narsee School in Mumbai, a middle school which also lists Abhishek Bachchan, Kareena Kapoor, Raveena Tandon, and Esha’s half-brothers Sunny and Bobby among its alumni.

According to IMDb and Wikipedia, Esha has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Technology and a Master’s degree in Media Arts, (I’m not sure which of these degrees she got at Oxford, but she apparently studied there). Other sources seem to contradict the whole Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees thing; and Esha implies in one interview that she left formal education after her twelfth year, preferring to focus on her acting career instead.

Esha looks like Hema (especially when she smiles), but she also looks a lot like Dharmendra – I think she’s got a nice blend of both parents’ features. Her features are quite strong and well-defined (which I like), like her dad’s; and she has her mother’s sweet smile. Esha is 5 feet 6 inches tall and has a really fit and toned physique thanks to a rigorous workout and dance regimen.
Esha and her younger sister Ahana are accomplished dancers in the Odissi dance form. Esha has performed onstage several times with her mother, who is trained in Bharatanatyam. Esha is also a football buff and plays the beautiful game (as well as other sports) very well, which I think is super-cool.

In addition to Hindi and English, Esha speaks fluent Tamil (as a result of which she was in one of Mani Ratnam’s Tamil-language films, ‘Aayitha Ezhuthu’ (2004)). Apparently, her Punjabi is pretty good too (Dad must be pleased with that!) Esha calls herself a ‘Daddy’s girl’ (she and I have that in common). In light of that relationship, her decision to become a Bollywood actress is really interesting, as her dad disapproved at first. I like the fact that she just did her thing.

Like her brothers, Esha’s entry into Bollywood was met with positive vibes – her performance in her debut film ‘Koi Mere Dil Se Pooche’ received good reviews, and with its release she was well on her way to success. Since kicking off her Bollywood career in 2001, Esha has made a princely 20 films – obviously she’s a hard working lady who is determined to succeed in her chosen career, so props to her for that.

Sadly, according to some, Esha just might be a bit of a brat. There are reports that she once slapped fellow actress Amrita Rao, and she also slapped actor Zakir Hussein rather hard during a scene (I find that really hilarious, which I guess is not very nice of me). I am not sure whether the whole ‘brat’ thing is true or whether it’s really just the usual unfair and negative stereotyping of a strong, opinionated, outspoken young woman. From her interviews, she definitely comes across as blunt, direct and a little bit of a diva (I personally like a bit of divaliciousness – in other people) – but not exactly a brat. I guess I’ll never know which is true.

Having acknowledged her talent and beauty, I must also acknowledge that until recently, I didn’t like Esha. She just seemed to me like one of those arrogant, temperamental, the-world-owes-me-a-big-fat-favour-’cos-I’m-just-so-fabulous drama queens; and the fact that she once was a close friend of Kareena Kapoor, a woman I often think of as Bollywood’s Paris Hilton (not quite fair of me, though, as she does have talent, whereas Paris has none) didn’t exactly help matters. And I had only seen Esha onscreen once, in an absolutely awful film. But since seeing her in another film and doing a bit of research on her for this feature, I can admit that my views have changed (or at least, that they’re now open to change).

I’ve only seen two of Esha’s movies, and here they are:

Kyaa Dil Ne Kahaa: Esha co-stars with Tusshar Kapoor in ‘Kyaa Dil Ne Kahaa’ (KDNK), surely one of the most irritating and tiresome Bollywood movies I have so far had the displeasure of coming across (I hate to sound mean, but this is on the real). The problem is not really the performances, although I really have nothing good to say about Tusshar’s acting in this film (I find him so annoying in general). But the story! It is really, really annoying – it just drags on and on and bugs the hell out of you like a mosquito constantly buzzing away somewhere close to your head. In fact, this movie is pretty close to torture in some ways. I stuck it out because I always like to finish what I start, but by the end, I wished I’d been bold enough to just stop fifteen minutes into it.

Basically Esha’s character (also named Esha) falls for Tusshar’s character, Rahul. But Rahul has no plans of marrying Esha, and instead wants to keep things ‘as they are’ (which is basically, nowhere). The reason for Rahul’s reluctance? He’s been raised by rich, but also embarrassing, neglectful, slightly pagal parents, who have turned him off the idea of marriage and scarred him for life (I wanted to feel sorry for him for a second, but he was such a drama queen that I quickly withdrew my sympathy). So far this is all slightly tolerable – but then the film-makers proceed to turn the bulk of this film into a ‘marry me’/‘no’ back-and-forth rigmarole between Esha and Rahul, an exchange which makes less and less sense as the film goes on, and basically drives you up the wall. It’s all shallowness, immaturity, and worst of all, fierce lashings of needless and ridiculous drama.

And the ending is simply abominable (I should warn that the next couple of sentences will contain a spoiler). After doing her best to persuade Rahul to marry her, and getting rudely embarrassed in return; Esha is pressured into another marriage by her family. Just before the wedding (in time-honoured Bollywood style), Rahul comes to his senses and decides to marry Esha after all – so he interrupts the wedding. But don’t except a nice, cute, heart-warming ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’, ‘Muhjse Dosti Karoge’, ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ or ‘Hum Aapke Hain Koun’ type of ending (although by this time the characters have gotten on your last nerve and you truly don’t care what happens to them anyway), because Esha spoils the moment by abandoning her poor innocent groom (not that I care about him either) at the ceremonial fire and running off to tell Rahul that she doesn’t care whether he marries her or not and she’d rather ‘live in’ with her beloved forever and blah blah blah. I mean, come on, who is supposed to believe that she suddenly doesn’t care after she’s just spent the last few eons desperately trying to make Rahul marry her?
I’m actually getting cheesed off just recalling the silliness of this film. Anyway, for what it’s worth, Esha looks pretty (see picture above) in it and her acting is ok. There are a couple of funny moments and one or two ok songs. The rest, as far as I’m concerned, really should have been canned. It just makes you go ‘Aaarrghh!’ Never, ever, again.

Just Married: When I started my ‘Dharam’s Children’ series, I had only seen KDNK, so I was not feeling the least bit charitable towards Miss Deol – KDNK was not a good vehicle for her acting talent at all. I am so glad I was able to see ‘Just Married’, a film by talented writer-director (and daughter of great actress Rakhee and phenomenal screenwriter Gulzar) Meghna Gulzar, because it has given me a totally different and refreshing take on this young lady. I can now actually agree with the people who say that Esha got her dad’s acting chops and her mum’s star quality. Just shows what a huge difference some good material can make.

‘Just Married’ is the story of Rithika (played by Esha) and Abhay (played by Fardeen Khan, whom I now have a new-found respect for – now I want to edit my ‘Favourite Khans’ post now and put him in there somewhere), a newly married couple who know nothing about each other and go off to Ooty for their honeymoon after an arranged marriage. I really like this film – it’s sweet, mature and kind of gentle in a way. It explores all those delicate, funny, uncomfortable human emotions – uncertainty, nervousness, shyness, transition, forced intimacy; in a lovely way. I heard it didn’t do too well because it was released soon after ‘Honeymoon Travels Pvt.’ and people thought it was the same kind of story. That’s a bit sad, I think because I’ve seen both films and they aren’t that similar. They’re both about honeymooning couples, and they both feature an older couple and a ‘modern’ couple, but that’s about it.

‘Just Married’ is a very different kind of film from ‘Travels’; it is really not a fun romp, it’s quite ‘quiet’ and grounded, although it does have its amusing moments. Where ‘Travels’ focused equally on the stories of each of the couples, ‘Just Married’ is very much Rithika and Abhay’s story, with the other stories kind of feeding into theirs, in a very sweet and interesting way. I’m not saying either movie trumps the other; they’re both very good, but they’re very different – it’s just a shame for Gulzar and her team that they both came out around the same time, and hers came out second.

Anyway, I loved ‘Just Married’ because it made me think, it entertained me, it was intelligently made, and I left the cinema feeling a bit emotional and wanting to fall in love (and that feeling doesn’t hit me very often). Esha and Fardeen were both fab in their roles – they were totally believable – Esha as the friendly, independent but also awkward and confused young bride; Fardeen as the sincere, but also a bit confused young groom. I just thought they were so sweet together, and each performance balanced the other out – I loved that their characters were both ‘modern’, but not in a stereotypical, shallow way. And the rest of the cast (Shatish Shah, Kirron Kher, and some other people I don’t know) did a great job of supporting them; each couple with very interesting stories of their own.

So I loved Esha in ‘Just Married’ – and just on the strength of that subtle, ‘real’ performance, I think she’s quite a good actress, when she’s got good material to work with. I’m looking forward to seeing more of her.

A few resources on Esha Deol: (an oldie, when she was just getting her foot through the door. Very interesting and cute – she once wore braces! (another thing she and I have in common)) (an upbeat interview) (Ouch!) (after ‘Just Married’) (Hmm... ) (now I want to see ‘Yuva’!) (this one is narcissism galore! This is one girl who luuurrves herself – it’s definitely a fun read!)


Alan said...

Sorry, I find Esha totally unexciting. However, her Mom is a total babe! Even at 56, Hema looks great. Of course, she's only got a couple years on me.

Daddy's Girl said...

@Alan: Hema Malini is such a luminously beautiful woman - you're right, she looks so great for her age.

Maja said...

I don't care for Esha much either (but looove Hema, she's fabulous), but this was fun to read anyway. Yuva was one of the first Hindi movies I watched, it totally freaked me out because I'd just seen Abhishek (and fallen in love with him :D ) in Bunty & Babli, and then he's suddenly this big, scary man in Yuva! It's a great movie though, it even made me like Kareena for a little while. I definitely recommend it :) And that Tamil movie of Esha's that you mentioned is the Tamil version of Yuva, I think Esha was the only one to appear in both versions.

Maja said...

Oh I forgot to say I really like the sound of Just Married, I'll have to watch that if I can find it!

Daddy's Girl said...

@maja: Hey, I am loving your new picture - accha? Love it. I have to warn that 'Just Married' didn't get great reviews (lukewarm at best) and I seem to be one of very, very few people who liked it... so maybe my taste is just kinda wack on this occasion (it's been known to happen). I just thought it was such a sweet film... let me know what you think if you ever get to see it.

Anonymous said...

Just chanced upon your blog and read ur write-up on esha. I agree with you-'Just Married' presents Esha in a new light. I saw the movie last sunday. Liked it so much that I bought the dvd the next day. It's a sweet romantic movie. Even Fardeen excells in the role of Abhay Sachdeva. Think I am not so averse to him or his movies now as I was before. And yes, I think Esha and Fardeen look good together on screen.

Daddy's Girl said...

Hey anonymous, thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. I'm so glad someone else feels the way I do about 'Just Married' - I thought it was really sweet too, and I am definitely looking forward to getting it on dvd.

Anonymous said...

hey great post.