Esha Gupta, on being just as sassy, bold and unconventional as her Baadshaho character
For a couple of weeks now, Esha Gupta's been feeling under the weather. Determined not to take antibiotics to combat the flu, the actress plunges into a day filled with promotional activities for her upcoming film, Baadshaho.
Ensconced on a couch at the Sun-n-Sand hotel, she deftly responds to questions about her film. We begin with how she came on board for Baadshaho: “I got a call from Milan Luthria. After we spoke, in my mind I'd already decided to say yes because this is a Milan Luthria film. The script didn’t matter to me at all. Then, Milan met me and narrated the film in two minutes flat, while also explaining where my character — Sanjana — fits in. He also said that when he saw me for the first time, he knew he'd met his Sanjana," says Esha.
One pitfall of doing an ensemble film is the possibility of one's screen time being lessened, or being overshadowed by the other stars. Esha, however, wasn't too perturbed by this. “If you have seen Sholay, a multi-starrer, then I think it answers everything. I am not saying that this film is going to be as big as Sholay and I am not even comparing the two. The simple fact is that it does not really matter. It’s not that I am playing the role of a little dainty girl in the film,” she says.
Baadshaho, a heist film, has as its backdrop, the Emergency of 1975. However, unlike the recent Madhur Bhandarkar film, Baadshaho isn't concerned with the horrors of the time. Rather, it is inspired by the raid on the royal family of Jaigarh. Milan Luthria has added his own twists to the story to bring it to a logical conclusion. Did Esha feel she was back in the '70s while shooting for Baadshaho? “My costume and my makeup did give me a semblance of being part of that era!" says Esha. "My look in the film was inspired by Parveen Babi and Zeenat Aman's styling, in their films.”
Esha's first film was the sequel to Jannat. Five years in the industry later, she's yet to make her mark. Films like Chakravyuh, Humshakals, Commando and Rustom have done little for her career. Not many know that Esha holds a degree in law and pursued her course from Newcastle University in the UK on a scholarship. Her father retired from the Indian Air Force and her mother runs a women's welfare organisation. Esha considers her family a modest one, and says, "I am glad I'm smart. When in Newcastle, I managed my studies by holding down two jobs on the side. The course was expensive, and my father had asked me if I'd be able to manage the expense as it was impossible for him to continue paying the fees."
While she intended to continue with a profession in law, a brain tumour diagnosis for her mother saw Esha put all her plans on hold. "Two years of my life just went by in a jiffy, taking care of my mother during her chemotherapy... that's why I couldn't pursue a career in law," she says.
Esha recently caused quite the sensation on social media, when she posted semi-nude photos of herself on Instagram. The Baadshaho actress says it wasn't a big deal — “It's the same as how I post my regular photos or promotional pics on Instagram,” she shrugged. She was also prepared to be trolled. “I didn't think it would become such a big deal or trend on social media. It's bizarre to have my photos become a talking point when there's so much else happening in the world.”
Were the photos then about proving a point? “I was not trying to prove any point," Esha counters. "I love my body. I'm sexy as hell and I will post such images."