Monday, 20 April 2009

"A role like Shabri is given to you once in a lifetime", Eesha Koppikhar

by Devansh Patel

On a hot summer day when you have to go and interview a hot actress, things start getting hotter the time you reach and ring a bell on that celebrity door. Then starts to cool down when you come to know that she has just declared her passionate relationship with her boyfriend open to the public and media. Welcome to the home sweet home of the Koppikhars. A maid opens the door and I see a scorchingly thin figure wearing a track suit in a wake up mood and mode. Took me a few seconds to figure out that the lady standing was Eesha. Sometimes a thin figure that makes clothes look elegant can seriously underwhelm without the curvature the camera adds. But as Eesha escorts me to her small cute little sitting area, I'm braced for a complete showdown. Miss Koppikhar was mesmerizingly lovely because her no-make up-face complimenting the track suit made her look like the world's cuddliest actress. All that was missing was the leonine spark familiar from photos and TV appearances. What hit the jackpot though was her million dollar smile and her face looking as crisp as a lady pink apple. Unbelievably, this is how she looks in morning-after mode. But before we began our candid chat, she introduces me to her grandmother, father, mother and Mougli, her pet Alsatian, who comes barking towards me. “It's a friend Mougli”, shouts Eesha. Mougli wags his tail in delight and accepts my greeting. Met the members? Now meet the pampered princess, for whom the greatest blessings aren’t found in the cordoned-off VIP area but around her family and her loved boyfriend, with whom the actress plans to get married sooner or later and live a happily ever after life. UK's Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent Devansh Patel gets personal over the most personalised chat Eesha Koppikhar has ever had since her acting career where she talks about her soon to be released two Mukta Arts Films, her most ambitious unreleased project, Shabri, the turning point in her career and the love of her life, the handsome hotelier, Rohit Narang and her way of keeping busy after marriage. Over to the self made woman who quotes, “I have no God father in this industry. Just one God, one father and one mother”.

How did your likeness for Rohit Narang blossom into love?

Rohit and me were in touch over the phone and text messages for more than two years now. We've bumped into each other at social gatherings and I quite liked him as a person as he seemed to have a positive frame of mind and an honest approach in what he does. I started going around with him from the longest day of the year in 2008, June 21. And as I got to know him, I discovered that he is a very generous soul and a helpful person. Whatever I liked, gradually blossomed into love. So it's been a romantic journey since ten months now.

Post your new found love life, have you also found a new Eesha Koppikhar who'll be looking at films differently?

Yes, I found a new love life and a whole new Eesha Koppikhar but after Shabri, Ek Vivaah Aisa Bhi and a couple of more films like these, with or without Rohit, I made up my mind that I am going to be more selective with the kind of scripts I'll be taking on. I want to do films which portray some kind of a message now rather than just be running around trees. I want to be a part of serious cinema. I'm not saying parallel or cross over films but some serious, substantial roles which label you as an actor more than just a good looker.

So you're saying that in your acting career, you've only had couple of films worth signing?

Not really. But the fact is that people still remember me for my Kya Kool Hain Hum performance. Having said that, I've never really been that happy with my roles in terms of performances as it's a male dominated industry where female actresses don't have much to do anyway. Nevertheless, if something really nice comes my way which may not be that performance oriented, I may take it on.

Now you've got a helping hand at home, Timmy Narang aka Rohit Narang for your decision making.

Of course. Timmy is a business man and he is very analytical about what one should do. So he definitely throws in his inputs on how I need to handle my career. If it makes sense to me, I listen to him. If not, I don't (laughs).

Not many know that a programme on Sab TV called FIR was inspired by your character in Kya Kool Hain Hum.

You're right. FIR has Kavita Kaushik doing a Haryanvi accent just like I did in Kya Kool Hain Hum. The truth is that I met the director of FIR in Gold's Gym where he told me about his likeness for my role in the film and that he had created Kavita's role especially after seeing the film. That's an honour. Plus I've also got a few cops saluting me and saying that they want a character like mine in their police station.

Brief us about your first time experience of working with Mukta Arts?

Right Ya Wrong is a suspense thriller where I play a grey character. It's a very mysterious kind of a role. Then I'm doing my second film with Mukta Arts called Hello Darling which is an out and out comedy. I play Satyavati Chautala who gets a job in Mumbai. There is Celina, Gul and Javed Jaffery in this nonsensical and a mad comic caper.

What about your long awaited and anticipated Ram Gopal Varma film?

Oh God, yeah. Shabri it is. I play a gangster in the film. Actually a slum dweller, a woman who is spoilt and sandwiched between the Mafia and the cops. It is interesting to know that whatever films I've done for Ram Gopal Varma so far are all special appearances. A role like Shabri is given to you once in a life time. The role was so demanding for me that I had to be hospitalised after the film was over. You can imagine the amount of stress I got under to play a role of a slum dweller. If the role isn't done well, it can just fall flat on your face. I still don't know how the audiences are going to receive it but everybody I meet talks about when Shabri is going to release. Well, only RGV has the answer to that I guess.

Do you thank Lalit Marathe for watching RGV's D.

Yes, you can say that. Lalit who is still waiting for his directorial debut Shabri to be released saw me in D. He liked the scene from the film where I am washing the utensils just before Chunky Pandey gets killed. That's when he decided to cast me for Shabri, of course it was also Ramu who had his say. In fact, even after the death scene of Chunky, I got a call from Javed saab and Shabana ji saying that they hadn't seen an actress cry like that in any film. I was really ecstatic that evening after the comment.

But you were not Ram Gopal Varma's first choice for Shabri.

I still remember the day when Ramu called me to his office where he showed me a promo of Shabri which was cut with Antra Mali in it. But for some reason, things didn't work out with Antra and the director. Ramu too wasn't keen. But we all know how Ramu is. He was in two minds before he finalised me for the title role. But once he saw the rushes, Ramu was convinced. He said, “I can't believe it. I thought you would be the one who'd stick out as a sore thumb”. Even now when I look at my Don pictures and put them next to my Shabri pictures, I can't believe it.

We also hear about the Kali Mata's blessings in disguise which got you your dream role Shabri.

Yup. This incident took place just hours before I got my role as Shabri. I often visit the Sitladevi temple. Just next to Sitladevi is my kuldevi Shantadurga and bang opposite her is Kali Mata's temple. I paid my respects to Kali Maa. There is a saying in the temple that only a crying baby gets milk. So I asked. Asked for a rocking film to come my way. Then suddenly a flower fell right in front of me and I took it with me as her blessings. The same day I got a call from Ram Gopal Varma to come to his office. The rest is history.

What are the other things you've realised about yourself besides being an actor?

Apart from Eesha Koppikhar the actor, there are a lot of other things I want to do in my life. I love fitness and food. Timmy is a hotelier and I want to do something there as well. I don't want to work all my life doing just movies. So I am tapping different sides of my talent. Meanwhile, because of the current meltdown, I am also doing other activities. Like, I am appearing for my black belt in Tae Kwon Do. As for films, I am in and out of narrations, listening for new scripts, etc. My idea is not to do just anything to be busy and to keep my diary full. I want to do something like Shabri and Ek Vivaah Aisa Bhi. The fate of the film does not matter to me.

Aren't you fed up of the 'Khallas' song? I mean, you're still known in the media and your fans as the 'Khallas Girl'.

laughs). Khallas was a benchmark song for me. That's the song I was and I am still recognised by. That was a monster of a song. People had not seen a song like that. I mean, there is so much of me than just that song. Love it or hate it but you can't ignore 'Khallas'. Again, thanks to Ram Gopal Varma.

Elections are coming up Eesha. How secured are you today with what's been happening in our country?

I don't feel secured at all. I want a peoples government. I don't believe in politics. I believe in policies. Having said that, if I want my type of government, I better vote. The government has just been making plans but fail to execute them. They need to bring back the lost trust in us, and now is the time. Post 26/11, things have definitely changed. I am a celebrity. I may not go to a mall but when my friends or family visit, I get scared. That's what the black day has done to me.

Any of your films which Rohit has seen and has liked?

He liked Kya Kool Hain Hum, he cried seeing Ek Vivaah Aisa Bhi and loved Shabri. Me, Lalit and Rohit saw Shabri together. Rohit also said, “I don't know how this film will fare but you have done your best ever work in Shabri”.I then told him, "You look like this YRF film hero. You're tall, smart and suited all the time".

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