The prodigal daughter

The prodigal daughter

Esha Deol, about to tie the knot and savour marital bliss, somehow could not live up to the hype that her pedigree generated

By Khalid Mohamed

Published: Fri 22 Jun 2012, 3:14 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 2:54 PM

Hers is quite a curious case, really. A star daughter, she had Bollywood czars making a beeline to sign her up for mega-budget films, but when they flopped continuously, she was written off — perhaps for no fault of hers. Next, her mother produced and directed an extravagant romcom — Tell Me O Kkhuda — to relaunch the career of the elder of her two daughters. Again, no go. It tanked majorly at the cash counters.

Esha with parents Dharmendra and Hema Malini

And so on June 29, 
the 30-year-old Esha Deol — daughter of Hema 
Malini and Dharmendra — will get married at the ISKCON temple in Juhu, Mumbai. Groom Bharat Takhtani belongs to a diamond business family, and met with her parents’ approval immediately, prompting an engagement ceremony in February this year. Currently, Hema Malini is personally calling the who’s-who of the film industry for the wedding reception. Frequently, the senior actress has stated, “Dharmendra has never been pleased about Esha being in films. He keeps looking around for an ideal match for her… but finds something lacking in the potential grooms he has seen. I guess, every 
father of the bride is like that — a bit apprehensive about the home his daughter will go to.”

Dharmendra and Hema Malini, however, have approved Bharat Takhtani whom Esha had been ‘dating’ for over a year. Over the years, the mother had been anxious about the rumours linking Esha with Zayed Khan, Aftab Shivdasani and John Abraham. Tongues had wagged ceaselessly, too, about Esha’s wild partying habits. And it was conjectured that the daughter of yesteryear’s Dream Girl wasn’t serious about making her mark as an actress. In addition, there were comparisons with her mother who is still strikingly beautiful at the age of 63.

So will Mumbai show business miss Esha, who, 
to her credit, did perform her roles with a zestful spirit in Dhoom, Dus, 
Yuva and No Entry? To that the answer is yes and no. Talk is that Esha will not quit acting and in fact has a couple of films — Chai Garam and Ghost Ghost 
Na Raha — on hand to complete. Yet, it is not likely that she will be offered any role to die for in the immediate future.

In the meanwhile, her sister Ahana has resolved to stay away from film acting despite periodic announcements that she will make her screen debut any day. Instead, she has started a designer clothes brand called Rabbit Hole. Chances are that Hema Malini with both her daughters — trained in Odissi and Bharatanatyam — will continue to stage dance shows in India and overseas.

Frankly, Esha did 
have that inherited quality to make an impact as 
an actress of substance. Snag was that she appeared in far too many B-grade projects, even going way over the top as a vamp in a film titled Darling. Clearly, she was much too young to portray a psychotic stalker.

Worse, she had made her debut in the ill-conceived and stodgily-directed film Koi Mere Dil Se Poochhe. Incidentally, Jaya Bachchan who played her mother-in-law in that film always had appreciative words for Esha. “She is really an intelligent and natural-born actress,” Bachchan would emphasise. “I just hope she gets the right films.”

Alas, that didn’t happen. Of her count of 25 films 
in a span of ten years, 25 were unmitigated disasters, both critically and financially. And the trade 
is unforgiving of commercial downturns.

In person, Esha’s 
behaviour with her colleagues, staff and media has been exemplary. And that old-fashioned quotient called courteous manners will be sorely missed — at a time when actresses are self-serving publicity seekers. An incident when Esha was unfairly maligned involved a flight she had 
to catch from an award function in Singapore to Goa for the shoot of Dhoom. The flight was 
cancelled for technical reasons. She attempted to hop on to any flight available, but still was late by a day. Producer Aditya Chopra wasn’t amused. Maybe Esha just didn’t play her cards right or didn’t possess that killer instinct to make it to the A-list.

Of her stepbrothers, Bobby Deol is said to be very protective about Esha. Inevitably, all eyes at the wedding reception will be waiting to see if Sunny Deol arrives to wish the married couple well. Maybe he will, maybe not. Never mind. Because somewhat like the father of the bride, you’ll be happy and sad to see a gifted girl leave the glare of the limelight.

(The writer has been reviewing Bollywood for decades, has scripted three films and directed three others.)

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