Esha Deol returns with a short film, premiering this Sunday
Too much excitement and a lot of butterflies in my stomach!” is how journalist-turned-filmmaker Ram Kamal Mukherjee described his state of mind in the run-up to his directorial debut, a short named Cakewalk, that marks the comeback of Bolly actress Esha Deol. The short — about a wife and mother (Esha’s Shilpa Sen) finding her place under the sun — is all set to premiere this Sunday at 6pm on Rishtey Cineplex HD and will soon stream on the Voot app. A t2 chat with Ram Kamal.
After you unveiled the poster in London last year, Cakewalk is a rare short film that’s being premiered on a TV channel…
Someone actually told me the other day that it is possibly the first short film after Satyajit Ray’s Sadgati, that premiered on Doordarshan in the 1980s, to be premiered on a TV channel. The whole industry has been supportive and kind — right from Abhishek (Bachchan) to Tusshar (Kapoor) and also Tollywood, whether it’s Bumbada (Prosenjit), Mimi (Chakraborty) and Tota Roy Choudhury, have written wonderful things about the trailer.
What prompted you to make this short?
Some years ago, I penned a collection of short stories called Long Island Iced Tea and had a lot of people tell me that I should convert it into a web series. That set the ball rolling and I wrote the story for Cakewalk. At that time, I was writing Hemaji’s (Malini) biography and was interacting a lot with (her daughter) Esha. When I was writing the character of Shilpa Sen, I could think of Esha in it. When you think of Esha Deol, you mostly have the image of a tomboy; I wanted to see her here in a Bengali bridal look, as a chef… in the kind of feminine look she hasn’t really been seen in before, barring a bit in Mani Ratnam’s Yuva. I thought of casting her because it wasn’t really an obvious choice.
I narrated the story of Cakewalk to her as a producer-writer, but she said she would do it only if I directed it. I was nervous at first because I felt I wasn’t that technically sound. But she was insistent I do it because I knew the story so well. So basically, she pushed me right into the fire! (Laughs)
What was Esha like on set, considering she was coming back after a break?
Once an actor, always an actor. You never go out of practice. On set, she was always ready, she knew all her dialogues. We did a lot of workshops and she was pretty much into the character. She knew exactly what I wanted from Shilpa Sen, though she isn’t really very aware of the Bengali milieu.
Do you enjoy directing?
I do. Right after Cakewalk, I made Season’s Greetings (with Celina Jaitly), which is a tribute to Rituparno Ghosh. I have two more shorts in Hindi lined up. I have written a feature film which I hope to start this year. I also have a commitment in Calcutta to do a short film.