While Anshuman Jha and Ridhi Dogra received the lion’s share of media attention for Lakadbaggha, a young girl from Sikkim who made her Bollywood debut with the movie directed by Victor Mukherjee grabbed eyeballs with her confident and suave performance. Meet Eksha Kerung, who is a cop, boxer, model and now — an actor. The 21-year-old chatted with us about breaking stereotypes, making a statement with every stride and successfully juggling multiple careers.
On being a boxer
My father had enrolled me in a boxing club in my village. I started training and really liked it. Actually, I liked the training process so much that I didn’t realise when I became ready for participating in competitions. When my coach told me that I would be competing in the nationals, I was happy as well as scared because I was worried about my face getting damaged. But I still competed in the nationals. I am not competing anymore, but I’m still in touch with boxing.
On being a cop
In 2018, I participated in Miss Sikkim and that was the turning point in my life. Because that’s when I told myself, Eksha, you wanted to do this, so you should do this. At the same time, I got to know that I’d been recruited by the Sikkim Police Force. My parents wanted me to take that job because it’s a government job. I never said no because I didn’t want to let them down. I am proud to say that I am the only person in my family to have a government job. I support my family and my younger brother’s studies.
On being a model
After getting advanced training, I got into the special force. I had put modelling on the back seat at that time. When I got my first posting, I came to know that auditions for MTV’s Supermodel of the Year were going on. I auditioned for it and got a positive response.
I didn’t tell my parents that the event was about supermodels. I told them that they would see me on television. I received a lot of love because I am a cop and a boxer and do many things simultaneously. A couple of my reels became viral.
On being an actor
Getting an offer from Bollywood was a massive bigger surprise. Anshuman Jha reached out to me on Instagram. He told me about my character in the film. I immediately said I would do the role because it involved action scenes. I listened to the full story later.
On receiving support from the Sikkim police force
My senior officers were very supportive. They said they would give me a chance to live my dreams. And then I got the leave to shoot for the film. Even my leave to visit the movie promotions in Mumbai was sanctioned in one go. I’m very grateful that I have such amazing officers who always have my back.
On playing an assassin in Lakadbaggha
My character kills for the fun of it and loves bloodshed. Nothing affects her. I got a chance to do stunts, so that was great. While I am a police officer in real life and have never broken rules, I break rules and bones galore in the movie. Honestly speaking, the action part was easier for me to perform than acting.
On her favourite Bollywood films
My favourite film is Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. I also like Dil Ka Rishta, starring Arjun Rampal and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. I really want to work with Nawazuddin Siddiqui. He is such a legendary actor! His intensity scared me when I saw him killing someone in Raman Raghav 2.0.
On breaking stereotypes
It was not my plan to break stereotypes — it’s just the way I am. Coming from a simple family, I needed a job and to get settled in life. But I think with my hard work and by God’s grace, I am able to do many things simultaneously. I guess that’s my uniqueness and I feel blessed for that.
On handling negativity on social media
Social media helped me a lot. You get more opportunities when your reach increases. I don’t get affected by negative comments because I don’t think that I have done something that will embarrass the police department. When I post a reel — I post genuine reels — I get comments like ‘She has a lot of time… Police log reels bana raha hai aur chor bhaag raha hai… etc.’ But this is how we make ourselves happy after a stressful day. I can’t make a reel when I’m on duty. The public doesn’t know that sometimes I’m on duty for 15-16 hours with a rifle. I can’t show that on social media, right?
I asked my superior officer whether I was making a mistake by posting reels on Instagram. He told me, ‘Eksha, you’re an inspiration right now. Because of you people know how Sikkim police are. We get positivity from your videos.’
On balancing career and family
I won’t leave my job, but I have the option to take a long leave. I plan to take a yearlong leave to see how acting and modelling go. If everything clicks, I will definitely find a way.
Earlier, I kept my dreams aside and focused on my family. I saw my parents struggle, so I didn’t want to be selfish about chasing my dreams. I guess my good karma is coming back to me.
On a memorable moment
I have been felicitated by my school and it felt fabulous. My parents never show their emotional side. We love each other but we don’t express it. So, in my speech, I talked about how my parents brought us up through tough times. The next day, my father was watching the video on his phone in the kitchen and he was weeping. That was a huge thing for me. It doesn’t matter whether I’m going to make it big in the film industry or not, I have achieved my definition of success.