Actor Esha Deol Takhtani will be seen playing Shaila Addagatla in Rudra: The Edge of Darkness streaming on Disney+ Hotstar from March 4th. The six-episode series which has been shot across iconic locales in Mumbai will be streamed in Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, and Bengali languages.

Rudra is a remake of the successful British Netflix series Luther, an engaging and dark take on a cop’s journey of uncovering truths and enacting justice for victims of various crimes. Esha will be seen in a pivotal role and is thrilled that the opportunity came her way when she was least expecting it.

In this exclusive interview with Man’s World, the actress who was last seen in MTV’s Roadies X2 as a gang leader in 2015, talks about what made her decide that this was the right time to return to work and what has been her experience like in this phase of her career. Excerpts:

You are not only making a comeback with Rudra: The Edge of Darkness, but it marks your digital debut too. How has it been?

It happened organically. It wasn’t like I had planned to come back. Rudra was the right opportunity that fell into my lap. It has been extremely satisfying as an actor to come back with a web series like Rudra. I had watched Luther and knew what I was getting into. Ajay made me believe in it even more. It was a lot more shoot time, preparations happening. Working for a web series is like shooting for two to three films. It helped me in getting into the skin of the character and exploring something new. 

Tell us something about your character Shaila and what made you say yes to it?

Having watched Luther, I thought I’d know what I am getting into, but when I met my director and understood his approach, I realised it was nothing like what I’d seen before. The way she would react to Rudra and other people was different. Deep down she loves Rudra. Shaila is dignified, strong-minded, and calm in situations where Rudra is not. Shaila completes Rudra. As an audience, I enjoyed listening to the script and that made me say yes to it.

It’s an adaptation of Luther. What were the preparations like?

I have been a fan of Idris Elba for many years and I find him extremely talented. I watched Luther many years back. Now, we have Indianized it for the audience. We had a good time preparing for the characters before going on the sets. The reading sessions, inputs from our director, and co-stars helped in understanding Shaila better. 

How was it getting back on screen with Ajay Devgn?

It’s lovely working with him. It’s always good to work with him. He is an extremely fun-loving person. He is supportive of everyone else on the sets. I am glad to have made a comeback with him. My first shot was with him and that made me feel very comfortable. We picked up from where we left. 

How does it feel when people call Rudra your comeback? 

The minute an actor is married, she is always coming back. And that’s alright, we are happy to always be back. As long as I am back and working it doesn’t matter. As a woman we are doing lots more after getting married, we are going through lots more in our personal life to call it her comeback. 

What will be your criteria to take up acting projects now?

I want to choose scripts that are more nuanced and layered. After Rudra, the scripts that have started coming my way have given me a feeling of wanting to be back and work. I have matured and grown as an actor and I want to show that side to the audience. There’s lots more depth and variety in the scripts that are being offered and I am looking forward to it. 

Any BTS scenes that we won’t see but have been special?

There was a lot of ‘Tod Fod’ as Ajay says. Everyone was too serious on the sets. 

When we talk about Bollywood, actors need to look a certain way, be of a certain age. What do you have to say about that? How do you process getting older in a notoriously ageist business?

I don’t agree with it, but yes, things have progressed. Directors now want you to be more natural. The kind of roles we are doing now requires simplicity, earlier it was more about glamour. 

Do you think OTT is changing the game for women?

It’s a game-changer and there is a lot more work opportunity, a place for writers, directors, actors, and production houses to showcase their talent. Many more stories are now being told and that’s helping to more layered characters for women. The audience is enjoying what they are watching. The kind of roles that are now being written for us is better and more nuanced. 

What’s next?

I am shooting for my next series, The Invisible Woman, and there are a couple of more projects in the pipeline. 

(Featured Image Credits: Special arrangement)