Four years before Kareena Kapoor Khan had popularised the size zero frame in Tashan, Esha Deol had pulled off one among the most notable physical transformations, with her svelte frame in Dhoom (2004). What was rumoured to be the result of 10-hour regimented gym sessions was a far cry from the “plump” avatar she had made her Bollywood debut with, in films like Koi Mere Dil Se Pooche, and the Hrithik Roshan-starrer Naa Tum Jaano Hum.
The actor, now Deol-Takhtani, admits that the request to gain weight for her next, Ek Duaa, was an odd one in an industry that has “always been telling me to look fit and slim”. What made this task particularly toilsome was that she had only recently shed 10 kilos of pregnancy weight, following the birth of her second child. Deol had learnt from her two pregnancies that gaining weight did not have to imply following a diet comprising unhealthy processed foods. Choosing to take to carbohydrate-loading, she kept pizzas and burgers at bay, and upped the quantity of rice and ghee in her diet. Deol also pressed pause on her cardiovascular and weight-lifting routines to ensure that her body was in a caloric surplus. “I’d merely head for walks in my compound to keep my mind calm.”
Esha Deol gained 12 kilos for the role of a mother in Ek Duaa
Ek Duaa is Takhtani’s home production with husband Bharat. “Director Ram Kamal Mukherjee’s film signifies a prayer from a mother’s point of view. I was moved by the script, because today, I am also a mother to two daughters,” she says, adding that she had to subsequently lose weight after the film was completed. “Gaining weight is easy, but losing it requires discipline and hard work. It took me six to eight months to achieve this look. Maintaining the weight when tasked with daily chores is a challenge too. Initially, when you need to knock them off, you have to [be disciplined] every day. Today, I exercise four to five times a week, and follow a strict diet.”
Deol, 39, admits that losing weight after the second pregnancy isn’t as simple as doing so after the first one. “The way I look today is different from the way I did after my second pregnancy. I am more toned, and fitter. Post-pregnancy, our bodies have more elasticity, which makes them malleable. We can mould it into whichever figure we desire. This is something my mother [Hema Malini] told me.”
Having spent years training her body, she no longer needs professional help to understand its requirements. “I would run on the treadmill for 45 minutes, weight-train for 30, and practice yoga. I love lifting. It helps keep muscles toned and proportionate, and makes me feel good because endorphins are released. I also love cardiovascular work because I can let my mind wander.” The dancer attributes her malleability to the years spent in perfecting the art. “Dance is a form of training that keeps you physically and mentally fit. One has to remember the right steps, and also the appropriate techniques, and execute it on the beat. It is a body and mind workout.”
While gaining weight
I had bigger portions of white rice, ghee, and curd. I would have pancakes with maple syrup, and bananas on it. Aloo parathas with ghee and yoghurt [became a staple]. For lunch, I‘d have white rice with dal tadka. I also enjoyed chole-puri or pav-bhaji, all of which were homemade.
While losing weight
I was only able to enhance my relationship with food following marriage and motherhood. On a regular day, I have papaya and organic, gluten-free bread. I have dal with olive oil. If I am on a strict diet, dinner comprises soup, salad and quinoa cutlet.