Eesha Koppikhar (Hindi: ईशा कोपिकर) is an Indian actress and model. She has appeared in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, and Hindi films.
It was during her time at college that she appeared in a photoshoot for Indian photographer Gautam Rajadhyaksha. The shoot led to work in advertising as a model, notably for L'Oréal, Rexona, Camay, Tips & Toes and Coca-Cola. Koppikhar contested the 1995 Miss India Contest, winning the Miss Talent Crown. Her modelling work gave her an introduction to the film industry and to her first film appearance in the Tamil movie Kaadhal Kavithai in 1998. Since then, Koppikhar has made over forty films and has several Hindi films in production or due for release in 2008. She continues to model for fashion designer Anita Dongre and is currently the Indian representative of the Italian fashion company Police Watches and Jewellery. Outside her work in film, music and television, Koppikhar is a spokesperson for the animal rights organisation PETA
The 1997 Hindi film Ek Tha Dil Ek Thi Dhadhkan, directed by Shahrukh Sultan, is often quoted as being Eesha Koppikhar's first film, but there is no evidence the project was ever released. Koppikhar's career must therefore be said to have begun with the 1998 Tamil film Kaadhal Kavithai, co-starring alongside Prashanth, and directed by Agathyan, with music by Maestro Ilaiyaraaja. Koppikhar was awarded the Filmfare Best Female Debut Award. Continuing her Tamil film career, Koppikar's second movie was En Swasa Kaatre in 1998, opposite Arvind Swamy, directed by K. S. Ravikumar, with music by renowned music director A.R. Rahman. 1998 saw a third film, this time a cameo appearance in Praveen Kanth's Jodi, starring Prashanth and Simran.
In 1999, Koppikhar alternated between appearances in the Telugu comedy Chandralekha, co-starring Nagarjuna and Ramya Krishnan, directed by Krishna Vamshi; and the Tamil gangland movie Nenjinile, starring Vijay and directed by S. A. Chandrasekhar.
By 2000, Koppikhar's sights were on Bollywood, but this did not stop her appearing in four Kannada films: Hoo Anthiya Uhoo Anthiya with Ramesh and directed by Praveen Naik, with music by Karthik Raja; Nuvvu Vasthavani, starring and directed by Ravichandran; alongside actor-director Ravichandran again in O Nanna Nalle; and finally Surya Vamsha, directed by S Narayan and starring Vishnuvardhan in a double role as father and son.
After four films in 2000, and a detour to Mumbai for a brief appearance in Fiza and an item number in Rahul, Koppikhar returned to the south in 2001 for Sundar C's Tamil project Kaathal Solla Vanthen. This was another film never to leave the development stage although a soundtrack of the same name was made available. However, the Telugu comedy Prematho Raa, starring Venkatesh and Simran, and directed by Uday Shankar, saw Koppikhar's penultimate South Indian role. She signed off her South Indian career in the Tamil action film Narassima, directed by Tirupathisamy and starring Vijayakanth.
By 2002 Koppikhar appeared to be consigned to support roles until she was asked by Ram Gopal Varma to appear in an item number for his underworld movie Company starring Ajay Devgan, Vivek Oberoi and Manisha Koirala. The number in question was Khallas, choreographed by Ganesh Hegde and the effect on cinema audiences and critics was to leave Koppikhar with the enduring nickname Khallas Girl. A second notable item number, Ishq Samundar, in Sanjay Gupta's Reservoir Dogs remake Kaante, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt and Sunil Shetty, was enough to raise Koppikhar's profile and in the following year she took the Stardust Award for Most Exciting New Face for Khallas.
Koppikhar's relentless career produced five films in 2003. In Dil Ka Rishta, directed by Naresh Malhotra, she played opposite Aishwarya Rai and Arjun Rampal. Prawaal Raman's portmanteau film Darna Mana Hai saw her alongside college whipping boy Aftab Shivdasani. Dr Chandrakprakash Dwivedi cast her in the role of Urmila Matondkar's sister in the sectarian film Pinjar, also starring Manoj Bajpai. A brief appearance in JP Dutta's war movie LOC Kargil paired her opposite Sunil Shetty again. And in Harry Baweja's Qayamat: City Under Threat, Koppikhar played one of three terrorists fighting off co-stars Ajay Devgan and Sunil Shetty; a role which would bring her a Filmfare nomination in the Best Villain category.
In 2004, Koppikhar's films were releasing on average every two months. Both Mani Shankar's science fantasy Rudraksh and Kundan Shah's madcap comedy Ek Se Bhadkhar Ek teamed Koppikhar next to perennial acting partner Sunil Shetty. In Krishna Cottage, she was cast opposite Sohail Khan for Santram Verma's creepy ghost story. Inteqam, directed by Pankaj Parashar and co-starring Manoj Bajpai, saw Koppikhar revive the role played by Sharon Stone in the original Hollywood version: Basic Instinct. Another cameo appearance in Kunal Kohli's Hum Tum with Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukerji could have left a comedy taste to 2004, but this would be the year of street protests following Karan Razdan's controversial Girlfriend, co-starring Amrita Arora and Aashish Chaudhary caught in a lesbian love triangle. The film provoked public poster burning and calls for the film to be banned. The Khallas Girl was in the news again.
In 2005, Koppikhar eased up somewhat only releasing four films. Sangeeth Sivan's bawdy comedy Kyaa Kool Hai Hum, with Anupam Kher, Ritesh Deshmukh and Tusshar Kapoor saw Koppikhar nominated in three separate award ceremonies (IIFA, Zee Cine Award and Star Screen Awards) for best comedy role. Two more comedies saw her make guest appearances: David Dhawan's Salman Khan vehicle Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya, and Abbas Mustan's whodunit, 36 China Town with Akshaye Khanna and Kareena Kapoor. A return to Ram Gopal Varma's Factory saw her alongside Chunkey Pandey in Vishram Sawant's gangster flick D: Underworld Badhshah, starring Randeep Hooda.
Farhan Akhtar directed a 2006 remake of the Amitabh Bachchan hit Don: The Chase Begins Again, this time with Shahrukh Khan in the lead. Koppikhar was cast as Khan's moll Anita. By now the success of Don was in contrast to Koppikhar's stuttering career with a string of films stuck in production or abandoned. Vicky Ranawat's Haseena Smart Sexy and Dangerous crept out towards the end of 2006, Jagdish A Sharma's murder mystery Garhee appeared on dvd, Hansel Mehta's Raakh was dropped, whilst Koppikhar's highest profile film of 2007, Nikhil Advani's multi starrer Salaam-e-Ishq, saw her sharing limited screen time with Sohail Khan. Ram Gopal Varma's much discussed Shabri, directed by Lalit Marathe -a role which led to Koppikhar being unrecognised in character and barred from the film set by security men- has yet to attract a distributor. Later in the year came the haunted love triangle of Ram Gopal Varma's Darling, with Fardeen Khan and Esha Deol.
Between filming Koppikhar, like many Bollywood actors, performs in stage music shows. In addition to this she has appeared in two music videos: Patli Kamar by KK for a private album commissioned by Sony in 2001/2002; and Bandish Projekt's Bhor (Satyam Shivam Sundaram) in 2004, choreographed by Bosco-Caesar. In 2006 she appeared onstage in the Indian Idol Grand Final to dance with the two finalists, and 2007 saw her as one of three judges in the celebrity dance competition Nach Baliye3, alongside director David Dhawan and Vaibhavi Merchant. Koppikhar served as a judge in the Miss Universe 2008 contest, held on the 14th July in Vietnam alongside, amongst others, fashion designer Roberto Cavalli and former winner in 2004 Jennifer Hawkins.
Gahraee (2009) - Nishi
Har Pall (2009)
Haseena - Smart, Sexy, Dangerous (2009) - Haseena
Right Ya Wrong (2009)
Ek Vivaah Aisa Bhi (2008) - Chandni
Hello (2008) - Esha Singh
Money Hai to Honey Hai (2008)
Salaam-E-Ishq: A Tribute to Love (2007) - Phoolwati
Don (2006) - Anita
Darna Zaroori Hai (2006)
Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya? (2005)
D - Underworld (2005) - Gunjan
36 China Town (2005)
Kyaa Kool Hai Hum (2005) - Urmila Martodkar
Ek Se Badhkar Ek (2004) - Tracy/Shalini Mathur
Girlfriend (2004) - Tanya
Hum Tum (2004) - Diana Fernandez (Special Appearance)
Krishna Cottage (2004) - Disha
Rudraksh (2004) - Lali
Pinjar (2003) - Rajjo
Darna Mana Hai (2003) - Abhilasha
Dil Ka Rishta (2003) - Anita
LOC Kargil (2003) - Kumar's fiancee Santho
Qayamat: City Under Threat (2003) - Laila
Aamdani Atthanni Kharcha Rupaiya (2001) - Anjali
Pyaar Ishq Aur Mohabbat (2001) - Ruby
Fiza (2000) - Gitanjali
Dharma: The Warrior (1999) - Nisha S. Raj
En Swasa Katre (1999)
Kaadhal Kavidai (1998)
“Wild animals belong in jungles where they can chase, hunt and sun themselves – not in cages where they are jeered at and teased. If you want to see animals really being themselves, switch on a wildlife channel”, says cool cat Koppikar.
Dream roles if any?
I'd love to do the characters Sridevi played in CHALBAAZ and SADMA. She is my favourite actress. I am a determined person and my biggest dream is to win the Oscar for India and that too, very soon.