She's still remembered for her role in Drisyam as the younger daughter of Mohanlal and Meena, the one we feared might give the family's secret away in her innocence. Five years on, Esther Anil is anchoring prime time television shows with elan and is all set to make her debut in movies as heroine. Those big, scared eyes that had melted our hearts twinkle with happiness as she talks about her budding career and how grabbing time for travelling is a family trait.
"Everyone in the family loves travelling. But these days, we can hardly find the time," says Esther. "When I am done with my shooting schedules, someone else will get busy. We do plan a lot of trips, but in the end the plans get postponed endlessly. But recently, all of us decided that enough is enough and we all needed to holiday together. So we went ahead and took a two-day break to head off to Cherai beach. It was so much fun and we were glad we could grab some quality family time," she beams.
Cherai beach, one of the most scenic beaches in Kochi, is about 25 kilometers off the town. It is close to the Vypeen islands. "We spent the whole two days at Cherai, frolicking in the beach all day, going back to the room only for rest," she says.
The hotels near the beach serve a variety of sea food delicacies, adds Esther. The beauty of the Arabian Sea and the great-tasting food makes Cherai a great place for a short getaway, she says. "It was a short trip, but one that we all enjoyed thoroughly."
My very own Wayand
"My hometown is Wayanad, the wooded hill district. It's only been an year and a half since we moved to Kochi. Maybe that explains my love for woods and greenery," says Esther. "My dad, mom, and everyone in the family are nature lovers. Our home in Wayand reflects the love for greenery that runs in the family – the construction has been done in such a way that it blends with the nature in the surroundings," she adds.
Since moving to Kochi, the family looks forward to the visits to their home in Wayanad. The trips are usually planned during long holidays. She says that the fun part of these holidays is the short trips they go on to explore the scenic spots in and around Wayand.
"Even though we have been in Wayand all these years and have seen couple of beautiful spots, it’s now that we are seriously exploring the place. I have never been to Chembra peak, one of the most famous scenic spots in the district. I am looking forward to going there," she says.
Among the outings she enjoyed in Wayand is the recent trek to Kurumbalakotta, says Esther. "A group of my friends had planned the trip. The parents of one of them came along with us. It was such a memorable journey. And to think it is only at a distance of 6 km from my home! I was mesmerised by the beauty of the sights around. It seemed as if we could literally touch the clouds. One can see almost half of Wayand from the top of the hill," she says, the excitement still palpable in her voice.
The unplanned trip to Valpparai
Esther recounts how the family once ended up at Valpparai, a hill station that falls within the Anamalai hill range in Tamil Nadu, without panning to. "We had started out with the aim of going to Athirappally waterfalls in Thrissur. When we reached there, it was a little too crowded for our comfort. As a family, we prefer quiet places where we can peacefully enjoy nature. So we got back in the car and kept travelling ahead, with no particular plan in the beginning. Somewhere along the way, we decided to head to Valparai. As soon as we got there, we knew it was the best decision. It was biting cold and the beauty of the place was utterly out of the world," she says.
"We stayed there that day. The drive along the edge of the forest was exciting. The tea plantations nestled among the misty hills are so pretty. Valparai has coffee plantations too and there's so much to explore," she says, adding that they must go back for a longer stay.
Travelling to shooting locations
The trips to shooting locations often bring the opportunity to see new places, says the young star. "Among the places I have been to till now, I would choose Rajasthan as my favourite. I went there as part of the shooting of the movie 'Olu.' The best thing I noticed about the place is that the people in Rajasthan are happy and positive despite the many adversities that surround them."
The team had to shoot some scenes in a remote village where a largely isolated tribe lives. "Since it was a tribal belt, we needed to get permission from the authorities. Though we had requested for permission for the entire team, only a few of us were finally allowed to go. Those of us who were able to visit the village consider it a rare opportunity. It was a really memorable experience."
Saying that she found the lifestyle and culture in Rajasthan so close to nature, Esther describes the mud houses and elaborately decked up palaces in great detail. "Some of the houses do not have roofs!" she exclaims. The people are generally hospitable and welcoming, she says. "Most homes have goats and cattle. At one place where we stopped for tea, we saw them milk a goat and make tea with it. Isn’t that wonderful," she muses, her big eyes smiling.
She adds that the Rajasthani handcrafted ornaments are a treasured lot in her collection now. Next on her list is Goa, she informs. "I had been there as part of the Internatioanl Film Festival of India (IFFI). But that was only for one day and I didn't get to see any other place in Goa other than the festival venue. So now I want to go back there with my family and see the famed Goan beaches," winds up Esther.