High on success

High on success

Bollywood buzz: Afteranunsteady start inBollywood, Sri Lankanmodel Jacqueline Fernandezhas finally foundher footing.

High on success

It’s well past one when Jacqueline Fernandez steps into the interview venue for the Roy media interactions.

So her first query is: “Have you eaten?” Of late, Jacqueline’s confidence has been going places. After all, a Sri Lankan Media and Communications graduate, model, actress and beauty queen, who got films in India (the home country of her great-grandparents long ago!) on her own steam, does not often go places in Hindi cinema.

But after just two flops, the actress has struck a purple patch — Murder 2 in 2011, Housefull 2 in 2012, Race 2 in 2013 (all of which collectively earned her the passing media sobriquet of “The Sequel Queen”!) and the biggest of them all, Kick, last year.

Getting a ‘kick’

Vivacious and animated, she is in a great mood as she talks about her new film, career and associates. Declaring that she had signed Roy, a T-Series film, much before Kick released, two years ago, while the film was conceptualised a year even before that. Jacqueline, however, agrees that it is Kick that really made a major difference to her career.

“After I signed Kick, there was a shift in my career and in people’s perception of me. Since that time, there hasn’t been a day when I have not worked, which for me is the greatest thing. You can say that my career was re-launched.”

She gratefully acknowledges her debt to Salman Khan. “Salman is inspiring just when I see how he is and how much hard work and time he puts in, and I am aspiring now to do things the way he does with all his energy. He has been lucky for me, and he supported me and believed in me.

‘You worked hard and you deserve it!’ he would say, and small gestures like that have been important for me. So I owe him a lot, and there is so much he has taught me as a person.”

Salman is also on Jacqueline’s list alongside “Nadiad” (her pet name for producer Sajid Nadiadwala of Housefull 2 and Kick), Sujoy Ghosh (her first director, in Aladin) and buddy Sonam Kapoor. “I go to them all for advice and guidance. Yes, I know they have all names beginning with ‘S’, which seems to be my lucky letter,” she laughs.

And there is a Salman connection in Roy too, as her character Tia paints and she was inspired by him to try it out herself, and with success, on the sets. The film finds her doing a dual role, as Ayesha, a passionate filmmaker, and Tia, a rich lady.

“They have no connection between them,” she explains. “Ayesha, in a way, is much closer to what I am, connected with films, having her own dreams and goals like most girls of today, and doing everything to reach there, besides believing completely in love and romance. Tia is too rich, too sophisticated, and like a beautiful mystery. Even among the heroes, Ayesha is teamed with Arjun Rampal, while Tia is with Ranbir.”

We ask her to compare her heroes, and Jacqueline brightly begins with Ranbir. “In the beginning, I could not figure out whether he was shy or just a quiet person,” she grins. “He would do his work and be on his cellphone between shots, until one day when I found out that he was playing Candy Crush on it.

In due course, we became comfortable with each other and I found him respectful and professional. Unlike most stars, he is more into himself, but transforms when the camera rolls.”

Arjun, says the actress, has an amazing and surplus positive energy. “He will do everything for a scene — warm up, rehearse a lot and even be honest in his inputs if he thinks I am doing something badly. With such people, the ice is broken immediately.”

Onscreen chemistry

Salman, Ranbir, Arjun, and now Akshay Kumar (“He’s so calm, so positive and never in a bad mood.”) in the forthcoming Brothers, all help her because “I still feel that I can do better in all aspects, so their experience is a big plus.”

So, when we inform her that Arjun has raved about her grasping power, she laughs and says, “I have no choice anyway. I mug up everything to myself like a parrot! And that basically helps me because I know that I can go on sets and not worry about forgetting my lines but focus on my performance. But Roy was still difficult, as there were many spontaneous improvisations and my director had chosen to film the movie in Sync Sound.”


To make things simpler, Jacqueline decided to approach her double role by programming her thoughts to believing that she was shooting for two different movies at the same time. “I decided to also do small things to get into character, like sharing Ayesha’s tastes in music before the shot,” reveals the actress.

Jacqueline has also just completed her first overseas movie, Definition of Fear. “It was great working with the team in Canada for 40 days, and I would like to do such different cinema too. I am playing a psychiatrist — a psycho doctor again after Kick — in this psychological thriller. I remember being nervous and putting in a lot of research and effort then.”

Talking about psychology, what is her opinion on Deepika Padukone recently admitting to her depression openly? “Depression is something a lot of people go through, especially in our profession,” she says thoughtfully. “But we are all programmed to not give in to it or talk about it — and move on.

We are made to look small if we do confide in someone, who will just point out to the beggar on the streets and ask us what is really wrong with our life. But since all of us go through this as we are human, I am really, really glad that Deepika spoke about it honestly and openly. I have always advocated honesty and we should not be ashamed about such things.”

How relatable was this to her own life? “Oh, I have indeed gone through such emotions when my films were flopping, or when for months I was not signing up films, and even when I first came to India and knew no one.

But I decided to introspect on what I was doing wrong, because I knew that it was not my Hindi that was coming in the way of a career here. And we must always, always have the hope and faith that tomorrow is a new day and believe that things will get better and not let anything get us down.”Spoken like a true psychiatrist, we decide, as we take our leave.

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