‘We are just an image in this glamour world. No one knows the trauma or the pain, the tears that are shed behind the scenes.’
‘I pride myself on my personality and not my looks because, one day, I will be old and crusty and someone is going to love me for my personality, right?’
‘Women are so lucky right now. We can be independent, we can have a job, we can have a career, earn our own money. We can choose when want to settle down and when we want to have kids because, now, we can have children even when we are older.’
She’ll burp loudly apologise for the “bubbles”.
When she yawns, says a co-star, the entire set will hear her.
A lady who calls things as she sees them, she definitely does not believe in being prim and proper.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is Nargis Fakhri for you.
She is really fun to be around, discovers Patcy N/Rediff.com, as she walked into the interview to find Nargis bare of any make-up, happily chomping on coconut flakes.
“It’s been a long day,” Nargis sighed dramatically. “You are coming at the end of my strength.”
Modulating her voice and throwing in various accents while answering the questions, Nargis seemed to be a born comic who could not bear not having fun. If these didn’t work, her facial expressions were sure to make you laugh.
“I am dying,” she groaned, “but feel free and ask away.”
We did, and what a fun interview it turned out to be.
Did you meet Sangeeta Bijlani before preparing for this role? What was your reference point?
No, I have not met Sangeeta Bijlani. My reference point was her films. The one which stuck in my head was Tridev. I also read about her on the Internet.
For me, it was all new. I didn’t know anything about it. I am new to India and all this is very old stuff.
The director and the people at the workshop kept telling me about the things that had happened and how it happened and the emotions that were involved because they had lived through it. That was interesting and helpful.
What did you learn from her films?
I would watch her body language (in the films). The great thing about her was she was a model before she became an actress. When you are a model, you learn to stand a certain way. I could see that grace and elegance in her.
We, as models, have a certain way of carrying ourselves whether it is walking on the runway or shooting for a film. So it was not as difficult as I thought it would be.
I don’t know whether I look like her, but I think they did the best make-up. I wore a wig because she has amazing hair… it’s unreal. I was so jealous of her hair. Really guys, who has hair like that?
She has an amazing body. She is so tall and slender.
She was a fashion icon, so the stylist created some amazing outfits, all styled to suit the Nineties. That’s not exactly my favourite style but it was fun to dress up. For some of the outfits, though, I said, ‘Oh, you need to burn this.’
When we did the photo shoot and when I saw the rushes, I loved it. I hope the audience can believe -- at least as far as my look is concerned -- that this is the woman, the character, Sangeeta.
The director plays a big part as he knows the story inside. He is the most important person when you are trying to perform a scene.
The other important thing was to understand Sangeeta’s relationship with Azhar. The relationship they shared, the drama that was happening, the feelings and the emotions between them… understanding that was probably as hard.
The emotional stuff was so draining.
Why do you think Sangeeta fell for Azhar?
From the film and from what I know, he was a smooth person.
Come on, you all know the truth. It is a very romantic whirlwind, right? Bollywood and sports are romantic in their own way.
These two people were in the limelight. They would sneak around to see each other. That becomes exciting and romantic in a way, right? At least, that’s what I thought.
When you are married and you see your man everyday, you don’t care about him any more. But when you don’t see your man and he buys you presents and, whenever you see him, there is something happening… you are going out on a date… it’s a combination of so many things.
In this film, you get to see Azhar’s life through his eyes. You get to see what really happened behind the scenes, how he felt and what he went through.
We touch on every aspect, not just the cricket. We think athletes and Bollywood stars are not as real (as non-celebrities are) because they are so glamorous. Today I am not wearing make-up but usually, I have hair, eyeliner, eyelashes, contacts, lipstick, boobs, this and that… Sometimes, I don’t even know who I am.
We are just an image in this glamour world. No one knows the trauma or the pain, the tears that are shed behind the scenes. The real life pain, the decisions we have to make as humans, we get to see that in the film. I like that a lot.
I love documentaries; I like films that are based on true story and events.
Could you connect to Sangeeta’s life?
Well, I never had an affair with a married man (laughs out loud). At least not yet… who knows what will happen later!
Are you open to having an affair with a married man?
No, I could never do that.
I am not judging anyone, but if you have had relationship that went bad because someone was cheating on you, you make a vow that you will never do that to anyone else, no matter what happens.
I am very loyal with my decision on how I want to live my life and my morals and values for myself. I don’t care about anyone else.
I have been in love and I understand how love works… you go crazy, oh yeah, you are crazy (suddenly she erupts into laughter and starts acting and crying).
Love is blind, so blind. Your friends will tell you, ‘Eww, how are you dating him? You are blind.’ But you won’t listen.
Ten years, after 20 kids, you wake up one morning and start crying aloud, ‘Oh my God! How did I land with him? So you see, love is actually blind.’
You are so hilarious!
I am a natural comedian, but this is a serious film guys.
Listen, I am alone and I have to make myself laugh. If I don’t, I will cry all the time.
You are alone?
Yes, I live alone. I work very hard. So it is just work and home everyday.
Do you enjoy this kind of life?
I am going to fix that though. (She picks up her bottle of water) This is tequila by the way! (Laughs and takes a sip) Life is so much better (now).
But, really, life is hard. Living like this is not worth it, I will tell you that much.
So do you miss home (Queens, New York)?
Yesssss… very much!
But it is okay. You only get certain chances in life once and you want to make the best of it.
Take this film for example. When I looked at Azhar’s life and the trauma and learnt about everything that happened… it is such an interesting journey. You hope that you grow and learn from the process and the things that you have gone through.
You locked lips with the serial kisser….
Right after I signed the contract, I came to know he was a serial kisser.
We were shooting for the song Bol do na zara which now I know means, ‘Say what you want to say’… How can I say what I want to say if my lips are always stuck with his?
I had no chance to speak. Where the hell did my lips go? For the whole film I was stuck to his mouth.
I thought it was a joke and I asked them, “Are you guys playing a prank on me? I am going to charge extra for kissing.” I had to do it so many times. They’d cut (the scene) and I would ask “What’s wrong?” and they would say “Camera, camera.” They were lying to me at one point and I got very angry, I was upset…
If you see the film, you will know there must have been lot of love and lust happening (between Azhar and Sangeeta). So I got chewed for the film. I had to do what I had to do; it’s part of my job to make it happen (laughs).
Was it difficult being a real person on screen for the first time?
Since I never met the person and just saw the videos and films, I didn’t really think too much about it. I only could do the best with what I was given and what I have.
Why didn’t you meet Sangeeta?
No chance. I think it didn’t work out. Everyone seems to have met with everyone except me (Prachi met Azhar’s wife Naureen and Azhar was there to help Emraan Hashmi).
Why couldn’t you meet? Was she unhappy that this film was being made?
I don’t know. I never bothered (about it) because I was walking from one film to another. After this, I went on to do Housefull 3.
Now everybody is scaring me by saying, ‘You will be compared.’ First, I didn’t care and now you make me worry.
It is true everyone will compare (Sangeeta and Nargis). All I can hope for is that you get so engrossed in the story when you watch the film and get distracted (from comparing Nargis and Sangeeta) and enjoy the journey of this man’s (Azhar’s) life.
I am just a piece of the journey; there are lot of other pieces too.
What do you like or dislike about your character, Sangeeta?
I don’t like dislike anything.
I don’t know her personally but, at least from the film, I like how she had so much class despite all the drama; how she seemed to have her head held high.
We have portrayed the story through Azhar’s accounts of what happened but I feel like she is very dignified woman and I am proud to have played her character. It was nice to get to know this story. I also like the loyalty she had. She stood by the person (Azhar). She seems like a very nice and kind person, not bitchy or evil.
How secure do you feel about your place in the industry? There are so many glamour divas in Bollywood.
I don’t consider myself a glamorous diva. If you get to know me, you will know I am quiet dorky and weird.
I pride myself on my personality and not my looks because, one day, I will be old and crusty, with a moustache, and someone is going to love me for my personality, right? So whoever is going to marry me is going to laugh till he dies.
I tell jokes all the time, I swear. Even when I would have a fight with my mother, I would make a joke or do something stupid and she would just laugh. My mother would hate it as she couldn’t be mad at me anymore and I would get out of a beating most of the time.
Do you plan to settle down anytime soon?
Women are so lucky right now. We can be independent, we can have a job, we can have a career, earn our own money. We can choose when want to settle down and when we want to have kids because, now, we can have children even when we are older.
We should take advantage of this and live our lives fully and do everything we can to further our education and our career. We should love ourselves and build ourselves before we think of settling down with a dude and being in the f***g kitchen because I ain’t cooking no rotis.
You said rotis. Does that mean you will marry an Indian?
Even if I do, I will have to take Indian cooking classes because Indian cuisine is my favourite cuisine.
So, when I go back home to America or New Zealand or Australia or wherever I may live, I will be make rotis but only for myself (laughs).
Are you really dating Uday Chopra?
Am I really dating?
Uday Chopra will be a part of my life forever. He is most amazing human being I have ever met in my life, not only just in India but around the world.
His friends are lucky to have him in their life.
Are you single?
I am single but don’t try to ask me out on a date. People in this country don’t know anything about dating.
No one ever took me out on a date. People are like, “I will pass by your house… can I come over?” I am like, “No, you cannot. I don’t even know you.”
Are you saying that Indian men are bad at dating?
I don’t know. I am just putting it out there.
What is the worst pick-up line you have ever come across?
People try to be friendly and say, “Hey, I will pass by your house.” Why would you pass by my house? Like why? What would you do at my house? You are not going to mess inside my house.
So what do you prefer?
I am classy. Take me out for a nice dinner.
I am old school. Hold the door for me. Pull out my chair. You better stand and wait for me to sit before you sit your a**e down.
Guys don’t do that anymore. Come meet my friends back home. They are classy.
Your next film, Housefull 3, is a comedy. Considering you are such a comic in real life, did you have fun on the sets?
It is fun but I am very situational; it depends on the scenario. Your energy is also very fun, right? Then I feel comfortable but, sometimes, I don’t say anything.
The comedy in Housefull 3 is relatable and situational. I like this Housefull better than the earlier two because I feel it has more of a story and flow than just random, weird craziness. I could be wrong, you decide. But it was fun and I enjoyed it.
And the people I worked with are as funny, if not much funnier, than me; it was always laughter on the sets. In Azhar, I was always crying, sad and emotional.
How do you unwind?
I meditate and I paint, I was an arts student and I minored in psychology.
I wanted to do something with art therapy for old people or young, disabled kids but I became this (an actress).
I don’t go out much; I like to be with myself. I am bit weird.
Any projects in Hollywood?
No, nothing. I did get invites for television shows and movies but (I have) no time. I am tied up here.
America is my home so I will move back there (at some point). My family and friends are there so, if I am living there, I should have a job there.
What are your other projects apart from Azhar and Housefull 3?
A cameo in Dishoom and the lead role in Banjo.