'I am not actively searching for a film; I leave it up to the universe.'
"I am a lover of horror films since I was a kid!" exclaims Nargis Fakhri.
The gorgeous actress is promoting her new film Amavas, a horror film with Sachiin Joshi, at a Mumbai venue, and she is in good spirits.
"I get really excited when a new one comes out; I watch them as soon as they release," she tells Rediff.com's Ronjita Kulkarni.
"For a long time, I was curious about how would it feel to work on a horror film set. Is it going to be as intense as when you are watching it? Is it as scary and heart-pounding as when viewers watch it?" she asks as her eyes widen.
Well, is it?
Nargis laughs out loud, and answers her own question: "It can be."
"It was heart-pounding at times. Like, when I am walking down a dark corridor, and it is lit in a certain way so it looks eerie, then the wind blows the curtain... All the people on the set just quietly disappear... The whole set up feels so real that your mind starts playing tricks on you and you start believing where you are," she says.
Nargis picks The Conjuring and The Haunting in Connecticut as her favourite films in this genre. And then, there are the classics, The Omen and The Exorcist.
"When I heard that there is a horror film and they are looking at having me in the cast, I got very excited!" she exclaims. "In all the years that I've been here, no one ever came to me with a horror film. So many different films, but never a horror film."
Bhushan Patel, who directed 1920: Evil Returns, Ragini MMS 2 and Alone, helms this project.
"The way he narrates a story, the passion he has for it, I thought wow, the script is amazing. I would love to be a part of it," she says.
Why hasn't she been doing movies lately? Her last was 2016's Banjo, opposite Riteish Deshmukh.
"Because I like other things," she says, and her smile is gone.
"Films were not my choice. God blessed me and gave me an opportunity to try something. If films come to me, I'll take them, but I will not say yes to everything," she replies.
Nargis has moved back to the US, and spends her time in Los Angeles and New York.
What has been keeping her busy?
"I am working with a foundation that gives grants to female entrepreneurs because I feel a lot of businesswomen are not getting the funding that they need," she says.
"I divide my time into films, the passion that I have and my family and friends. I want to do what makes me happy, and if I do some films, some charity, take care of my family and have fun with my friends, I am the happiest person in the world," she adds.
In between her interviews, Nargis likes to spend her time posing for pictures.
She is wearing a lovely summer dress, which accentuates her slim figure, and turns the corridor into a photo studio.
The pictures that she fusses about, strangely, do not turn up on her well-updated Instagram feed.
How does she like to spend her time when she is not making a movie?
"I just like to be at home and chill. And cook," she answers. "I like to go shopping for home decor. Go hiking. I don't travel so much anymore, but I like travelling."
Were Hindi films a part of her childhood?
Nargis's father was a Pakistani while her mother is from the Czech republic, but the actress is "very American". She was born and raised in New York.
"I didn't watch Hindi films growing up," she answers.
"The only thing I remember of my childhood was that my mum and dad were two immigrants who didn't speak English well. I can't imagine how they communicated with each other. I remember my mum learning to cook Pakistani food. I remember eating it when I was small. But then they divorced when I was probably around 10," she says.
"Then my knowledge of my father's culture disappeared. You grow up in a multicultural city and you just become what the city is like," she adds.
Nargis landed her first film audition in "my mum's country": Prague in the Czech republic.
She tells the story: "I got an e-mail to come audition for a film. I was very confused because I had never been to India. So they said, 'Oh, we thought you were a model in India'."
"I was living in Denmark then. They asked if I could fly to Prague and meet up, so I said yes. Imtiaz (Ali, director, Rockstar) told me the story. Such a beautiful story! They asked me if I would come to India and learn the language. I didn't respond right away. After a couple of weeks, I said okay."
Rockstar, which saw Nargis opposite Ranbir Kapoor, was a hit, and it gave her a career in Bollywood immediately.
But eight years and quite a few hits later, Nargis admits she still has no friends in the film industry.
"There is no one I can call and cry to," she says, adding that she is not in touch with Imtiaz Ali any more.
Besides Amavas, Nargis is working on Girish Malik's Torbaaz, opposite Sanjay Dutt.
"He (Sanjay Dutt) is super cool and chilled out, easy to work with. Laidback. I don't have the references that everyone else does. I only know him from the day I met him on set. I don't read backstories or anything about him. I only know that I have the same name as his mom. That's it," she says.
"It's very nice when you meet a human being and you know nothing about them. There are no preconceived notions or judgement. So in that sense, people can be very comfortable around you. They can be normal, and you can talk about normal things," she adds.
"I am not actively searching for a film; I leave it up to the universe."