MUMBAI—It was way back in 2009 that this Sri Lankan beauty made her Hindi debut. From a jinx in her two early films to becoming a lucky element of hit films like “Murder 2,” “Housefull 2,” “Race 2” and “Kick,” Jacqueline Fernandez has indeed come a long way. The attention she has garnered in the film industry goes beyond being stamped just as a pretty face.
Surprisingly, unlike so many non-Indian and half-Indian actresses, she is decent at spoken Hindi, especially in her last lot of films like “Brothers,” “Dishoom,” “A Flying Jatt” and “Housefull 3.” Even in the “Housefull” franchise, she has seen amazing growth – from a cameo in the first film to John Abraham’s leading lady in the second to franchise supremo Akshay Kumar’s heroine in the third.
Jacqueline is now set for two big films within a few weeks – “A Gentleman: Sundar, Susheel, Risky” and “Judwaa 2” wherein she steps into another popular franchise. India-West met the chirpy, guffaw-prone actor at Mehboob Studios for a quick chat.
Excerpts from an interview:
Q: The film is an action drama. Are you also doing some of it?
A: I am doing a little bit of it, as my character needs to after being put in a situation. But what is upsetting to me is that there has been no full-fledged action role for me despite so many action movies in my career. I hope that happens and that I can do an action without a body-double!
Q: But you have mastered pole-dancing here in the song “Chandralekha.”
A: Well, we were in Miami when Raj & DK, my directors, told me that we had to shoot an office party sequence with a song. And I thought: one more party song… Ugh! Though I enjoy dancing, I then thought about how it could be different. I looked around and got this idea of pole-dancing and told Raj & DK, and they were like “OK, sure!” and incorporated the idea.
Having said that, pole-dancing is not easy, but now I think that it is an amazing dance form and I have made it a part of my fitness regime. I have got a pole installed in my gym, and it is fun to do.
Q: You have worked with Abbas-Mustan, and now you have done a film with Raj & DK. How would you compare the two duos?
A: Both pairs are very quiet, soft-spoken people who never get angry or hassled. Raj & DK talk a little more, I guess, among the four. Abbas-Mustan are very specific about their genres, but Raj & DK are quirkier, good at action comedies and whacky, as “Go Goa Gone” shows.
I studied up their films before working with them, and I loved the weird things they showed so well in “Go Goa Gone,” like Saif Ali Khan as this Russian. They can also do drama well.
Q: What were their divisions of work within the film?
A: There was nothing like that – both operated as a single person. Like they would say “Cut!” together! Once in a while, we would have one of them looking after something and the other looking into another thing alone.
Q: What about your Hollywood film and the film you did back home in Sri Lanka? Will they be releasing in India?
A: The Hollywood film will come later this year, but my film back home is quite an arty film, based on a famous story in Sri Lanka, and that is unlikely to be released in India. We have shot it in English, incidentally.
Q: What if you were offered an art film in India?
A: I have never been offered offbeat films here. I love movies like “Parched” and “Filmistaan.” Commercial films are amazing, and I love them! It is important to entertain people, and it is important to make money, but I would really love to do a low-budget offbeat film for my personal space.
Q: How much do you relate to Kavya, your character in this film?
A: I relate to her a lot, though she works in an office in Miami and is pretty much an NRI with a 9 to 5 job. But when it comes to it, she can face any situation. She finds the staid Gaurav boring and likes to be in the company of Rishi, the aggressive look-alike of Gaurav. She is into fast cars and fun stuff and does all the cool things.
Q: How adventurous are you as a person?
A: I relate to Kavya because I too have always been fearless and adventurous. From a young age, I have been an outdoors person. After school, I would play football, roam the streets with my friends, be adventurous enough to do so many dangerous things, and would go exploring – even deserted houses to look for ghosts! Nothing would scare my friends and me, and that’s how Kavya is.
Q: So in real life, unlike Kavya, what kind of husband would you prefer? Gaurav or Rishi?
A: Rishi is twisted, unpredictable and mysterious. In my heart side of mine, there is excitement about such crazy people. But when it comes to settling down, I would also prefer someone homely like Gaurav, and the best thing is that he likes to cook!
So I guess a balance would work best, you know!
Q: Was this the factor that made you green-light this role?
A: I was most excited about Raj & DK. I have loved their aesthetics; they are funny and different as I said, and they can extract a lot from us actors. They like a real tone, not the larger-than-life or hammy kind of performance. On day one, I was playing it very loud as I was habituated to that style, but they told me to tone it down, and I said to myself, “Okay, they want things differently.”
Q: “Murder 2,” “Housefull 2,” and “Housefull 3,” “Race 2” and now “Judwaa 2.” You are someone chosen for sequels. How was it working on “Judwaa 2?” Again you are a part of both double-role films – Sidharth’s “A Gentleman” and Varun’s “Judwaa 2.”
A: Oh, “Judwaa 2” was amazing. Actually, it did not hit me immediately because “Judwaa” was made before my time. I was not well-versed with the 1990s and never understood the rage that the original film was. The minute we were shooting the film, it was such a crazy rollercoaster, and they all re-created the ’90s energy. By the time, I was shooting “Oonchi Hai Building,” the sound gave me goosebumps, as did the thought that the song too was so relevant even today. And when Salman came on sets, he and the atmosphere got so emotional. That’s how I realized how big “Judwaa” was and even is today. As for my heroes, Sidharth has done so well in both roles, and Varun is spectacular.
Q: You speak better Hindi than even some actresses who are Indian or NRIs. What is the secret? The number of films you have done or some special efforts?
A (Laughs): Thank you! From last year, I made a conscious effort to speak in Hindi. Last year, my presence on “Jhalakk Dikhhlaa Jaa” helped. I was reading and writing Hindi always, studying it all the time. But after last year, talking in Hindi became easier, and I realized that making a few mistakes is fine, so I developed confidence.