I regret keeping quiet about Uday Chopra, I should have shouted from the mountain tops about our relationship: Nargis Fakhri


Nargis Fakhri has been living in the US all through the pandemic and while she misses the arc lights and they miss her back, the stalemate refuses to end. She’s been catching up with old friends Ileana D’Cruz and Huma Qureshi on stray trips to the States. And the occasional ‘wassup’ message on the gram with Varun Dhawan, too. Bollywood can’t forget about her because her enchanting beauty and exotic charisma were truly unique. Even those who criticized her acting chops in her debut ‘Rockstar’ conceded to the fact that her very sight was mesmerizing. In this week’s Big Interview, Nargis talks to ETimes about her travails in Bollywood, relationships, friendships and more. Read on for a no-holds-barred conversation...
You will complete a decade in Bollywood this year in November. How do you look back at your journey so far?
It's been a tumultuous 10 years but it’s been an amazing journey. I look back at the journey with gratitude.
Would you like to recall the story of how you came on board for your debut film ‘Rockstar’?
That’s a long story, but the short version is that I was sent an email about an audition. I really believe it was destiny that this happened to me. I wasn’t even living in India and had never been there. From what I heard, Imtiaz saw an ad for a jewelry campaign with me in it, which I had shot while living in Greece. And I assume he got my info from the company and the rest is history. The longer version is way more interesting, but I probably should put that in a book.
Facing the camera for the first time was actually easy for me since I have a modeling background and have done tons of TV commercials before getting into films. Also, Imtiaz Ali really knows how to make his actors feel comfortable in front of the camera. He is an amazing director.
You got along really well with Ranbir Kapoor and even Neetu Kapoor during the film. Tell us something about your bond with them?
To this day, I am grateful to have worked with Ranbir as my first co-star. He is a fantastic actor and easy to work with. Also getting to know his mom was a blessing as she was very sweet to me. It was really comforting to have her in my life at that time as I was all alone in India.
How was it working under Imtiaz Ali’s guidance?
It was a blessing to work with Imtiaz on my first film. He is one of the best directors I have worked with. He really knows how to direct his actors. He has this gift, which allows him to get into your head and help you embody the character. I do not know how he does it but he creates such an intense and real atmosphere for the actors to perform in. His techniques are supportive and that really helped someone like me to be able to perform. I would love to work with him on something again.
How do you look back at the reactions to the film and your performance?
I am sure most people’s reaction to the film was great but I received a bit of negative press. Honestly people loved the film and I have many fans who, to date, tell me how much they loved me as Heer in ‘Rockstar’. It makes me happy to know that I was a part of a film that touched the hearts of many.
Coming from a non-film background, especially from a different country, how difficult was it to fit into the industry? Tell us something about your initial days.
There are so many stories. It was extremely difficult and I faced many obstacles. Thank goodness for my agency who helped me navigate things. Besides intense workshops in Hindi and dance classes and tons of shoots and meetings, there were also times I encountered humans that behave in unprofessional ways. That made it difficult to feel safe at times. It was hard to fit in and I actually don't think I ever did "fit" in. It was overwhelming, I had to work harder than most because I did not come from a background in film and I came from an entirely different culture. But with all that said I am grateful that I got to experience many amazing things and meet amazing people while in the industry.
Do you have any friends from the industry who you are still in touch with and get together whenever you are in the country?
I keep in touch with Varun (Dhawan), Ileana (D’Cruz) and Huma (Qureshi) but mostly through Instagram. Recently when I was in Texas, I had lunch with Ileana. When Huma was in LA we hiked together and had lunch, too.
A career in the glamour industry, was that a natural choice for you?
Growing up everyone would always say I look like a model and would tell me I should get into modeling and so I did. My main reason was I wanted to travel the world and I knew models got to travel a lot. Modeling didn't come naturally to me, I had to work at it and learn. People think it's super easy but it's not.
Any new actors you would love to work with?
To be honest I don't have a preference of who I want to work with, I just want to work with good hearted and talented people.
What kind of projects are you looking forward to?
There are many things I am involved with right now. At the forefront is Ilios.co which is a relationship app that matches people based on astrology and I am a co-founder. I've been investing in startups so that has been something new and exciting for me as well.
I also just finished a film that was shot in the USA with Anupam Kher and Neena Gupta and an amazing cast. I'm looking forward to working on another film later this year as well. Now that things are opening
up again I am looking forward to many more exciting projects.

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