Nargis Fakhri’s acting career has got a fresh lease of life with Madras Cafe. In this interview, the US-born actress talks about the culture shock of working in her debut Bollywood film Rockstar and the disappointment that followed.
US-born Nargis Fakhri, whose poised confident screen presence and a deep understanding of her role in Shoojit Sircar's Madras Cafe is winning praise for her, says she was "clueless" after her Bollywood debut "Rockstar".
The period of exile after her 2011 debut was confusing for the actress. Filmmaker Imtiaz Ali, actor Ranbir Kapoor and the rest of the Rockstar team had taken Nargis under their wings. But after the release, when she and performance were rejected, Nargis found herself isolated and disoriented in a city and profession she knew nothing about.
"I was clueless," she said.
"It was a disappointing time for me. I couldn't share it with my mother. Because she would've just ordered me home. But there was no dearth of work. I was getting these endorsements, shooting magazine covers. But very frankly, 'Rockstar' was too vast an experience and culturally too distanced from where I come from, for me to handle," said Nargis Fakhri, who was born in New York.
"I didn't understand the culture or the milieu. Just imagine - if tomorrow you're offered the main lead in a big Chinese film where they tell you, you are the ideal choice. That's exactly how I felt when I was did 'Rockstar'," she added.
Nevertheless, the deglamourised role of a war correspondent in the recently released John Abraham-starrer "Madras Cafe" fitted Nargis' personality, she believes.
"I play a journalist. And I was required to speak only in English. My Hindi is still rusty. But at least now I understand Hindi, so when John Abraham speaks to me I am not lost.
"And I got to speak in my voice in 'Madras Cafe'. So it's one consistent performance visually and vocally. Speaking in someone else's voice in 'Rockstar' was very confusing for my performance. I should've insisted on using my own voice. I guess I am not the kind of who girl who throws a tantrum to get her away," she said.
What Nargis enjoyed most in "Madras Cafe" was her role's austere minimalist approach.
"The girl I play is a no-nonsense professional. I didn't have to wear heavy makeup and false eyelashes. I was required to behave as naturally as possible," she added.
The movie, based on the Sri Lankan civil war, released Aug 23.