“I stay away from energy vampires,”

Says Jacqueline Fernandez, who holds the record of being the first ever Bollywood celebrity to be featured on the bill-boards of Saudi Arabia. Currently, her parents ‘desperately’ want her to move to Bahrain and stay with them, amid the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in India but she is keen on staying back in Mumbai. Jacqueline was last seen on screen in Mrs Serial Killer, and in a special song appearance in Salman’s Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai.

Manju Ramanan

You have created a record of sorts?

Yes! I am so excited. But when I shot the campaign with Splash, I knew they would make it larger than life. One fine day Raza Beig called me with the news that I was the first female celebrity to be on the billboards of Saudi Arabia. I am thrilled because I grew up in the Arab world – in Bahrain. I was educated in the Middle East though my origins are Sri Lankan. It is a huge validation for women of the Middle East and for women in Bollywood. I am dying to see the bill-board. Now I am told it is outside the airport too. I will be making that trip very soon.

 What are your childhood memories in Bahrain?

For me I will affiliate myself very much with the Arab world. I come from a Srilankan – Malyasian household but I was raised in the Middle East. I am connected to it and I think it has taught me a great deal. They are extremely giving people and it was great to see this side of the world. I still own a locket that has Jacqueline in Arabic. It is my memorabilia – most people notice it.

You have also associated with Huda Kattan?

Me and Huda have done eye lashes together and I am actually wearing them. A design created by her and me together. I wanted something that is feminine and flirty but not too much but with a touch of glamour with a statement. That is part of my make-up routine. Shaan and me feel incomplete without my lashes. It is funny but it epitomizes being in Bollywood and that flirtatiousness you get with being in front of the camera.

How was it working with Salman Khan?

I have worked on two films with him and then the tour. I have known him from the beginning of my career and he motivates to be a better version of myself. He can really energise and motivate you. He works very passionately and very hard and has immense respect for the work he does. That’s why the best work happens. He has huge and immense respect for the Hindi film industry and the work he does.

You are starring with him again in Kick 2?

Kick 2 is going on floors next year. It is my third film with him. It is also the franchise that launched me in a big way and I also like working with a team that created such a great blockbuster together.

The last time I met you, you told me that your meditation class and Hindi class are related?

Maybe I was meditating while telling you that! (Laughs). I realise the importance of meditation this year. Yes, and my Hindi is improving. But I also feel that anything that challenges you is also meditative like learning a dialect, a poem in Hindi. Yes, these two things keep me calm.

How do you manage your lows?

It is important to not hold too much of anything negative. It is good to feel a feeling for that moment and then discard it. If it upsets me I do tell myself that I am not really happy now, or I am grumpy. I will be upset for 5 minutes and snap out of it. Don’t hold on to anything for too long because one day things will explode.

How do you keep your inner space protected?

It is very important to be around the people who are not energy vampires. It is tough in our line but be aware of them and understand how to recuperate yourself. Work around those who uplift your spirits and know and respect your worth and who keep you in good humour.

What about your restaurant chain?

Yes, I have one at the Shangri-La in Colombo. I had plans to start a Thai restaurant in India but those plans changed. Now I want to bring Sri Lankan food to India.

What about your future films ?

Bhoot Police is towards the end of last year, with Saif Ali Khan, Arjun Kapoor and Yami Gautam. Ram Setu just begun filming. Then, there is Rohit Shetty’s Cirkus and another Akshay-starrer, Bachchan Pandey, in the pipeline.



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