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Jacqueline Fernandez: It’s a challenge to stay positive amidst so much judgement, criticism and pres

Jacqueline Fernandez

Jackie, as she is fondly called, has oodles of style, spunk and most of all, super attitude. She is well aware of her strengths and she has the gumption to go all out to fix her weaknesses. The gal, who is a star on social media too, tells us that the one thing that keeps her going is "living in a positive bubble." In an industry that's so unpredictable and often illusory, too, that's no mean feat. In a conversation with BT, ahead of the release of 'Judwaa 2' directed by David Dhawan, Jacqueline Fernandez talks about how she has more guts to pull off a film on her own now and the fact that today, the audience wants to see something more than all things good-looking on screen. Excerpts...

'Judwaa 2' must be a coveted film for you, given the cult-comedy status the original enjoys? After 'Kick', I've not been nervous about a film till now. This is a big project, much anticipated from its inception. Stepping into Karisma Kapoor's shoes is an added pressure and on top of that, I am working with David (Dhawan) sir, who has directed some of the most prolific actors and is the undoubted king of comedy in Bollywood. I hope Karisma likes what I have done, though my role is a departure from the original. Also, this is my second film with Varun (Dhawan) after 'Dishoom'. He's one of my favourite co-stars; his enthusiasm and energy is infectious.

In less than a decade, you've worked with actors ranging from Varun Dhawan to Salman Khan. Is it difficult to match your sensibilities with actors across different age brackets? I started right on top with Mr Amitabh Bachchan in 'Aladin'. Back then, I didn't even understand the seriousness of what I was doing. Watching him, I realised that for an actor, passion is above everything else. If you look at the successful actors in our industry, you'll notice that they're all deeply passionate about cinema — be it Mr Bachchan, Salman or Akshay (Kumar). They're as driven as some of my contemporaries like Tiger (Shroff), Sidharth (Malhotra) and Varun, though they're 20 years ahead. It's a challenge to keep your passion alive and stay positive in an industry amidst so much judgement, criticism and pressure. There are days when I want to sympathise with those around me, who are going through a tough time. It's a lot easier to just opt out of this space. Akshay once told me, 'I've had so many flops, but I still work. It's my love for cinema that brings goodwill and keeps me going.' People say that I'm a positive person, but I'd like them to meet Akshay.

Today, the industry is at an interesting stage, where the biggest actors want their repertoire to boast of all-out commercial films as well as movies that don't fit into the typical Bollywood formula. How do you perceive this transition? From the time I entered the industry, I've actually seen the game and its rules change — even the advice people give me is different, today. When I came here, I was told, 'Workout, look good, dress well and you will be fine here.' Today, you better act because the audience doesn't care if you're a star or not. They want to be entertained, enlightened or inspired. If you don't evoke any of these emotions, you will be rejected.

There is this perception that commercial film heroines are easier to replace as opposed to those in content-driven cinema. Your take? As an artiste, you have to make yourself irreplaceable. There is a lot that goes into commercial cinema and to make yourself irreplaceable in that space is not easy. People take commercial films for granted because everything is made to look so simple. But, it's not effortless — it's a 24-hour job, and it takes a lot to make things work. By saying that, I'm not taking away from the work that actresses in the other spaces are doing.

Many of your contemporaries are playing author-backed roles written specifically for them. Are you looking at such roles, too? In the beginning, I never had the guts to even think of doing a film where the onus was entirely on me. The biggest obstacle was my inability to speak Hindi fluently and also, I wasn't a trained actor. However, over the last couple of years, I've worked with some brilliant actors and filmmakers, and I feel a lot more confident now. It's easy to point a finger and question why I am not doing this or that. As much as I might want to get there, such roles also need to come to me. I can't snap a finger and expect them to be offered to me. I would've loved to do 'NH10' and 'Queen', but I can't force filmmakers to cast me. Having said that, if such roles come my way, I should also be able to put my faith in them. Hopefully, I will get there soon.

Nargis Fakhri once said that she might seem like a misfit in certain roles because she's not fluent in Hindi. Did you ever feel that way? No, I disagree with that thought. If you take the privilege to call yourself an actor, you have to have the ability to convince others with your performance. It doesn't matter if I play a rich girl, poor person or even a man. You cannot blame your looks or the language because the audience hasn't come to see you; it's the character that matters to them. Earlier in the conversation, you spoke about being judged and scrutinised. Lately, your social media accounts have also been closely watched. The fact that you unfollowed Alia Bhatt created quite a stir. Given that you both are contemporaries, how did you deal with it? Scrutiny and gossip are common in our line of work, you can't resist or fight it. I've had my fair share of reported catfights and link-ups, too. Frankly, I don't care because I know what is true and what's not. Yes, I do get irked when my relationship with my co-stars gets jeopardised for no fault of mine. That's when I pick up the phone, speak to them and rectify matters because there is nothing worse than being blamed for what you didn't do. I won't sacrifice my relationship with my co-stars, as I put them before everything. So, even recently when things were written about, I spoke to the people concerned. It's sexist to think that actresses have nothing better to do other than fight with heroines and date co-stars. It's so funny that the same faction speaks of feminism. However, the only thing we can do as individuals is, live in our own positive bubbles.


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