With her effervescent avatar and funky dance moves, Jacqueline Fernandez has won the hearts of film buffs. The Sri Lankan beauty, who forayed into Bollywood seven years ago with 'Aladin', has steadily worked her way to emerge as one of the leading actresses in the Hindi film industry.
The star, who has already had two releases this year, is gearing up for her next, 'A Flying Jatt (AFJ)'. Over a telephonic interview, she tells BT why she enjoyed playing a plain Jane in this superhero flick and how she is hugely inspired by Akshay Kumar when it comes to time management. Excerpts...
What prompted you to do a superhero film?
I always wanted to work with Remo D'souza. After 'ABCD' and 'ABCD 2', I was keen that he should direct me. I knew he was making 'AFJ' with Tiger Shroff. When he asked me to be a part of the film, I said yes immediately.
Later, he gave me a narration and I was hooked from the first line itself. When he explained my character, I realised I have never played something like this on screen. People have seen that side of me in real life — this cheerful, positive, happy and over-enthusiastic person. But no one has seen it on celluloid. I was excited to be a part of this film and just got lucky that my character itself was so lovable.
Were you apprehensive that the focus would be on Tiger?
When I signed 'AFJ', I was aware that this was a superhero film. I wanted to be a part of it as such movies rarely come by. Also, it was a huge thing for me to step into this fantasy, magical world of superheroes, which is one of my favourite genres. As a kid, I looked forward to superhero movies.
Who is your favourite superhero?
I love Wonder Woman and Catwoman. Spider-Man was a big phenomenon when I was growing up. I remember watching Jane (Mary Jane Watson), the girl whom he was in love with, and feeling that despite her being so simple, he was deeply in love with her. He could have got anyone as he was a superhero but he wanted to be with her. And I found that so endearing. I think that made him a real superhero and that was the similarity I felt with 'AFJ', too. The fact that Tiger loves my character and chooses her makes him a bigger superhero.
Which superhero would you love to play on screen? And what is that one quality that you would want to have?
I want to play Wonder Woman as she devoted herself to saving the world and helping the people. Nowadays, a lot of people are under stress due to time constraints. So, I would love to give them the gift of time.
Do you think that Bollywood is ready for a superwoman film?
Hopefully soon. After working with Remo, I think he would be apt to make a film on a superwoman. He understands the genre well.
Given that Tiger and you love dance and fitness, it won't be wrong to presume that you bonded over these two things...
Exactly (laughs). I was impressed by the fact that he knows so much about nutrition and fitness. He dedicates a lot of time and energy to these two things as he is passionate about them. I have always paid attention to my diet and fitness but after working with him, I have become even more conscious. I also realised that once you get to know him better, he can be extremely funny. He has a wry sense of humour.
Has there ever been any confusion on the set given that both you and Tiger's father share the same name — Jackie?
Oh yes, there were many. People used to ask Tiger if was difficult for him to do comedy in this film, and he would say that he drew a lot of inspiration from Jackie. I would always fall for it and presume he is talking about me but turns out he was referring to Jackie Chan (laughs). At times, I would react when people called out 'Jackie' on the set. But they quickly followed it up with a 'sir'. It was only then that I realised they weren't referring to me but Jackie Shroff. Having said that, I have worked with him once and I can say that the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. When you work with people like Jackie sir and Tiger, you fall in love with them. Tiger is fairly new but he has a lot of goodwill in the industry because of his father.
This year, you have had three releases and are judging a dance show on TV too. How did you manage it?
Akshay (Kumar) is one of my biggest inspirations. A lot of people wonder how he acts in four films every year and also spends time with his family. I always ask Akshay, 'How do you manage your time?' And he says, 'Listen, if you think it, you can do it. It's just a matter of knowing what the week is ahead of you and planning things well'. While promoting our last film, Housefull 3, I was impressed with his high energy level. I am always energetic but looking at him, I would feel more charged up. He has done so many films in his career but he promotes each one of them with the same love and enthusiasm. Priyanka (Chopra) has been another huge inspiration. She has managed to achieve a lot in the span of her career. When these people make the impossible possible, it gives you the confidence that you can do it, too.
Of late, you have appeared in a lot of dance numbers. Have you ever felt that you may be objectified in them?
I don't fear being objectified in dance numbers because I feel I can balance it with various things. I love dance and like to challenge myself when it comes to its diverse forms. I try to get the best out of my dancing experience. But I also realise that my fans should see a different side of me.
Having explored action and comedy genres, what kind of roles would you like to play in the future?
I want to do either a super romantic film or a period film.