Wearing a chain and python insert Paco Rabanne gown, Nargis Fakhri covers the Jan-Feb issue of Harper’s Bazaar which was shot in Maldives.
You can catch her shoot and feature inside.
Left: Paco Rabanne, Spring 2012
Right: Nargis Fakhri on Harper’s Bazaar Jan 2012
“When I met Imtiaz, his energy was so beautiful and CALM. I felt safe with him and ended up spending six hours with him.”
“I have no one SPECIAL in my life. It’s really lonely. My perfect DATE would be driving off somewhere nice. That would be romantic.”
The gritty New Yorker with a yen for travel returns to her roots and reveals her idea of a perfect date, her fondness for ‘Hinglish’, doing an action film, and kicking some serious butt in Harper’s BAZAAR January 2012 issue!
Nargis, of the never-ending legs, is just one movie old. Yet she combines the zest of a teenager with the wisdom of a sage. Here, in the sunny, paradaisical, and dramatic setting of the Maldives, she’s a water-baby, or perhaps a sea nymph. It all depends on how you approach her. This native New Yorker is gregarious, and talks a mile-a-minute, yet her street smarts have stood her in good stead. Behind the affable, smiling exterior, lie nerves of steel, and a sense of adventure. “At 13, I had this map and I’d wonder, ‘wow look at this place, New Zealand, it’s so far away! What’s over there?’” she says. That curiosity stuck inside her. So she figured that the best way a person could travel and make money was as a model. “People would tell me, ‘you should be a model, you’re so tall’ (she’s 5’9”).” But her Czech mum, who’d tell her stories of how beautiful Europe was, didn’t allow her. “She said, ‘no, no, no, you can’t do it, you’re 15!’ But later, I found my way out of New York City, into the big, bad world, and did it on my own, ending up here somehow,” says Nargis.
Today, she’s shooting in Asia’s smallest country, a scattering of white-sanded islands in pristine, aqua waters. “It’s awe-inspiring; I feel like I’m in the middle of nowhere,” she says. Her favourite part of the Four Seasons Maldives at Kuda Huraa is the children’s activities section. She’s also thrilled about shooting with turtles, something that the Bazaar team has captured in this shoot.
So the girl who “definitely” didn’t think she’d ever be a movie star, dove “head first” into things, living and working in Greece (where she was first spotted in a jewellery ad campaign), Singapore, Denmark, London, and Paris. Of her new-found fame and success in India, she admits that her friends say, “These things happen to Nargis.” She’s been told by her peers that she’s “an inspiration to them, that (she’s) shown there’s nothing to fear in life”.
Nargis is happy to say that she did it all on her own. “If at first you don’t succeed try, and try again. There was a time when none of the modelling agencies wanted me because they wanted blonde hair, blue eyes. Then I don’t know what happened; all of a sudden there was a rage for brown-haired, brown-eyed girls. I sent out my pictures; I said I’m with Ford in New York, and that I would love to come out. And so it just started happening from then on.”
And when somebody suggested she go to India to try her luck (her father hails from the subcontinent), she hesitated initially. “I had a weird feeling about it. India eventually ended up sucking me in (laughs),” she says. She got an email out of nowhere asking her to come to India for a film audition, though she was living in Singapore at the time. After an exchange of emails, she was told that the director (Imtiaz Ali) still wanted to meet her, this time in Prague. “I thought it was really funny because my mom’s from Prague.” Nargis first googled Imtiaz to know if he was “legit”. “I was very skeptical, but when I met this man, his energy was so beautiful and calm. I felt very safe with him and I ended up spending six hours with him.” Imtiaz told her the story of Rockstar, and Nargis just “fell in love with it”. She grabbed the opportunity to come to India (“What have I got to lose?”). Plus, this gave her the chance to discover her father’s land: “This was the closest I’d ever get to knowing him,” she says. Of her move to India, she says she got to learn a new language. “I love people, cultures, food—everything ‘new’.”
On working with Imtiaz Ali, Nargis says, “Since I’ve never acted before, nor done a movie, it’s hard for me to compare him with any other director. But he took this girl out of nowhere, and I don’t know how I am as an actor. I have gotten both compliments and criticism from people, but I don’t have that (film) background and was thrown into this new art form. To me, he is a really good director, and knew exactly how to communicate with me, what I needed to do to perform. He is a special and amazing person.”
The commercially successful Rockstar evoked strong reactions from audiences. With its art-house treatment, catchy musical score, and Ranbir Kapoor’s standout performance, Nargis says of her launch film, “I was in the moment and doing the best I could do with my Hindi. Once it was over, and I watched the film, I saw the things I could have changed: my quirkiness, my body language, and facial expressions. I loved the story; I loved the way it came out. It was a politically beautiful film.”
Asked if she remains in touch with Ranbir even after the movie, Nargis exclaims, “Um, no! He (Ranbir) is working on a film right now, but I phone Imtiaz and I keep in touch with him. I’m a very emotional person, and when I make friendships, it’s really important to me, so I personally would always make an effort to keep in touch even if the person became busy.” And what about her once-rumoured relationship with Ranbir? “He’s more like family!” she’s quick to say. “He’s my friend for sure. I spent a year and a half with just him and Imtiaz. Just imagine; I have no friends or family here. All I have are these two men or boys—to me they are like little boys! I hope that we keep in touch forever, at least on my part.”
Nargis Fakhri in Harper’s Bazaar Jan 2012
With Valentine’s around the corner, does Nargis have someone special in her life right now? “No! I have no one special in my life. I have my manager, who is a girl! I don’t have anybody, it’s really lonely,” she laughs. For her, the perfect date would be taking off somewhere together with a picnic basket laden with rosé and sandwiches. “I know it sounds cheesy; I am very cheesy…I’d drive off somewhere or take a bike ride somewhere nice. That would be really romantic.”
On her ideal partner, Nargis says she prefers a man who’s cultured and well-travelled, as that would make him more “open-minded”. “I would love it if the person was spiritual, because spiritual people tend to be a lot more compassionate.”
“I am excited about exploring the possibilities of the different characters that I can actually become. I would love to do something with martial arts, like a strong female character. There’s just so much I want to do, but an action flick would really be great. Not surprising, for the former Queens resident. “I did grow up in a very tough neighbourhood. I’ve travelled the world alone all by myself. Thanks to God, I’ve always been safe, and have a good instinct for feeling other people’s vibes. I trust my gut instinct and intuition, and I’ve been kept safe. I can definitely take care of myself and can kick some butt.”
Now that she’s firmly entrenched in the firmament of Bollywood, what’s next for her in terms of movies? “We’re getting so many scripts, and I’m actually in the middle of reading one now. I don’t have anything where I can say, yes, this is what I’m doing. There are a lot of things going on though, that’s for sure.”
Nargis Fakhri in Harper’s Bazaar Jan 2012
Photo Credit: Harper’s Bazaar