"Bollywood Has Made Me More Negative and Cynical Than My Past in Queens Has"

A no-holds-barred interview with the straight-shooter, Nargis Fakhri

Saumyaa Vohra

If there's one thing Nargis Fakhri ain't, it's a shrinking violet. We went in for an interview and came out a 100% convinced she needs her own sitcom—stat!

By Saumyaa Vohra; Photographs by Rohan Shrestha; Styling by Amandeep Kaur


"No one Makes It Out of There, and I Did"

"Growing up in Queens (New York) shaped me in ways that still stick. You grow up poor; you learn to value money fiercely. You see so much sh*t on the streets, you learn to fend for yourself, you develop an instinct. But you'd be surprised at how giving poor folk are—if they've got a single egg, they'll cook it and split it in half with someone else. That's sharing on the streets. You'd also see some pretty gruesome stuff. When women used to fight, there'd be a trail of hair left on the street (the girls from my 'hood' were pretty sold on hair extensions and wigs). It could get crazy as hell. But no one really makes it out of there, and I did, and that's a big deal. I don't miss anything at all about it, but strangely enough, it's -w. This life of film glamour looks all glossy on the outside, but my friends know how much I envy their stable lives, jobs, and families—that I want what they've got."

"God Bless the Guy Who Invented Namaste""Coming to India—total culture shock! At first, the language just sounded like 'bada bada bada'. I didn't know what the f*ck I was saying! Rockstar was an absolute impulse move—and I think I did a bang-up job! I'd like to see someone else go to China, learn Chinese (and acting!) from scratch and be the female protagonist of the film. Anyone? Anyone? That's what I thought. There are still things I haven't come to terms with—I've developed wicked OCD in my time here; I don't even shake hands with people! God bless the guy who invented namaste! People get acid reflex because they don't wash their hands enough, and they're all, 'Hey, just have some Pudin Hara!'. Everyone thinks I'm overreacting, but I'm not! Plus, there's all this pressure about marriage! Indian parents think marriage is the ultimate goal and they just push their kids into marrying way too young—sometimes, to people they don't even know! I find this whole race to the altar very strange."

"Why Can't I Say 'Vagina'?""Marriage is such a biggie box to check, but sex is never up for open discussion. I mean, India's so supremely over-populated. Where are all the babies coming from?! Maybe if we talked about it, they'd stop popping out all the time! People have such a strong reaction to the word 'vagina', I've been told I can't say it! If we talked about sex—we'd regularise it. If, say, people walked around naked all the time, it wouldn't be so taboo (like homeless children walking around naked at Bombay signals—which to me was extremely traumatic, but it doesn't bother other people because they see it every day). The mammoth change needs to happen in the media—films, magazines, and TV channels. Everyone's having sex, so why table the topic?"

"I Hate Painting My Face"

"There's always a lot of pressure to look good—and it's harder for me, who loathes the whole hair-and-make-up thing (people fussing with your face and hair when it already looks fine is as bad as the sound of nails scraping against a blackboard! Is that making you cringe? Well, now you know how I feel). I feel like a lot of that is created by the corporate industry—we're all terribly insecure, and they make products that feed off of that to make us buy more things.

Criticism still comes thick and often, but I cut myself slack. People said 'Oh, horrible first film', and now they're like, 'Oh, look! She can act'. Um, hello, people? I can finally understand what you're saying! It ain't Chinese anymore! Faking confidence helps—the more confident you are, the more people think you're amazing. So you could suck, but if you're confident, nobody will notice.

Then there was the challenge of breaking into Bollywood at a later age. People are coming in so young now, but isn't it really weird when you make an 18-year-old girl romance a 50-year-old guy?!"

"His Life Is Not Your Life"

"Currently, I'm mostly seeing myself—but when I find the guy I want to be with, first: I need him to have a brain. Next: a burning desire to travel—I dumped someone once because he didn't travel enough! He was great otherwise; we lived together, we had a dog, the whole shebang—but he travelled twice in four years! If someone doesn't want to do what I want—no bueno. We're still great friends, though. I'm friends with all my exes. They all still love me, and would totally marry me in a minute (and I'm just sitting here laughing at them).

I think the reason my relationships have managed to become healthy friendships is because I try not to make the mistake a lot of girls make—making hislife your life. They tend to sub their boyfriend's life and interests in for their own. But don't do that! He's not your son, he doesn't need to be the centre of your universe! And if it doesn't work out, there's like one billion people in this country—go nuts!"

"I Wanna Be a Superhero""The greatest career decision of my life just released—Spy—and my God, I loved it; from the way people work in Hollywood (like clockwork! Five minutes late, and I started getting calls), to the fact that I got to do most of my own stunts (except the wildly dangerous ones). I adore fighting—I'd love to play a superhero or something that just lets me kick everyone's *ss! I much prefer fighting to sexy roles—I get crazy giggly! When people say stuff like 'But you look so sexy,' my reaction is 'Computer error! God made a mistake!' Even my dancing in films, which people say is sexy, was Greek to me when I first came here. Choreographed routines ain't nothin' like dancing at a club, that's for sure!

The film thing has been a great ride, but after this, I want to travel, and maybe even have my own bed-and-breakfast someday. Honestly, who knows what I'll be when I grow up?"


1. The most ridiculous thing I've ever left the house in is my PJ's. All day, erryday.

2. My standard selfie face is funny face/ smile/ duck face

3. The most back-handed compliment I've ever received is "Oh, you're so sexy, but I'm not attracted to you ,'cuz you're my bro!"

4. It really freaks me out when people cough or sneeze without covering their mouth . Yuck!

5. If I was a dessert, I'd be… a hot fudge brownie. And I'd eat myself (that sounds dirty).

6. I need a separate closet for my shoes that my stylist made me buy, but I don't wear 'em!

7. If I could party with a pop icon, it'd be…Rihanna. Ooh, or Lady Gaga!

8. I'm currently obsessed with...this show called Brain Games.

Hair & Make-Up: Subhash Vagal; Assisted By: Sanjana Ghai

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