A film can change you, turn you from an outsider into a superstar who everyone wants to be around. And if you have the right film to debut with, your entry into stardom is made all the more easier. The 2012 film Rockstar, that released 11 years ago on this very day, transformed a lot of lives through its story and impeccable music, but the person whose life it changed the most, and for the better, was none other than Nargis Fakhri. The actor, like her first film, is very much young at heart.
Cosmopolitan India, in an exclusive interview, caught up with Fakhri who spoke at length about what those early days of fame meant, dealing with it, tackling mental health issues, taking a break, and why she’s happy to be back in the bay.
Cosmopolitan India: You’ve completed more than 10 years in the industry, what have been the highs and lows?
Nargis Fakhri: There were so many highs and lows. The highs are when something you create does really well, and the final result is appreciated by others. It always feels really nice. The lows are the complete opposite when you work so hard and things don’t end up as you hoped. But then, I guess, you learn along the way. You can’t put too much emotion into it. You’re always really hoping that people love the work that you do.
Cosmopolitan India: You came from a foreign country, and had absolutely no film background, what was it like for you?
Nargis Fakhri: I didn’t really think that I’m a small fish in a big pond. I was really protected by my team and just focused on Rockstar, just enjoying India, and learning something new. It was actually quite a lot of fun for me because I love to travel and meet new people. The early days were really wonderful. After Rockstar released, things were very different for me as I’d never experienced fame. So that was something that shocked me. I didn’t understand how to handle that. It’s interesting for anyone who’s not known and then all of a sudden, everyone knows everything about you; they want to hug and touch you. You wonder what is happening. That was a very interesting experience. It took a lot of time for me to get accustomed to people being around me all the time. That attention was a lot in the beginning and I had to adjust, manoeuvre and handle that.
Cosmopolitan India: How do you take care of your mental health? What does self-care mean to you?
Nargis Fakhri: Your mental health is the most important thing and the way you take care of that, your body, and soul is important. All this goes hand-in-hand. Getting eight hours of sleep is really important. So is staying hydrated. I don’t drink soda or juice; I love water with lemon in it. Even with my food, I always notice that if I eat processed or carb-heavy food, I don’t feel as happy as when I eat healthy, fresh vegetables, with lesser oil and fat. I feel so much better mentally and physically when I eat well. Plus, exercise, no matter what, is so important. You need to have movement every single day. You can’t be sitting around. If you incorporate these things, you’ll live and feel so much better.
Cosmopolitan India: You’ve said in countless interviews, that the world of showbiz wasn’t an easy one, people calling you ‘immature’ left you ‘depressed’, what advice would you give to a person trying to make it in any industry?
Nargis Fakhri: It is tough to deal with criticism, but it’s necessary because it helps you work on yourself. I mean, being in the public eye and being judged is a hard business. We have a lot of pressure on us. That said you can’t take everyone’s criticism to your heart. You listen to it and reflect if it’s something that you can work on or if it’s an opinion that just doesn’t matter. Many people are sensitive to criticism, but it’s not a bad thing. You just need to look at it with a positive mindset.
Cosmopolitan India: Does being sensitive and honest help you or go against you?
Nargis Fakhri: Being sensitive and honest helps me in my acting, which is really nice. You have to be sensitive as an actor if you ask me. It doesn’t help in the regular world. But I think that it’s a great virtue to have, at the same time it’s important to control your emotions and honesty.
Cosmopolitan India: You put your mental health first, and took a break, what would you say to people to avoid burnout?
Nargis Fakhri: I honestly wish that everyone, if they feel overworked, takes the time off that they need. It’s easier said than done because we have to work and earn. They need to listen to their body and mind and take a break. They can incorporate things that could bring balance in their lives and avoid burnout—for instance, exercising, eating healthy food, changing their diet, having enough water, getting a massage, and doing something spiritual. In this industry, we work so much each day and I didn’t incorporate these habits then. So that was a lesson learnt.
Cosmopolitan India: What’s next for Nargis Fakhri, in terms of life, relationships, and projects that you’ll take?
Nargis Fakhri: I’m back in the bay and working on something. I’m really excited to be coming back to work. I had gone away and then the pandemic happened. It was an eye-opener as it made me miss people and my work. I’m really happy to be back. I can’t say anything now because I don’t want to jinx it. I’m looking at the OTT space because it’s a whole new world that’s filled with opportunities. It’s a great time to be back.
Cosmopolitan India: What’s the best compliment anyone has given you?
Nargis Fakhri: Someone said that I have a golden heart. I think everyone can see that I am pretty, this is what I’ve been doing all my life. People pay me to look this way. But when someone looks beyond the physical attributes, it really stays with me and makes me happy.
Cosmopolitan India: How has your perception of love changed over the last few years?
Nargis Fakhri: I think that we only have an idea of what love is supposed to be—a fairytale romance filled with drama. And we get this from the movies we watch. Every ‘Jordan’ is looking for a ‘Heer’ because everyone felt the pain and wanted that kind of life. In reality of things, it’s not like that. Love is more stable, peaceful and some might say, boring. But we should be grateful for that.
Cosmopolitan India: How important is it to feel sexy from the inside, compared to the outside?
Nargis Fakhri: Feeling sexy from the inside is way more important than looking sexy from the outside. I say this because you can do all these things to yourself to try and look sexy, but if you don’t have the confidence that you really truly are sexy, you won’t appear sexy. I’ve met women who are not so ‘beautiful’, but they have confidence and you feel that aura when you’re around them. It’s like when you meet a really beautiful woman or a handsome guy but if they are rude and mean, you’re no longer attracted to them. Your personality can change the way you look, and people forget that.