It’s a gorgeous afternoon at the sun-soaked Vainguinim Beach in Goa, overlooking the exotic Cidade de Goa Hotel. I’m there for an ad shoot for V I P travel suitcases. I am told a “popular” model is shooting the ad, but no one seems to have a clue who she is.
On getting closer to the shoot, I recognise Jacqueline Fernandez aka Jackie, upcoming actress and former Miss Sri Lanka Universe.
Genie in a bottle
It’s hardly been a year since Jackie relocated to India. She had already featured in an ad with Hrithik Roshan. She will debut opposite Riteish Deshmukh in Aladdin.
“While growing up in Bahrain, I didn’t even know Bollywood existed. But when I was modelling in India and I was offered movie projects, I went for them without a second thought.”
She’s still learning how to speak in Hindi and gushes, “So many people told me that the film industry is wicked and it’s very difficult to survive out her but everyone’s been so sweet to me.”
Jackie describes Riteish Deshmukh as “someone who keep it real for me during the crazy shooting schedules.”
And what about those incessant rumours linking her with Vivek Oberoi? Cooler than a cucumber, she responds, “If taking photos of two people standing together and claiming that they are a couple means there’s something going on, what can I say really?” She doesn’t shrug but looks me straight in the eye.
I make eye contact, persist on the Oberoi trail and her riposte is, “People like reading such things, whether they are right or wrong. The media’s doing its job and I’m doing mine.” Uh huh.
She should know about the media. Because she’s been an anchor on a news channel in Sri Lanka. She has studied journalism but maintains that she always wanted to be an actress.
About contesting at a beauty pageant, she remarks in an earnest tone,“I went for the contest so I could speak for my country from an international platform..I couldn’t have helped out tsunami affected children if I didn’t have the credentials of a public figure. Also, to be able to donate more money, you have to make more money..which I hope to attain in Bollywood.”
After the dream role of a fairy tale princess in Aladdin, she’s been signed up for its sequel and for Nikhil Advani’s Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai in which she plays the role of an extra-terrestrial. “But somewhere deep down inside,” she aaaahs, “I want to play a traditional, sari-clad Indian woman too.”