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by ASJAD NAZIR. 5 Weddings and a connection. SHE may have started off her career in a high-profile Bollywood film, but model turned- actress Nargis Fakhri has been branching off into interesting directions in recent years, including music and her latest film 5 Weddings. The American actress plays the lead role in the English language comedy-drama about a US-based reporter who reluctantly journeys to India to write about weddings and finds loves in an unexpected way. She stars alongside a strong cast including award-winning Indian actor Rajkummar Rao as well as Hollywood legend Bo Derek in the interesting-looking release that promises plenty of laughs. Eastern Eye caught up with Nargis to talk about her movie 5 Weddings, future plans, comedy and more. How do you look back on your film journey? My journey in film has been a tumultuous one. As in life, this career path has many ups and downs, and you learn through trial and error. It’s also been challenging and exciting, giving me opportunities I never ever dreamed of. Have you consciously tried to be unpredictable with your choices? I think being predictable is boring. I like to keep myself on my toes, experiencing and learning new things. I think the best part about acting is that we are able to do that, becoming different characters and learning about various things through the diverse roles. What did you like about 5 Weddings? I remember getting the script one morning and starting to read it, and I just couldn’t put it down. I felt connected to the character and also the story. It was almost as if I was reading a part of my life. Who do you play in the film? I’ve been very lucky to be a part of 5 Weddings. I feel really connected to the character of Shania as there are a lot of similarities between her and my own life. I love how Shania is American, but has a multi-ethnic heritage and is forced to connect with her roots, which ultimately becomes life-changing for her. My life has an almost identical story. Tell us more about the movie’s story? In the film 5 Weddings, an American journalist travels to India to cover the colourful vibrancy of Indian weddings, but there is something more serious interwoven with the joy and fun of these traditional ceremonies. The film goes beyond the fluff to explore the human component of hijras – a sect of transgender dancers who have been an integral part of Indian weddings for centuries. Conflict arises when this journalist decides to delve a little more into the life of a hijra, but her government-designated liaison officer (Rajkummar Rao) is instructed to keep her story censored. As the coverage of Indian weddings unfolds, so does a colourful mosaic of lost loves, transgender tangles and culture clashes along the heartfelt journey of life, symbolised by the universal ups and downs of a wedding celebration. What was the biggest challenge you faced with this role? It was that the character and I were very similar and she had to come to terms with certain things in her life that affected her so deeply that she had pushed the emotions away, until the day she couldn’t push them away any more. I think because I understood what she was going through and I, like Shania, didn’t want to forgive. So forgiving was really tough for me while playing this character. Your favourite moment in the movie? I really enjoyed working with Rajkummar Rao – not only is he talented, but he is also a great co-actor and a good human. Also working with Namrata (Singh Gujral), our director, was always fun. When you talk about what scenes were a favourite, I would have to say attending the different weddings were fun and working with the hijras too. What is Rajkummar like as a leading man? He is lovely and talented. He is very easy to work with and to be around, which makes work easier and fun. Nargis with director Namrata Singh Gujral and co-star Rajkummar Rao What is the director like to work with? Namrata was a dream to work with. She really knows how to get the emotions that she needs out of you. She’s also very funny and fun to work with, yet very in tune with her actors and could empathise with us as actors and the characters. I feel pretty blessed to have the chance to work with Namrata. She’s talented and great to work with. She knows how to take care of her actors. How much do you enjoy doing comedy? In real life, a lot of people tell me I’m funny. It’s easy to be funny in everyday situations, but I think doing comedy on screen is a bit tougher. It’s all in the writing and then the timing with actors. But it’s definitely a lot of fun to be a part of a comedy. This film was not a full-on comedy, but definitely has its funny moments. Will you have a big fat Indian wedding? I doubt it. I enjoy attending weddings, but I don’t see myself having one or at least not a big one. I’m pretty simple so wouldn’t want something so extravagant for myself. What would be the best thing you like about Indian weddings? I love the food, music and seeing everyone dressed up. And, of course, seeing the bride and groom happy. Which has been the most memorable wedding you have attended as a guest? I think each wedding has something special about it and is very different, so there isn’t one that stands out. It is not about how much or how big your wedding is, it is about the people and the atmosphere created on that special day. What else do you have on the way?  I have Torbaaz, and we still have a few more days of shooting on it. I’m now based in Los Angeles and working on a lot of other things. Will you be exploring the music side more? Funny, you ask, but yes, that is something I am exploring while I am in LA. What inspires you? If I am honest, I will say I lost my inspiration along the way. I think at that moment, what I realised is that family and loved ones are who inspire and motivate me, and I need to be with them more as life really just passes us by. Time is priceless and it moves so fast. Do you have a dream role? I always thought I wanted to do an action role. But I got a taste of that in Spy and it was lots of fun. I really would like to be a part of an American comedy. What are your passions away from work? Right now I’m really enjoying cooking and reading while I’m not working. Finally, why should we watch 5 Weddings? It’s a film that addresses a lot of social issues and takes us on a journey of the heart. I’m sure the way I reacted to my character, a lot of people out there will feel the same. 5 Weddings is in cinemas on October 5.

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