Katrina Kaif, one of the current numero uno actress in the industry is a classic example, who had a disastrous debut with Boom. But a smart move to do David Dhawan’s hilarious, Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya with Salman Khan brought her into the limelight. And soon Namastey London with Akshay Kumar became the turning point in her career. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is another top league actress who had a shaky start in Bollywood, with the flop romantic comedy Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya. Opting for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam with Salman Khan became a significant milestone in her career.
Today, there’s a new league of actresses who are slowly firming up their presence in the industry, despite having had a not-too-good start. There’s the reasonably talented Jacqueline Fernandez who debuted in the flop Aladin, but is posing a serious threat to other actresses today. Nargis Fakhri may have had a hit debut in Rockstar, but as an actress, she was promptly written off. Then there’s Lisa Haydon who kicked off her career with the dud Aisha and folllowed it another called Rascals. Her recent release, Queen has, however, thrust in the limelight.
“Picking up the right brand, (in Jacqueline’s case Murder 2), a big production house backing them and a big star as a co-star (Nargis Fakhri doing Madras Cafe) or choosing the right character (Lisa Haydon in Queen) can push an actress into the big league after a not-so-good start,” says writer-director Milap Zaveri who had cast Fernandez in Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai after her co-star Riteish Deshmukh, who was working with her in Aladin, recommended her name to him.
Casting director Mukesh Chhabra who is known for his impeccable casting in Gangs Of Wasseypur, Kai Po Che and Chennai Express says that all three actresses have a bright future in the industry.
“Jacqueline is definitely here to stay. She is a good actress, and what’s more her looks are very different and intriguing, something which has caught the audience attention. Nargis’s plus point is that she has become a style icon for the audience, especially in smaller towns where people like to see dance and masti and a pretty face on screen. In Lisa’s case it was a case of smart casting. She was just perfect for her character, Vijay Laxmi. It now remains to be seen how she fares in her next film to comment on her prospects in the industry,” analyses Chhabra.
She has catapulted in the big league with Sajid Nadiadwala’s Kick opposite Salman Khan, a double role in debutant Vikramaditya’s Roy with Ranbir Kapoor and Arjun Rampal and is in talks for Housefull 3. Jacqueline Fernandez started her career with the disastrous Aladin and despite her gorgeous looks, was referred to as ‘plastic’. Unfortunately, her second film, the romantic comedy Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai also did not work at the box-office. Although an item song in Housefull brought her in the limelight, it was her portrayal of Priya, a lonely model in a confused relationship in director Mohit Suri’s Murder 2 that completely changed the course of her career. It was her bold and sensuous portrayal and well worked out histrionics that firmly launched Jacqueline’s career in Bollywood.
Says Suri who envisioned the actress as the seductive Priya after her girl-next-door characters in Aladin and Jaane Kahan Se Aaiye Hai, “I never think of an actor’s past failures when I cast for a film. With Jacqueline, it was her striking urbane visage, and the fact that she was not apologetic about her sexuality was perfect for her to step into Mallika Sherawat’s shoes. I never had any options in mind. Having said that, I must mention her drive for perfection and the hard work that she put in got her the accolades that she deserved.”
After the success of Murder 2, and having found a place for herself, the actress declined offers like Krrish 3 (apparently because of date issues) and a part in the Zanjeer remake. Fernandez’s luck continued as she bagged franchises of hits like Housefull (Housefull 2) and Race (Race 2) which also went on to become big hits. Today Jacqueline is in a good space.
Tipping point: Her impressive portrayal of the sensuous model in the superhit Murder 2
Big ticket projects: Kick with Salman Khan, Roy with Ranbir Kapoor and Arjun Rampal, and in talks for Housefull 3
For Nargis Fakhri, a model from America, her debut film Rockstar with Ranbir Kapoor turned out to be a hit, but sadly she was written off as an actress. But Fakhri for who Hindi was a barrier made a smart move by signing, Madras Cafe as her second film in which she had to play a UK returned journalist in which she did not have to speak too much of Hindi. “The character in Rockstar, was a girl from Kashmir and Imtiaz (Imtiaz Ali, the film’s director) thought I looked exactly like one. After we met he said that I was a bit crazy like the Heer of Rockstar. But everyone sees a film differently, and sees different things in a film. Some said I was horrible in Rockstar, while some said they loved me in it,” says Fakhri who had to wait for two years before Shoojit Sircar cast her as a London based journalist in Madras Cafe.
Ronnie Lahiri, producer of Madras Cafe says that if he had paid attention to what the media had written about her as an actress, they would never have cast her in the film. “But Shoojit and I decided to meet her and found that she had the poise for the character, Jaya Sahni, and immediately decided to cast her. That’s when we realised that it’s important that a film-maker meets an actress if he is keen on casting her and not rely on deprecating reports, as a meeting can change perspectives. Only we didn’t pressurise her to speak in Hindi in the film because if we had, she would have been unable to concentrate on her performance. It’s also important for the actor to feel comfortable in a role to be appreciated,” said Lahri.
Fakhri is indeed inching her way up, as her recently released film, Main Tera Hero is a big hit, bringing in accolades for the leggy lass. “The casting has to be proper. Sometimes you are lucky your character is just like you, sometimes you are noticed because the look is perfect, like the rich, spoilt Ayesha of Main Tera… was,” says the actress who has even landed a part in a Hollywood film.
Tipping point: Playing a war correspondent in the critically acclaimed Madras Cafe and now as the stylish Ayesha in the hit Main Tera Hero
Big ticket projects: Nargis opted out of Shaukeen to be part of the Hollywood project directed by Panul Feig
The tall and striking model from Australia caught actor-producer Anil Kapoor’s attention in a coffee shop in Mumbai. He quickly inquired about her and got in touch with her agent for the part of a New York returned corporate yuppie in his home production Aisha. Lisa Haydon with her impeccable style and persona played her part perfectly, but the film turned out to be a disappointment at the box-office as did her next, the David Dhawan directed Rascals. But the newly turned actress was not the one to do a rethink about continuing as an actress. “I have always gone with the flow in life. I knew if I kept at it, and if it was meant to be, then it would,” states Haydon.
Fortunately for her, she was meant to become an actress. Two years later came the recently released Queen and Haydon wowed with a sterling performance as the free-spirited French-Indian Vijay Laxmi. Casting director Atul Mongia had called her for an audition for the part, and before she left his office, her phone rang saying that the film’s director Vikas Bahl wanted to meet her. “When I met Lisa and auditioned her, I found her to be exactly like the free spirited Vijay Laxmi and wanted her to retain her natural charm and vivaciousness. I asked her to use her own accessories, as giving her costumes would make her feel that she had to act. This does not mean that she did not work on her role. She worked really hard, especially on her French,” says Bahl.
On her part, however, Haydon never anticipated that Queen would bring her back into the limelight in such a big way. “I was just focused on Vijay Laxmi and doing my best at that moment. It has been the biggest, most
pleasant surprise that people have loved the movie so much. It feels really good,” says the jubilant actress.
Her sterling performance has impressed the industry, and she has landed a pivotal part in the Shaukeen remake. “I was bowled over by Lisa’s performance in Queen and loved her sensuality, hotness and brilliant acting. I think she is a great actor and hence decided to cast her,” said Abhishek Sharma the director of Shaukeen.
Clearly the actress is here to stay!
Tipping point: A sterling performance as the free-spirited Vijay Laxmi in Queen
Big Ticket Project: Shaukeen with Akshay Kumar