It’s 4 pm on a balmy Monday evening in Mumbai; after half a dozen wardrobe changes for the Women’s Health cover shoot and laughing that infectious laugh for our photographer for some five-odd hours, Jacqueline is breezing about the studio, still fresh-faced, chatting with her make-up artiste Shaan’s family (‘His mom makes the most amazing banana fritters!’) and posing for pictures with them. Heat? What heat?
It’s a cocktail of this vivacity, a fierce determination and a zest for living life to the fullest, one day at a time, that got Jacqueline through a particularly lean period after her debut movie, Sujoy Ghosh’s Aladin, followed by Jaane Kahaan Se Aayi Hai (both with Riteish Deshmukh) failed to create a flutter at the box office. ‘I believe the audience will let you know if you belong here or not. After my first two films didn’t do well, I wondered what I was doing here,’ she confesses. With no mentor and no access through that big padlocked door with a ‘Restricted Entry’ sign, she gave herself till the end of the year to move back to Sri Lanka. She stuck on because plenty of corporate events and performances came her way and brought in good money.
But as luck would have it, she was offered the female lead role in Mahesh Bhatt’s Murder 2 (‘Maybe because I’m a foreigner and they thought I’d be more open to bolder roles’), a film that turned out to be a huge commercial success and acted as a re-launch pad of sorts for Jacqueline. Last month she joined an ensemble cast in the big-budget Housefull 2-the movie’s success has created a renewed buzz about Jacqueline. ‘I couldn’t believe it when Housefull 2 was offered to me. But I’ve stopped questioning things now, you know? And I’m in a much happier space as a result. I just go with the flow,’ she says.
Go with the flow
Jacqueline’s adopted this philosophy, quite inadvertently, pretty much all her life. Having lived and grown up in Bahrain, she moved to Sri Lanka after graduating from the University of Sydney, subsequently being crowned Miss Sri Lanka Universe in 2006. A stint as a business channel anchor ensued, then modelling…and Bollywood. ‘None of it was planned. The glamour industry had always piqued my curiosity but never did I think I’d land up in Bollywood. I couldn’t even comprehend that you could act without knowing the language,’ she says with a laugh.
But learn the language she did. And acquaint herself with songs and films she had no clue about until then. ‘She respected the opportunity, never once taking it for granted,’ says Ghosh. ‘I’m not the sort of director who would spell everything out to my actors. But Jackie-she did her homework thoroughly,’ he adds.
Even with her recent success, she has no wild ambitions of being the numero uno. She’s savvy enough to understand that different people operate differently, but candid enough to admit-’I'd be putting way too much pressure on myself if I was aiming for the top spot. I don’t work well if there’s too much competition. Then inevitably, insecurities and unhappiness would follow.’
Even though she’s raking in the big bucks right now, Jacqueline has no endgame in sight as far as B-Town is concerned. She’s happy she’s able to look after her parents, travel the world and enjoy her work. But admits that once she’s financially more settled, she might look at getting back into journalism-specifically, making documentaries (‘I’d love to do something on undiscovered Sri Lanka!’), an area that she feels she didn’t explore enough.
But don’t be fooled; the lady has a razor-sharp focus and is hell-bent on doing well. She’s simply chosen a slightly more malleable approach. ‘Some people think I’m really fickle. But I’ve been able to lead my life really well with decisions that I’ve taken on the spot. Spontaneity can really work for you!’
It’s all about being in an empire state of mind for Jacqueline. And this reflects on her approach towards fitness as well. ‘A fit person is a happy person. It boils down to being in control of what I want for my body and mind,’ she says. When the trailers for Murder 2 came out, predictably it was Jacqueline’s va-va-voom bod that made headlines; she attributes it to yoga (see column on right), a combination of jogging and Capoeira, the Brazilian martial art that combines dance and music. ‘Gym is just not my thing,’ she says with a wave of an arm. Add to that a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon and nuts.
Oh, she has her cravings alright, but not for chocolate or pizza. Almost whimsically she says, ‘I miss the huge Sri Lankan breakfasts-kiri baht (milk rice with jaggery), egg hoppers, sambal-I crave those.’
Her non-fussiness extends to her sense of fashion as well. Dresses and over-sized tops are what she prefers but surprise!-she hates shopping. ‘I go to a mall to have coffee,’ she shrugs.
Not in the race
Right now, Jacqueline is shooting for Abbas-Mustan’s Race 2. Her rise to sudden success has been unexpected even for her-’Sometimes I can’t believe I’m actually here,’ she says, quick to credit her directors, Sujoy Ghosh and Sajid Khan (who directed her in Housefull 2) and co-star Riteish Deshmukh. As proud of her achievements as she is of her mistakes, Jacqueline is clearly concentrating on carving a unique path on her own. And what’s most refreshing? She’s in no hurry to race to the finish line!
Jacqueline’s yoga routine
If you want to sculpt a sexy physique or just want to tune out the white noise, take cues from the actress’ yoga workout designed by her trainer Anshuka Parwani.
A typical practice blending strength, stamina and flexibility would have:
-30-40 Surya Namaskar each day stretching the body and regulating the breath with each step or holding different variations of each asana for about 60 seconds.
-The asanas are rotated focussing on strengthening different body parts.
-108 surya namaskars called ‘The Yoga Mala’ once in 2 weeks with no break.
-300 kapalbhati and pranayamas at the end of each practice.
-Running, swimming or dance-3 times a week for 45 minutes.
-To prepare her for Race 2 (that has a lot of action scenes), Anshuka incorporates advanced asanas into the routine:
-Variations of handstands
-Balancing postures-Ekapadasana, Virabhadrasana, Santolasana
Asanas to strengthen the core and back-Naukasana, Bhujangasana, Halasana, Chakrasana that help keep the body light and supple.
*These yoga practices need to be done step by step (beginner to advanced) and should not be done unless supervised by a certified yoga professional.
Jackie’s macrobiotic diet
Macrobiotic chef and Women’s Health columnist Shonali Sabherwal puts together Jacqueline’s lunch box every day. Simple and nutritious, here’s what you’ll find in them:
Quinoa with veggies
-Black bean in coriander pesto
-Daikon (mooli) salad
-Soup (with miso paste)
-Sugarless oatmeal cookie (as an evening snack)
A Detox Meal
-Vegetables cooked in a slow stew style (sweet vegetables: squash/red pumpkin, cabbage, onions and carrots)
-Clear soup (with miso paste)
-Both are examples of a regular and detox meal