I get treated like princess in India, says Bollywood star Amy Jackson
London: Amy Jackson, who’s only ambition a few years back was to pass her exams and follow in her mum’s footsteps and work with horses, has become such a massive movie star in India that her films attract audiences in millions.
The British beauty has her own language and dance teacher, driver, cook, personal assistant and make-up artist.
The 21-year-old’s life was turned on its head when a Bollywood film director spotted a picture of her on the internet and decided she had the perfect look for his films.
He tracked her down and now Jackson has become the first ever white British to star in the leading role of an Indian film.
It’s impossible for her to walk down the street in Mumbai without protection for fear of being mobbed by her army of fans.
“It is ridiculous — like a mad whirlwind,” the Sun quoted her as saying.
“I realised just how famous I was when I went to a film awards ceremony last year and people were screaming my name.
“I get treated like a princess in India, it is like a different world.
“I can’t go out on my own without a driver. I recently treated myself to a Mercedes CLS and was looking forward to driving it. The roads are manic in Mumbai so I went out to the supermarket late at night.
“But I had to pull over after a few minutes and get my driver to come and get me — it was too crazy.
“It’s mad that I am so famous. I was once so terrified of acting that I used to pretend I was ill to get out of drama. I was so shy I couldn’t stand up in front of people and speak. Now I’m in the next big three Bollywood movies.
“I’m signed up for work for the next two years and I am one of the youngest ever actresses out there. I feel like pinching myself” she said.
Amy was only 16 when she was spotted by a modelling scout while at a horseriding show.
“I’d had my braces by then, my teeth had been sorted.
“I used to dress up in my older sister Alisia’s clothes and thought modelling would be fun,” Jackson said.
She went on to enter Miss Teen World, Miss Teen International and Miss England and signed with top agency Samantha Bond in London.
Her mum Rita, a horseriding teacher, and dad Alan, a BBC radio producer, backed her when she quit college with exceptional GCSEs.
“I did two weeks studying philosophy and ethics but I wasn’t enjoying it. Mum said I should perhaps take a year out then go back to education.
“That was in September 2009 and I was the Miss Teen World so I started travelling to America doing promotional work for the title.
“I loved it. I am 5ft 7in so too short for the catwalk, but I loved glamorous photoshoots. Modelling finally gave me confidence,” she said.
However, she hadn’t bargained on meeting Bollywood director A.L. Vijay, who was in the UK that year looking for new stars for his movies and searched the internet for British girls.
Amy’s agency contacted her and said he wanted to meet for which she travelled from Walton, Liverpool, to London in December.
“The director liked that I was white but had an Indian look.
“He offered me the job. I told him I’d never acted but he said he would arrange workshops for me and help me with the scripts and the language.
“I thought, ‘Why not?’. It was a three-month contract in India and I saw it as a mini adventure,” she said.
She signed up to play a British girl in Madrasapattinam, a period drama, and within days flew to Chennai.
“I’d never been anywhere like it. There were cows wandering through the city.
“I was homesick, I didn’t like the spicy food, I missed my friends and a good fry-up. But I fell in love with the film sets,” she said.
The film came out in July 2010 to critical acclaim and Amy was an instant star. Since then she has done three films.
Her wages match those of a Hollywood star — and she has the lifestyle to go with it. She met Bollywood hunk Prateik Babbar, 25, on set and the couple now live together.
“We are an A-list couple in India. People ask us for photographs and autographs all the time. We get recognised wherever we go. Actors in India are massive and treated like mini gods.
“I’ve been on the cover of Vogue, Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan magazines. I’m the face of Emporio Armani in India. But I don’t take it for granted — I work hard every day to make sure I get better and better.
“I often work seven days a week, 12 hours a day. I have a daily dance lesson and a Hindi teacher.
“I didn’t even go home for Christmas because I wanted to work.
“The world of Bollywood is crazy. It is the biggest film industry in the world. I have my own personal assistant who sorts out my life. He brings me green tea on set and sorts my lunch, dinner and chocolate biscuits.
“I have a cook called Sheila at home who makes me scrambled eggs in bed. I can’t cook a thing so when she is off at weekends I struggle. I bring Super Noodles and Pot Noodles back from the UK — I am going to take about 50 packets back this time. I can survive if I have them,” she added.