It’s not often that anyone will tell you they want to work at MI6, the British intelligence agency. Aren’t there rules about that kind of disclosure? Doesn’t a drone fry your traitorous ass as soon as the words are out of your mouth? Elena Fernandes doesn’t seem bothered with these trifles. Draped over a couch in her studio apartment in Mumbai’s suburb of Bandra, her ridiculously toned legs stretching well into next week, she throws back her head and laughs. As we quickly found out further into the interview, there’s a lot more to Elena than exotic parentage.
Where do you find it easier to work, here or abroad?
Working here is easy, because of the Indian connection, but abroad it’s fun too, because my look is international. Photographers-wise, I really enjoy working with Tarun Vishwa, Anushka Menon and Tarun Khiwal.
What do you look for in a man? Like, really?
He has to have a great personality. I love a guy that can make me laugh and is secure within himself. Trust me, you don’t need to impress me with diamonds – not that I would say no! Just make me smile, and attempt to get on with my pets… that earns definite brownie points.
Have you got into the Bollywood circuit yet?
Yes, I have. I shot a film trailer for Naseeruddin Shah’s new film, which comes out later this year. I’m also doing a TV series with Endemol. My understanding of Hindi is good, but of course I have to work on my accent, which is strongly British – I have a tutor. The dancing stuff I can easily do, no worries! I think Katrina, Deepika and Shah Rukh Khan are great.
What about India do you like most?
That it’s all possible – all of it and more
What’s your favourite food?
I do love a good biryani. When I shot with Farrokh Chothia, we ate an amazing biryani, and I’m actually craving it right now that I think about it.
Name a really satisfying Indian swear word
Cheuuuttthhh (said like I spelt it)
What’s the last indulgence you, well, indulged in?
My last indulgence was tall, dark and handsome. Just kidding!
You’re very passionate about animal welfare
Animal welfare has always been close to my heart. I have to admit that I have been at the receiving end of verbal abuse for feeding cats and dogs here in India, and even threatened with eviction, and the situation saddens me. What people need to understand is that in order for a country to move forward, the welfare of animals has to be addressed. Gandhi himself said that “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”Neutering is a one off payment that can help control the cat and dog population in the city, which helps to give them a great quality of life and also stops the tragic loss of life of newborn litters that no one cares for. Saving the life of one animal may not change the world, but it does change the world for that one animal.
A swish, exclusive party with the slightly boring who’s who of town VS staying home with your cats, who are being a bit of a handful?
Hang at the do and then come home to my cats. That way I could have my cake and eat it too.
Clearly you exercise like a maniac.
I’ve always been really athletic. I was captain of the swimming and netball teams at school, plus I grew up with boys, so I know the offside rule! Here, I have a trainer called Harrison James, and I need workouts to be interesting. I work out 6 days a week, and Harrison is amazing – literally in 12 hours, he can transform your body. He makes each workout so fun and different, so your body is always challenged. One day I’ll be pushing tyres, the next day I’m hanging upside down doing abs. He’s the only trainer I’ve ever had that encourages me to eat whatever I want, and results are 100 per cent guaranteed. He is currently training me for the Victoria’s Secret show casting, and he’s honestly my secret weapon. I eat a lot, and I eat anything – lots of pizza, for example.