From Boom to Bharat: Bringing you Katrina Kaif's journey

From Boom to Bharat: Bringing you Katrina Kaifs journey

Khalid Mohamed

Published: Fri 7 Jun 2019, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 14 Jun 2019, 3:40 PM

Quite possibly, if she hadn't submitted herself to strictly publicity-oriented interviews, she would have projected a different, more human image in the public eye today. Right now, after a career spanning over 15 years, she continues to strike you as a beauty who has, alas, repressed her heart and mind.
That the 35-year-old Katrina Kaif is way more than just another pretty face on the Bollywood block, I had discerned fleetingly on meeting her at a location for the shoot of Namastey London (2007) at a Punjab farmhouse, on the outskirts of Chandigarh. The romedy, toplining Akshay Kumar, was a male-dominated project.
The heroine merely had to go through the paces. All she was asked for was to execute the mandatory song-and-dance sequences, besides elocuting cliched dialogue. "But I can't complain really," she had stated frankly. "The director (Vipul Shah) is doing the right thing. He's the boss. It's not my place to be demanding." Fortunately, the formulaic entertainer was a huge hit.
And the model-turned-actress became a market force, erasing the memory of her disastrous debut film, Boom (2003), a bizarre crime thriller. The presence of Amitabh Bachchan in the central role of a bewigged and bejewelled don, and a guest appearance by Hollywood's Bo Derek, couldn't save the film from sinking like the Titanic. Yet, in retrospect, it has to be admitted that director Kaizad Gustad did introduce a fresher after sighting her at a fashion show in London.
As it happened, a star wasn't born with Boom. Thanks to her tenacity, Katrina hung on in show town, hoping for a reversal of fortunes. After a hiatus of a couple of years, she fetched up in projects helmed by the top directors of the time: Ram Gopal Varma's Sarkar (2005), David Dhawan's Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya? (2005), Raj Kanwar's Humko Deewana Kar Gaye (2006) and the afore-cited Namastey London. The gossip columns buzzed that she was being personally recommended to producers by Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar. Indeed, it was conjectured that she was being promoted by Salman, and had become a regular in the Khan household. A leading magazine had even announced their imminent wedding date.
Evidently, that was a case of kite-flying. Marriage wasn't on her mind, her career was. Subsequently, her relationship with Ranbir Kapoor did take a serious turn. They lived in together in his Bandra apartment. A split followed, reportedly leading to a delay in the completion of the lavishly-mounted detective comedy Jagga Jasoos (2017). The acrimony, in fact, was palpable in the final product, which was far too convoluted and lacked chemistry. If the actress was bitter about the extensively-discussed break-up, she maintained a low profile, and, for a while, even went into a shell.
Incidentally in public, Katrina has sought to be cordial with Alia Bhatt, Ranbir Kapoor's steady girlfriend, perhaps on realising that professionalism scores over heartbreak.
It was Salman Khan to the rescue again. Besides being her confidant, he signed her up for his production company's upcoming magnum opus, Bharat, scheduled as the Eid-ul-Fitr attraction of the year. And it's no secret that Katrina gamely stepped in at the last minute, in lieu of Priyanka Chopra, who had dropped out, explaining that she had no dates to spare because of her marriage with Nick Jonas. If Bharat becomes a mega-hit, both Salman and Katrina are likely to have the last laugh.
In such a ceaseless merry-go-round milieu, casting snafus are endemic, of course. What Katrina has going for her, presently, is the support of not only Salman but also of Akshay Kumar, again, whom she teams up with in Rohit Shetty's cop drama Sooryavanshi. Rumour linking them together was supposedly the reason for Katrina being snubbed for years from films toplining Akshay Kumar.
From all accounts, then, Katrina has regained her status in the hierarchy of Bollywood's heroines. And therein lies the story of the London-anchored model, born Katrina Turquotte to a British mother and Muslim father, who had separated. Katrina and her seven siblings were raised by her mother Suzanne, a lawyer and social worker. Naturally, it couldn't have been a cakewalk for one of the eight children to aspire for stardom and keep the family closely knitted. For years now, efforts have been on to introduce her sister, Isabelle, as a leading lady, with a musical titled Time to Dance, opposite Sooraj Pancholi.
The actress' chief on-screen strengths have been her camera-friendly face, infectious smile and lithe body movement, best exemplified by the ever-popular item number Chikni Chameli from Agneepath (2012). That she's particularly skilful in executing Bollywood's athletic dance moves and intricate action stunts has been sampled in a gamut of movies, be it in Ek Tha Tiger (2012), Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012), Dhoom 3 (2013), Bang Bang! (2014), Tiger Zinda Hai (2017) and even the ill-fated Thugs of Hindostan (2018). And whenever called upon to display her acting chops, she hasn't fared too badly in New York (2009), Raajneeti (2010), Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) and Zero (2018), for which she snagged the Best Supporting Actress Filmfare Award, to which there was a mixed reaction. Her performance, with dark shades of grey in Fitoor (2016), could have been impressive but for the botched-up script and direction.
Without a doubt, her weaknesses include her ongoing Westernised accent (at the outset, her dialogues in films would be dubbed), a reluctance for risk-taking (she has kept a barge-pole's distance from indie projects, for instance), and her spate of interviews to the media in which she has mostly been excruciatingly cagey.
Still, it's never too late. The moment she steps out her marionette-like groove and dedicates as much attention and detailing to emoting as she does to her cosmeticised looks, she can evolve immeasurably. After all, she has faced so many hard knocks in her professional and private lives, that a vestige of that could be translated into her screen performances. Go for it, Ms Katrina Kaif.

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