When Kaizad gave Katrina the name Kaif

Katrina Kaif 3












By Neena Badhwar


I noticed Katrina Kaif in the item number ”˜Shiela Ki Jawani’ in the film ‘Tees Maar Khan’ with Akshay Kumar. Katrina sizzled  in the sexy number  that the only thing I remember was her dancing away  and have no recall of what the movie was all about.

Katrina’s item number set the screens alight  and also Akshay’s stars rose many notches up as his star value in Bollywood movies increased manyfold and he became a  sought-after actor for all those rom-com roles.

Bollywood didn’t even realise that what it had been hit with. It was these fully white actresses who speak perfect English, not that our own actresses from our own motherland India are any less eloquent, Katrina was perfect, a beeautiful doll, so what if she had bit of accent in Hindi, she still made it up with her perfect looks and more than mediocre acting.

I was always curious how she delivers her dialogues when outside the screen on national channels, to journalists, this girl spoke only in English. I watched some Hindi channels and there too while the interviewer asked her questions in Hindi with  Katrina, in her perfect British accent, went pat-pat-pat in perfect English. I wondered how the Hindi audience even understood her. Perhaps they were too smitten by her gori looks, perfect figure and looked up to her in awe. It was the time when Madhuri and Juhi had left thus leaving a vacuum for these foreign born, bred actresses from mixed heritage to walk in.

If Hollywood did not give these kids a break then here was Bollywood waiting for them with welcoming hands and rolled out red carpet.

Surprisingly the one who gave a break to Katrina was Kaizad Gustad Irani, a young upcoming director who is from Australia actually, and as a high school kid wrote in The Indian Down Under, yes, you are right, in TIDU.

Kaizad was looking for a young girl for his movie ”˜Boom’ and he came across Katrina at the London Fashion Week. Having won a beauty contest in Hawaii, Katrina was now trying to break into a modeling career. ”˜Boom’, once made, was heavily promoted at Cannes film Festival though Katrina did not make much impression due to her weak Hindi and strong British accent. Kaif soon began working on her diction through Hindi classes as she discovered that Bollywood was much bigger than the movie ”˜Boom’.

After the failure of her first Bollywood project, Kaif appeared in the Telugu film Malliswari (2004) . With Daggubati Venkatesh, she played the title role of a princess forced to flee from her murderous caretaker. Kaif received a reported  â‚¹7.5 million  (US$110,000) for the film, the highest salary for a South Indian  film actress at the time

She appeared then in films: Sarkar, Maine Pyar Kyon Kya, Humko Deewana Kar Gaye with Salman Khan, Sohail Khan and Akshay Kumar respectively. The Kaif phenomenon had arrived in Bollywood and whole of India went mad on this charming, beautiful girl.

Namastey London was next. Kaif used her life in London as a reference for her role as a spoilt British Indian    girl intent on marrying her self-centred British boyfriend, despite her parents’ disapproval. Her chemistry with co-star Akshay Kumar was particularly well received. She then aced in ”˜Race’ and was the queen of everyone in ”˜Singh is Kinng’ which was shot in our own, where else but, Queensland.

In 2011, Katrina Kaif was seen in Zoya Akhtar’s Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Yash Raj Films’ Mere Brother Ki Dulhan.

Before New York, Kaif’s voice was dubbed over  by voice artists in most of her films due to her lack of fluency in Hindi and other Indian languages though the movie brought her first nomination for Filmfare’s Best Actress Award.

In 2010, Kaif appeared in Prakash Jha’s  political thriller  Raajneeti  as part of an ensemble cast which included Ranbir Kapoor, Ajay Devgan, Arjun Rampal, Nana Patekar, Manoj Bajpai  and Sarah Thompson  . The film took inspiration from The Mahabharata  and Mario Puzo’s  1969 novel The  Godfather.

Then came the slapstick comedy ”˜Tees Mar Kahn’ and her killer item number that we have talked about above.

Her list of movies goes on with many giving huge commercial returns, her fans in India and us NRIs in millions. Yet, Katrina, as a British citizen, works in India on a visa.

There are some interesting facts about this beauty. Kaif’s mother is Christian and her father a Kashmiri Muslim. Kaif is involved with Relief Projects India, a charitable trust  run by her mother which rescues abandoned baby girls and works to prevent female infanticide. Kaif’s Bollywood success has sparked an influx of foreign talent hoping to establish themselves in the industry.

Katrina’s mother is  British Caucasian named Suzanne Turquotte who now lives in Tamilnadu. Katrina’s  parents divorced when she was very young.

Katrina has six sisters and one brother. She was born in Hong Kong, then moved to Hawaii, then London and finally to Mumbai, India. Her father’s name is Mohammed Kazi.

The name Kaif was given to her as screen name by director Kaizad Gustad and Ayesha Shroff. They were opting for the name Katrina Kazi but felt it sounded too religious claiming  that they changed her surname as Turquotte would have been  difficult to pronounce. First, they had thought of naming her Katrina Kazi, but then thought of Kaif as at that time Indian cricketer Mohammed Kaif was a rage.

Says Katrina about Bollywood, “Being an outsider British girl, I was accepted into Indian cinema. I think I’m especially lucky. People have been more than welcoming, even before I was ready. There was a time when I felt that I need to take time to understand more about the industry, the workings of it. I was doing my modeling, which I really wanted to do at the time. So that’s why even my entry into films was later than people expected.” (Stardust magazine, July 2006)

Well done and welcome! Kaif, Kazi or Turquotte. The bottom line is that Bollywood  did get  a gift of a beautiful Barbie doll in Katrina!

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