All eyes on Kat

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In nine years, Katrina Kaif has celebrated more than 20 hits at the box office. The actor now talks to HB about her tough climb to the top

A decade ago, Katrina Kaif was an absolute newcomer in the industry, with no knowledge about India and its culture. She signed all the wrong films (think her ‘Boom’ doom debut at the box office), never signed on the right brands.
Today, Kat literally has the best kitty in town. She has worked with all the big banners and all the top actors. With a row of hits behind her and some impressive projects coming up — Dhoom 3 with Aamir Khan, Bang Bang opposite Hrithik Roshan and director Kabir Khan’s next with Saif Ali Khan, the Barbie beauty is much in demand. With a slew of around 20 hits in a nine-year career, Katrina didn’t just reach for the stars, she caught ‘em too.

How does it feel like to be on top of the game?

I may sound a little proud, but I have achieved much more than I had actually expected to achieve. I had to adapt to a lot of new things – new country, new culture and of course the language. Keeping these things in mind, I must say a big thank you to everyone, who believed in me and my ability. Of course, there are times, when I just sit back and feel I am not getting what I want. There were a few films which I would have loved to do, but unfortunately did not get them. But then again its destiny. So I have to constantly remind myself that I have done my part. It makes me happy from within.

Still, you don’t seem to get carried away with success?

Yes. I don’t look at positions. It doesn’t matter whether I am at no. 1 or no. 10. It’s all about what I have learned. I am always thinking about giving a better performance in my next film. That’s what keeps me going. Of course, like everyone else, I celebrate success, but only for some time, rather before it gets in my head. The very next minute I am back on my agenda to do better and better.

Your debut film Boom was a disaster…

Yes, when I signed the film I didn’t know about Indian culture and tradition. I didn’t know anything about filmmaking and the Indian film industry. I did not understand the repercussions of doing such a film. In the UK exposing, kissing and stuff is acceptable but no way can this be accepted here. I realized that your first film sets an image in the eyes of filmmakers and the audience. And it is definitely not the role that I want to be seen in. I definitely had to take lot of effort after that to prove myself and set the right image for myself. That was a big learning experience.

You refused Barfi. In hindsight do you wish you had done it?

One thing I will never do is talk about films I didn’t end up doing. Because I believe you’re not respecting the project or director. All I can say is that Anurag Basu is a genius of a director. Barfi turned out a very beautiful film and I’d love to work with him. I don’t know why we should talk about the past. We can’t change it.

Looking back, how hard has been the struggle for you?

I don’t see it as struggle because my body of work is huge. For the first two years, I worked as a model. I would go to the casting agencies, with my pictures, would do auditions for them, then do shows every day, travel around the country. Later, I did three South Indian films. Then I got into the Hindi films and I’ve worked every single day. Today, when I see a random picture from a photo shoot and I’m like yeah I did that ages ago. So, I’ve been at it consistently.

Not growing up in India and not knowing the language was the hard part. That will always be my battle. A co-star of mine recently told me that sometimes I forget that you have worked 25 times harder here than all of us. Does that mean you feel sorry for me? No way. No matter how good I get at Hindi, I’ll have to work ten times harder than the person who’s fluent in it. That’s the nature of the beast, that’s my destiny. The road will never be chilled out for me. It will never be a laugh along joyride.

Much of your success is attributed to Salman Khan. How do you react to that?

I believe behind every successful person there’s destiny, then there’s God. Then there’s your hard work and your talent. And there are many people in my life who have been an important part of my journey. Salman Khan has had a huge role to play in my career. There’s no doubt about that. I value his opinion. I highly appreciate his thinking process, which is mostly correct. And why should I not take advice from a person, who has had so much of experience in the industry and has such a great thinking. I would consider myself a fool then.

So what’s the nature of your relationship with Salman Khan now?

I don’t want to make my personal life private. Relationships as it is are tough. But relationships in the industry are damn hard. For most people out here talking about our relationship is gossip. It’s all harmless, it’s fun but we all indulge in it. And when gossip goes around, your belief in your partner should be unquestionable. Now add to that the pressure of explaining yourself to the media. It doesn’t work for me to explain myself. With great difficulty I can explain myself to my friends, to my family. That aside when you are talking about a relationship, or friendship, you’re speaking about two people. Salman is a very important person in my life. I’ve the highest amount of respect for him. He’s had a huge influence on my life. I won’t talk about it in a trivial way. As for my “relationship status”, well, I’m single.

Can we talk about Ranbir?

He’s a fantastic actor. He’s got an incredible approach to his work. He’s got talent and the courage to walk the unbeaten path. Both the films we did (Raajneeti and Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani) were fun. Most important, they were loved by the audience. He’s a lovely person, good fun and a good friend.

That’s on the professional front. What about the personal front?

I’m not going to speak about my personal life. It’s a pointless conversation. The day one gets engaged to whomever one wants to, it will get clear. So what’s the problem? Let people be. Let them sort out what they need to.

So in short, do we come to a point there is no love in air for you?

Who said that? I love my own self. That’s most important for me. Everything else will follow. Wait and watch.

You seem to be very homely person; you prefer to celebrate all special days with them?

Yes, special days with special people. You know, there’s so little time I get beyond work that I try and steal that to be with the people I am closest to. One of my sisters has a daughter, and it would be a pity if I didn’t see her growing up. So, I try and work out my schedule so I get to meet them on Christmas day, New Year or my birthday.

What about your style quotient?

I am far, far removed from the glamorous woman you see me as in many of my films. In fact when I am not working I have almost no make-up on, love to wear track pants and tees and just chill. But, I’m not saying that it’s a great thing I do. Yes, that’s me, but I am equally amazed at how someone like Sonam always manages to look so stylish. I see pictures of her at airports when she’s travelling, and she’s so immaculately dressed, so well co-ordinated. I can’t do it myself, but I love seeing other people do it.

But you do follow a beauty regimen…

Of course, eating healthy and going to the gym are habits that are great for your system at all times. Your skin looks great, your hair shines and you feel like a better person. Especially if you have good skin, half your battle of looking good is won.

What is the secret of your silky skin?

Inner peace mostly. As far as diet is concerned, I eat a lot of boiled veggies and start my day with four glasses of water.

Are you a gym person?

I am a hard core gym person. I do regular yoga and exercise to keep myself fit. I also indulge in core exercise like iso-planks, gymming, swimming and jogging.

Okay, generally speaking, what kind of guys do you like?

I know it sounds silly but someone who is honest and trustworthy. I am a very emotional and loyal person. Thus the man in my life should be loyal and trust worthy. I want to be able to look into their eyes and know that I can rely on them.

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