It is one of the vagueries of the Hindi film industry that an actress like Katrina Kaif is right there at the top even though she hardly speaks Hindi. What's more, she has also done films in Telugu and Malayalam without knowing those languages either! What helps, one supposes is that undoubtedly she is the best looker in the film industry today with a sexy body to match. And also that she has been cast correctly in most of her films as by and large her roles have been fairly undemanding requiring her to look good, wear short dresses, dance a bit and smile sweetly! But to be fair to Katrina, she did carry off a role centred around her in Namastey London (2007) fairly efficiently. She also boasts the best box-office record amongst the actresses of today with most of her recent films doing extremely well at the box-office.
Born in 1984 to an Indian Kashmiri father and a British mother, Katrina's drop-dead looks were noticed early and she became a model while still in her mid-teens. She came to India to make it in Hindi filmdom but initially thanks to her looks, she succeeded as a super model, modelling for all top major brands.
Her movie debut, however, was disastrous. She started off with Kaizad Gustad's woeful Boom (2003). Though the film starred Amitabh Bachchan, Jackie Shroff, Gulshan Grover, Padma Lakshmi and Madhu Sapre, the tale of three supermodels who get sucked into the underworld when they botch up a diamond delivery in the Middle-East had nothing going for it and is probably the lowest point in the resumes of all the people associated with it. Quoting Variety, "Boom is a bust. Much-hyped gangster pic, touted as "the fashion world meets the underworld," plays like a relic of '60s Pop Art cinema, squandering a big name cast in a desperately overplayed, poorly directed yarn packed with guns, girls and conspicuous consumption.
Katrina nevertheless began getting movie offers and she next did a Teugu film, Malliswari (2004) opposite Telugu superstar Venkatesh getting an author-backed role of a princess. She also did another Telugu film Allari Pidugu (2005) opposite NTR's son Balakrishna besides a Malayalam film opposite Mammootty - Balram vs Taradas (2006).
But like all artists, her priority was to make it in Hindi cinema. Katrina's first Hindi film was Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya (2005). Co-starring Salman Khan and Sushmita Sen and directed by David Dhawan, this take off on Cactus Flower (1969) had Katrina in the Goldie Hawn role but shorn off all its kookiness. She just had to look good, wear short dresses, dance a bit and smile sweetly. All of which she did! The film opened decently but ran into trouble when there were demonstrations against Salman at the theatres where the film was running and had to be pulled off in some places.
Katrina was first cast in a role of some substance in Humko Deewana Kar Gaye (2006) opposite Akshay Kumar. Though the film didn't do well, Katrina showed that she did have sparks as a performer were she given the chance. She is convincing enough as a woman enegaged to a cocky businessman who tries to find a way out of her loneliness through shopping.
2007 was Katrina's breakthrough year. Her films Namastey London, Partner and Welcome all scored heavily at the box-office. Though in the latter two she just to look good, wear short dresses, dance a bit and smile sweetly, she made a major impact in Namastey London where she played the author-backed role of a westernised Indian girl whose eyes are opened to Indian traditions by the kind-hearted, small-town Punjabi boy, played by Akshay Kumar. In fact, Akshay and Katrina have always made an engaging pair in all their films be it Humko Deewana Kar Gaye, Namastey London, Welcome or Singh is Kinng (2008).
With the success of Race (2008), Katrina became undoubtedly the most successful actress at the box-office. To her credit, she is said to be a hard worker who is taking special classes to improve her Hindi and what's more has begun to do her own dubbing in films now. Another big release for her was Singh is Kinng though the film is an out and out Akshay Kumar starrer. As usual, Katrina merely had to what was it - ah look good, wear short dresses, dance a bit and smile sweetly!
2009 was been another good year for Katrina as New York and Ajab Prem ki Ghazab Kahani have both scored at the box-office. And De Dana Dan took a good start as well even if it did not go on to be a big blockbuster! However, there is no doubt that a blockbuster, Raajneeti (2010) is, even if she hasn't got much to do in this Godfather meets the Mahabharat saga. Still, it's kept the Katrina success story going strong.
Things look good for Katrina as she is receiving the best of film offers today. On the personal front, though she has strictly maintained a no-comments attitude, it is well-known that she is seeing actor Salman Khan, her co-star of Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya and Yuvvraaj. The last named, directed by Subhash Ghai, was sadly for Katrina, a major disappointment critically and what's more, the film also flopped badly at the box office.