In 2002, she was just another pretty face among the sea of exotic imports flooding the Indian glamour industry. All it took was one indie film (the ill-fated Boom) on her calling card – and Katrina Kaif managed to prolong her Indian sojourn.
Sitting pretty on ELLE’s 2004 cover, the 21-year-old actress was quickly becoming one of the industry’s most sought-after names – armed with a giant contract with beauty brand Lakmé, countless press and media appearances, and ads for brands like Asahi glass and Seagrams (with Saif Ali Khan). The leggy Londoner soon decided to make “the vibrant and friendly” Mumbai her home, how far could Bollywood, the city’s star attraction, be? “A film with David Dhawan and another with Ram Gopal Varma co-starring Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan. And much more if the industry accepts me,” she had said, then. Looking at her illustrious journey to stardom since, we can safely say Bollywood has definitely accepted her, and then some.
Now one of the country's top-billed actresses, what was Katrina like before her debut Hindi film hit the box office? We've got the answers:
What is your interpretation of style?
Style is looking the best you can and being comfortable at the same time.
None of them are financially sensible! I prefer high street fashion brands like Mango and Zara, though once in a while I indulge in Gucci and Versace. As far as Indian designers go, I like Rocky S, Tarun Tahiliani and Rina Dhaka.
The designer behind your movie star looks?
Rocky S has designed clothes for my yet untitled film with David Dhawan and does most of my ad films as well. Neeta Lulla and Rocky S have both designed for Maleshwari, a film I did in the south co-starring Ventakesh.
My Lee jeans – they are simply perfect. It’s going to be difficult finding another pair. There’s also this chiffon dress from Mango that I adore.
Who is the most stylish Indian you’ve met?
Among the younger lot, it would have to be model Sapna Kumar – she’s all about alternative fashion. I also like the way Shobhaa De dresses.
The sexiest man alive?
The most well-turned out actress on the Indian screen?
Preity Zinta. She wears what you’d wear in life.
Your shopping haunts…
Selfridges in London is the best. Kuala Lumpur and Singapore are also great shopping destinations. In Mumbai, I love designer store Kimaya.
Pretty chiffon dresses. They make me feel very feminine.
The most expensive item of clothing you own?
A Josef winter overcoat from London.
The last thing you bought?
A Versace dress from Kuala Lumpur. It’s light green in colour with pretty chikanwork on it.
Your best skincare tip?
It’s very important to drink lots of water and use sunscreen during the day. And keep your skin make-up free – stick to wearing it only at night because it’s not humid then.
Why are you always seen in black?
It’s a safe colour, especially if I’m not in an adventurous mood. Plus you can get away with wearing less make-up when you wear black.
If you really want to stand out in a crowd, how would you dress?
I don’t like standing out. But if I want to look nice, a long silk dress with my hair down looks best.
What really works in favour of Indian women?
They should be well groomed and presentable. They have such strong dominant features that they don’t need help from loud clothes.
What goes with you everywhere?
My cellphone and camera. A YSL concealer and lip balm from Kiehl's.