Sunday, September 16, 2012

14 days of Katrina Alerts.


Two weeks ago I put Katrina Kaif on Google Alerts and began reading everything that came up. I'm not sure what I thought would be the point of this exercise - perhaps just to test out Google Alerts, perhaps to learn something about one of the biggest names in Bollywood, but also one of the most controversial ones.

Myself, I'm of two minds when it comes to Katrina. On the superficial film viewer level, I'm not bothered by her. She's done some good films, some bad, and occasionally puts in a good performance. She's in a couple of favourites, but I've never considered myself a fan of her. On the other hand, there's a more conscious part of me who cannot ignore the politics of casting Katrina and other white or mixed women as Indian characters. In an industry where the beauty ideals are very affected by a colorist mindset (where dark is never thought of as beautiful), casting non-Indians signals that local actresses just aren't pretty because they're not white enough.

There are a lot of interesting aspects about Katrina's stardom. She's an outsider, but benefited from having friends in the right places. She hasn't had a lot of scandals, but always has people talking about her. The fake last name reminds us that like all stars, she's a product - packaged, marketed and bought by the film-going public. At the same time, she's very unpretentious and genuine in her interviews - talking about working, working hard, wanting to do different things, try new things.

So what did the search results turn up? To start off, a pretty vacuous interview with a misleading title -  Katrina : I want only strong roles -  followed by a bit about her hectic schedule and an article about how she's one of Bollywood's under-30 "over-achievers". Then there's the obligatory "cat-fight" rumour spreading about the new YRF film starring Katrina, SRK and Anushka Sharma. Must you, media?

Speaking of that Yash Chopra film, it'll have a title soon. Not yet, though. (Good media tactic - keep the film in headlines by not having it have a title!) Even the actors don't know the title.

It seems she's become YRF's darling, starring also in the next film by the director of Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, alongside Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh (another love triangle? spare us!). Oh wait, she's not cast in that movie. Well, according to that website, anyway. Who do we trust in this? (Do I really even care, seeing as how I found MBKD kind of mediocre?)

Finally a spot of controversy! Her assistant messed something up at customs. But there is an even bigger question floating around the nets - who out of Anushka and Katrina will wear the white chiffron sari, the staple of Yash Chopra films? Actually, the better question is - who will look hotter in it? And being the catty women they are, of course this leads to a tussle over the white sari. Except, of course, once you read the article, you find there wasn't really a tussle at all.

Oh, and are Priyanka and Katrina changing Khan camps? A word of advice: always be in the Aamir Khan camp. It's neutral and pleasant.

So what did I learn from all of this? Well, it seems that there is no end of material to squeeze out of absolute non-stories when it comes to young actresses. Diets, schedules, popularity, non-existent cat fights and hotness seem to be constant topics. Harking back to that first interview Google alerted me to - Katrina may only want to do strong roles, but the media seems quite happy casting her as just the popular beauty that she's been so far.

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