Katrina Kaif (pronounced [kəˈʈriːnaː kɛːf]; born Katrina Turquotte; 16 July 1983) is an English actress who works in Hindi films. She has established herself in Bollywood and is one of India’s highest-paid actresses.
Born in Hong Kong, Kaif and her family lived in several countries before she moved to London. She received her first modelling assignment as a teenager and later pursued a career as a fashion model. At a fashion show in London, filmmaker Kaizad Gustad spotted Kaif and decided to cast her in Boom (2003), a critical and commercial failure. While filming in India, Kaif received modelling assignments and established a successful modelling career. However, filmmakers were hesitant to cast her due to her poor command of Hindi. After appearing in the Telugu film, Malliswari (2004), Kaif earned commercial success in Bollywood with the romantic comedies Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya? (2005) and Namastey London (2007). She followed with a series of box-office hits, but was criticised for her acting, repetitive roles and inclination to male-dominated films.
Kaif’s performance in the terrorism drama New York (2009) was better received, earning her a Filmfare Award for Best Actress nomination. After starring roles in Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani (2009), Raajneeti (2010) and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011), she received her second Filmfare nomination for her performance in Mere Brother Ki Dulhan (2011). Kaif’s highest-grossing films came with the action thrillers Ek Tha Tiger (2012), Dhoom 3 (2013) and Bang Bang! (2014), all of which rank among the highest-grossing Indian films. She followed this with roles in a series of films that did not perform well commercially, with the exception of the action sequel Tiger Zinda Hai (2017) and the drama Bharat (2019), but received praise for playing an alcoholic actress in the romantic drama Zero (2018), for which she received a nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress.
In addition to acting, Kaif is involved with her mother’s charity and participates in stage shows. She is guarded about her personal life, which is a subject of media scrutiny, as is her background.
EARLY LIFE & BACKGROUND
Kaif with her mother at the People's Choice Awards India, 2012
Katrina Kaif was born in Hong Kong with her mother’s surname Turquotte (also spelt Turcotte), on 16 July 1983. According to the actress, her father (Mohammed Kaif) is a British businessman of Kashmiri descent and her mother (Suzanne, also spelt Susanna) is an English lawyer and charity worker. She has seven siblings: three elder sisters (Stephanie, Christine, and Natasha), three younger sisters (Melissa, Sonia, and Isabel) and an elder brother, Michael. Isabelle Kaif is also a model and actress. Kaif’s parents divorced when she was a child, and her father moved to the United States. She said her father had no influence on Kaif or her siblings while they were growing up, and they were raised by their mother. On her father’s absence in her life, Kaif stated: “When I see friends who have wonderful fathers who are like pillars of support for their families, I say, if only I had that. But instead of complaining, I should be grateful for all the other things I have”. In a 2009 interview with The Indian Express, she said she was not in touch with her father.
A woman is sitting next to an older woman in a crowded room. The younger woman is sitting on the right wearing a white dress, while the older woman is wearing a black dress.
Kaif with her mother at the People’s Choice Awards India, 2012
Kaif says that her mother decided to “dedicate her life to social causes”, which led to the family’s relocation to a number of countries for varying lengths of time:
Our transitions in growing up were—from Hong Kong where I was born, to China, then to Japan, and from Japan by boat to France … After France, Switzerland—and I’m cutting out many East European countries where we were for only a few months each—then Poland in Kraków … After that we went to Belgium, then to Hawaii, which was a short time, and then came to London.
Due to their frequent relocation, Kaif and her siblings were home-schooled by a series of tutors. Although she is thought to have grown up in London, she lived there for only three years before moving to India. According to Kaif, she then changed her surname to her father’s because she thought it would be easier to pronounce.
Kaif’s paternal parentage has been questioned by some members of the film industry. In a 2011 interview with Mumbai Mirror, Boom producer Ayesha Shroff accused Kaif of fabricating her history: “We created an identity for her. She was this pretty young English girl, and we gave her the Kashmiri father and thought of calling her Katrina Kazi. We thought we’d give her some kind of Indian ancestry, to connect with the audience … But then we thought that Kazi sounded too … religious? … Mohammad Kaif was at the top, and so we said, Katrina Kaif sounds really great”. Kaif called Shroff’s comments “hurtful”.
Kaif and Ranbir Kapoor in 2015
Kaif’s personal life has been the subject of extensive media attention. She is reluctant to discuss her romantic life: “I have always believed that there is life before marriage and after marriage. Before marriage … you are termed a single woman and I choose to conduct that part of my life with absolute dignity and discretion”. Although rumours of a relationship with Salman Khan first emerged in 2003, it was not until after their 2010 breakup that Kaif spoke of it, calling it her first serious relationship. They have remained friends, and the actress credits Khan with giving her confidence and guidance:
The reported reason for their breakup was Kaif’s increasing closeness to Ranbir Kapoor during the filming of Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani. Although this was denied by Kaif and Kapoor, the nature of their relationship was scrutinised by the media because they were thought to be involved with others at the time. In August 2013, photographs of Kapoor and Kaif on holiday in Ibiza were leaked by Stardust; the media interpreted this as confirmation of an affair. After the appearance of the photos, Kaif published an open letter to the media saying that she was “upset, distressed and invaded” by the breach of privacy. She later acknowledged Kapoor as “an extremely important part of [her] life”. In February 2016, the media reported that they had broken up.
Kaif has a close relationship with her family, and the lack of a father figure in her life has given her a sense of responsibility towards them. While Kaif’s mother is Christian and her father is Muslim, Kaif was brought up to practise all faiths and says she is a “firm believer in God”. The Times of India reported in 2009 that she visits Siddhivinayak Temple, Mount Mary Church, and the Sufi shrine Ajmer Sharif Dargah before her films are released.