Katrina, Bollywood actor who can’t speak Hindi, turns a year older

Katrina has turned 35 on July 16. Even after spending about 13 years in Bollywood, the actress never bothered to learn Hindi and she never felt the need to work on her Hindi

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IANS photo
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Subhash K Jha

The other day on the music contest Indian Idol composer-singer Vishal Dadlani and singer Neha Kakkar battled it out over a contestant’s Hindi. Or rather the lack of it.

While Kakkar admonished the South Indian contestant for his poor Hindi diction rightly arguing that a singer in Hindi has to …well, sing in Hindi, Vishal countered this line of reasoning with the argument that AR Rahman’s Hindi is not what would win him the top award for the rashtra bhasha.

While it’s perfectly fine for anyone to sing in any language I wonder if it is equally reasonable to accept actors doing Hindi films without knowing Hindi. With Katrina Kaif hitting the top spots of the popularity charts the argument that any Bollywood actor must be fluent in Hindi, becomes weakened.

I remember offering to speak only in shuddh Hindi with not only Katrina Kaif but also the equally gorgeous firangi Nargis Fakhri, a favourite of mine. Ferociously individualistic she refused to toe the Bollywood line and got pushed out of the hypocritical Indian film industry. Nargis was so outrageously politically incorrect in her interviews it wasn’t funny. She would talk about her breasts in the same breath as her co-star’s biceps.

Aghast I once asked Nargis “How can you talk about….errr, such things so openly, not done!”

“You mean, my b**bs? Why not?” Nargis shot back.

You won’t find Katrina uttering one politically incorrect word in her interviews. I have a hunch she gets her thoughts monitored and filtered by someone wiser than her. And it’s not Salman for sure.

I don’t think Katrina felt it necessary to work on her language. Why would she? Even Salman Khan’s Hindi sounds like an Italian taxi driver struggling to explain the way to the Indian consulate to an Indian tourist in Milan.


Nargis did and said what came naturally to her. Katrina, on the other hand, knew exactly how to play the game albeit with dignity, whom to befriend at which stage of her career and then quietly move on….Nargis told me she was not in Bollywood to make friends and she didn’t have any. Katrina has many close friends, from Salman Khan to Arjun Kapoor to Alia Bhatt.

But I am straying. We were discussing my offer to help Katrina and Nargis improve their non-existent command over the Hindi language. While Nargis was sporting about it—and she mentioned how she had even instructed her staff to speak to her only in Hindi (not that it helped much)—Katrina would get pissed off each time I’d raise the boli boogie.

I don’t think Katrina felt it necessary to work on her language. Why would she? Even Salman Khan’s Hindi sounds like an Italian taxi driver struggling to explain the way to the Indian consulate to an Indian tourist in Milan. The breaking point came when one day she called and after hearing my ringtone advised me to change my caller tune.

“You do know who that is? It is Lata Mangeshkar. Do you know who she is?” I asked airily.

“She’s a singer, right?” Katrina drawled back.

I never felt more worried for the future of Indian cinema.

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Published: 15 Jul 2018, 1:30 PM