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How difficult is it for an actress from the western part of the world to empathise with the Indian sensibilities? A number of foreign models and actresses land every year in Bombay (Mumbai) to try their luck in the stingy Hindi film industry and most of them leave or pursue something else. Apart from the tough competition, the other reasons, which seems likely are the language issues and contrasting sensibilities. It becomes very difficult for them to blend. It becomes even tougher to get into the skin of the character and deliver those heavy dialogues with oodles of drama. How can subtlety find its way forward in the world of melodrama? However, Katrina Kaif, is one such outsider (quite literally) who has found her way forward. She has cemented her place in the industry of which she had a very vague idea. Katrina is a rare actress, who has stayed subtle despite the noise around her.
Katrina has mainly been a commerical mainstream actress but with movies such as 'Fitoor' and 'Raajneeti', and recently 'Bharat', she has proved that she can not only up her acting skills but can seamlessly blend with the Indian fashion sensibilties. Her fashion evolution has been particularly interesting and highlights a lot of phases in her life. If you look at her early modelling career, the actress with understated bent was mostly seen in overstated outfits. In her early days of modelling in India, she was cloaked in excess but that was not her personal style. So, way back in 2002-2003, the paparazzi culture was not quite popular, so it becomes hard to comment on her fashion. We knew of Katrina's fashion mainly through her movies. For instance, in 'Boom', which might have crashed at the box office but the fresh face - Katrina Kaif came across as a bold actress, who had no qualms in donning bikinis, if required.
However, off the movies and ramps, during her early days in Bollywood, there were a few occasions, where we got to see Katrina's personal style. For instance, she turned up in a simple white graphic top and matching denims, and minimal make-up for one of the promotional events of 'Boom'. At that time, she wore a lot of floral dresses and cute outfits, which seemed relatable. But the noteworthy point is that in 2003-2005, while her western outfits were minimal, her Indian ensembles were embellished and towards the elaborate side. She looked beautiful nonetheless but when it came to the Indian wardrobe, there didn't seem to be any particular style sensibility. Back then, her traditional outfits were more to do with the reigning trends than personal preferences. However, her western fashion game was pretty sorted and more towards the minimal side since the very beginning.
Post 2005, Katrina delivered a number of hits on-screen and thereby her style quotient got notched up too. She was beginning to be taken seriously by designers and stylists. It was particularly between 2005 to 2015 that her gowns game got better. She wore simple gowns and seemed poles apart from her contemporaries. During that phase, her gowns came from Tarun Tahiliani, Cavalli, Marchesa, Naeem Khan, and more. She played with colours but usually maintained structural monochromatic gown looks. Come 2015, Katrina got an opportunity to walk down the red carpet of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival as a L'Oréal brand ambassador. She joined Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, and Sonam Kapoor Ahuja at the prestigious film festival.
It was at Cannes 2015 that for the first time her fashion sensibilities came into limelight. Katrina's fashion game at Cannes was unlike her contemporaries and senior. It wasn't dramatic or Indian. It was very much the extension of her sensibilities. She flaunted understated and sophisticated looks and her fashion was more in tune with the sensibilities of western actresses. She wore a gorgeous black Oscar De La Renta and full-sleeved red Elie Saab gowns. She was even allegedly criticised by a fellow actress, who called her Cannes fashion, 'boring' or 'shameless'. However, we viewed Katrina as an actress, who is comfortable with her fashion and doesn't feel the need to be too excessive. Even her off-the-red-carpet shoot was something as simple as a black and white panelled dress.
It was we believe next year in 2016 that Katrina broke up with Ranbir Kapoor. And post her break-up phase, we saw another side of Katrina Kaif, which was lighter and more fun and that reflected in her clothes too. She opened her Instagram account and the paparazzi culture also picked up during that time. It was as if she radiated positivity with her clothes (she still does). With her Instagram account, which boasts more than 24 million followers, we came to know that she is a woman, who can easily oscillate between oversized white shirts and voluminous glittery lehengas. Off-duty, she seemed like most of us, whose style is casual and even a bit toned down. However, on-duty Katrina maintained her subtle fashion game.
Post 2016, Katrina was not just a regular fashion icon. She had even started giving gym outfit goals and even incorporated her gymwears in her day-to-day life. If you notice, Katrina's airport looks they are mostly sporty and gym-worthy. She is often papped in dungarees or pyjamas or a simple skirt. However, while a lot of focus was put on her western ensembles, Katrina's Indian wears though gorgeous, didn't seem so special or avant-garde. However, it was a matter of time and she beckoned us to change our perception.
Did you notice her saris, which she donned for the promotion of 'Bharat'? The actress looked extraordinary and it was for the first time we felt, she let her personal preference rule. Draped in floral Sabyasachi saris and styled by Tanya Ghavri, Katrina looked a class apart and seemed to blend with the vintage modern minimal side of India. Even her Anita Dongre outfits are impressive; particularly that gorgeous blue floral lehenga at Akash Ambani's wedding was a departure from the typical Bollywood embellishments and made her look beyond stunning. She didn't look like an outsider anymore. In fact, with her saris and traditional ensembles, it seemed as if she has found her voice - the voice that says subtle can rule in melodrama. On her birthday, Katrina Kaif's inspires us to not to get swayed but be true to your sensibilities. Happy Birthday, Katrina!