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Katrina paves the way for Brit Asians in Bollywood

Boom may have gone bust, but it has enthused UK Asians wanting to step into Bollywood, a la Katrina Kaif.

india Updated: Dec 29, 2003 12:22 IST
Nabanita Sircar
Nabanita Sircar

The much-hyped Boom which is facing doom and damnation in India, has been receiving a cold reception in Britain, too. The film, after the cancellation of premieres set for four different dates, was released in Britain on September 19 without any fanfare and has already disappeared without a trace.

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Boom had too much of unnecessary skin show and sleaze. Do you agree?

The film was expected to be a blockbuster. Salman Rushdie and his girlfriend Padma Lakshmi who has acted in the film and Amitabh Bachchan were to come for its release. But, Bachchan and the set of designers reportedly took the film's director Kaizad Gustad to court claiming they had not been paid.

But in the gloom of Boom, the bright streak is the hope for British Asians in Bollywood.

Asians in the UK have always been ardent fans of Bollywood films, with Britain having the largest audience for Hindi films outside India. Until now the contribution of British Asians to Bollywood was limited to viewership but now, with the appearance of Katrina Kaif in the film, young Asians dreaming of entering Bollywood are enthused.

Katrina's big break in Boom may not promise her immediate success in Bollywood, but despite the criticism, it has nevertheless got her the attention an actor looks for. Katrina, 20 is a model from Finchley in north-west London. She says she was chosen for the film for her ability to look naive, but has, however, shown more naked skin than naivety.

Her seduction scene in the film has been highly criticised and she admits she felt uneasy with Boom when it finished. She says it is because of her inexperience with Indian culture. Katrina's mother is an English lawyer and her father is a Kashmiri businessman in Britain. She mostly grew up outside the Asian community in Britain.

Katrina agrees she would not have worried too much about her exposure if it was an English film but realises that such an image is unacceptable in India, "and the image projected by Boom is not me," she says. But she is enthusiastic about Bollywood and India and wants to live in Bombay.

"I'm going to stay in Bombay for good. I really wanted to get away from London, I was bored with it. It's struggle, struggle all the time there," she says.

While many young enthusiasts, anxious to find a career in Bollywood feel the NRI status gives them an exotic appeal, but Katrina denies it. And rightly so. British Indians need to realise that India is now a confident country proud of itself and its people and there is no extra charm to being an NRI.

Katrina explains: "If anything, the overseas Indian market wants women who are Indianised." Her going to Bombay has helped her discover her Indian identity. Although initially, she lost out on a few film offers because of her not knowing Hindi but now she is fast learning the language.

"I feel more Indian here. In London people say, 'You can't be Indian,' but here they accept me," she told The Guardian. Hopefully Katrina would not "boom" but bloom in Bollywood.

First Published: Dec 25, 2003 21:33 IST