Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif may look angelic on the big screen, but she’s a tough nut to crack during interviews.
The actress — who’s one of India’s top celebrity earners with a net worth of Rs2 billion (Dh98.7 million) according to Forbes — attended a gala event in Dubai on November 17 and sat down for a strictly-timed 10-minute chat.
Kaif is a distant diva who doesn’t look up from her phone when you greet her, continues to keep her head down even if you wish her “Happy Diwali” to break the ice, and stops midway during her conversation to abruptly request people to step out of the room.
Apparently, the actress suspected that one of them was filming her on their phone. No cameras or videos were allowed during this interaction.
The ‘Sooryavanshi’ star was also particular about the narrative of this interview, requesting we stick to the talking points that have been whetted by her.
“I am only prepared for those questions. Nothing about money and I don’t discuss things like money,” said Kaif, who was in the UAE for a banking event to discuss the findings of the HSBC Global Indian Pulse Survey documenting the saving patterns of affluent UAE-based Indians.
Her demeanour thawed when we asked her questions that she had rehearsed for beforehand. So, how investment savvy is she?
“The most important things — like everything in life — is to hire professionals and then just trust them. In an ideal world, doing a good amount of research yourself helps. But there are some people who are just not there and cannot comprehend everything. In that case, trust a professional and trust people who have years of experience behind them. Go for reliability, reputation, and experience,” said Kaif.
She may not be your go-to person for acting lessons or amiability, but when it comes to being wise with wealth and raking in the moolah, Kaif is on solid ground.
Her latest blockbuster ‘Sooryanvanshi’, out in the UAE cinemas now, has joined the Rs1 billion cinema club and she’s is one of Bollywood’s most enterprising stars. Her career graph is filled with massive star-studded blockbusters and hit franchises — like the ‘Tiger’ series with Salman Khan. The ‘Boom’ star, with a whopping 57 million Instagram followers, may not necessarily have meaty roles to play in those monster hits, but she knows a thing or two about riding on her famous co-stars’ steam and star power, while pulling in her weight with dexterity on the dance floor to some memorable Bollywood numbers.
Kaif isn’t an actress alone. She is fast becoming a formidable brand who is busy building an empire by diversifying her celebrity. Recently, she launched her own beauty empire and invested in a cosmetic start-up whose value increased exponentially. She famously invested Rs20 million in 2018 and after the IPO, her investment has increased to Rs220 million earlier this week.
“I have a team of experts around me and we all need experts in today’s lives. Even to file your income tax, it must be done meticulously by an expert,” said Kaif.
Her philosophy to striking big in terms of savings and investments is painfully simple.
“My rule of thumb is to enjoy life, but don’t be foolish,” said Kaif.
She treads the middle path when it comes to making her own investments.
“When you talk about conservative investors for example, they wouldn’t play much on the stock markets. They will only invest in extremely safe reliable stock. You have to see what your appetite for risk is in case of saving money and securing a safe future. Ask your advisers,” suggests Kaif.
“In terms of saving money, we all want to have a secure future and my rule of philosophy is ‘enjoy life, but there’s no need to be foolish,” said Kaif.
So what does she dabble in — gold, real-estate, bitcoins, digital art?
“It’s up to each individual. I would say probably a little bit of whatever you feel confident in is always a good idea. Try and diversify your own investments. A wise option is not to have all your eggs in one basket and then you got to go with your comfort level,” said Kaif.
And her comfort level was launching her own beauty empire. This high net-worth individual, who is rumoured to be marrying actor Vicky Kaushal this December in Rajasthan, claims that her beauty business is an extremely personal venture for her. She knows her blush from her bronzer and describes her foray into the business an ‘amazing journey’.
“I don’t think anybody from the outside will understand how much work goes into it and the personal involvement I have. Even if people think I am hard-working, my involvement is not apparent. Kay Beauty for me is a complete passion of mine. Creating a make-up brand was a passion of mine, it wasn’t a business for me,” said Kaif. For the first time during this interview, she was animated and seemed genuinely invested in promoting her brand, which seems to be her pet project.
“Regarding your question about celebrities getting into different lines of business, only do it if it’s your passion and only do it if you are willing to spend seven hours of your sleep time after your day job to put work into that passion. If it’s just going to be a business for you, then how are you going to stand out? It’s got to be your passion,” said Kaif, in response to our query.
When it comes to hard work and discipline, Kaif is painstakingly thorough. In the past, this journalist has seen this actress rehearse during Bollywood awards performances from dawn to dusk to perfect her dance moves. During those rehearsals, she was on beast mode and worked like a machine to look effortlessly graceful while executing complex dance moves.
According to reports, Kaif allegedly charges roughly Rs110 million for a film and charges over Rs60-70 million for her brand endorsements. These figures couldn’t be independently verified by Gulf News. But what can be quantified is her recent film ‘Sooryavanshi’s success. It was the first Bollywood film to release in the cinemas worldwide after the COVID-19 global pandemic, but did brisk box office business. Directed by Rohit Shetty, actor Akshay Kumar played a fierce cop who thwarts a terrorist attack in this hit cop franchise.
“It was a big relief to the entire film industry because there was a big question mark on whether people are going to come back to the cinemas and whether the box office numbers are going to be the same again? So it was a huge relief for everyone when ‘Sooryavanshi’ did so well … We are extremely happy about its success,” said Kaif.
She’s also gearing up to work on her career’s first all-female road film ‘Jee Le Zara’, with Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Alia Bhatt as her travel companions.
“It’s going to be fun. Again, this is a passion project of ours and we have really put our hearts and soul into making this film come together … It’s going to be very exciting,” said Kaif.
While this actress may be the brightest bulb in the classroom about money matters and nifty career moves, Kaif is surprisingly emotional when asked about her biggest indulgence in her life.
“Even though it may be a financial question, my biggest indulgence is pancakes of any kind,” said Kaif, with a reluctant smile on her face.
Sticking to the theme of HSBC’s banking event celebrating global Indians in the UAE and beyond, Katrina Kaif described what it meant for her to be a global citizen. The bi-racial actress was born to a Kashmiri father and British mother in Hong Kong and was raised in London.
“A global Indian refers to all the Indians who are settled overseas. I remember about two years ago, we had gone for the ‘Dabangg’ show in America and everyone who came to that show were global Indians who lived abroad but still want to maintain their contact and their connection with India. Be it through food, culture, or through cinema. When I think of global Indians who live abroad, I think of people who want to remain connected to their country’s heritage and culture…,” said Kaif.