Katrina Kaif on how she polished her Hindi: ‘Jackie Shroff told me learn to read Devanagari’


Stepping into the spotlight with an air of determination, Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif has always been known for her arresting screen presence and dance performances. Yet, the journey to her current stardom was marked by rigorous learning and self-improvement, particularly in mastering the Hindi language and dance skills. In a candid conversation on the recent episode of Mid-day’s Sit With Hitlist, Katrina Kaif reveals the extent of dedication behind her polished performances, affirming that her lines in films were always her own, without the crutch of a dubbing artist.

Right from the beginning of her career in the Indian film industry nearly two decades ago, Kaif had a vision of what she needed to achieve to succeed as a Bollywood actress. Her learning curve was steep – not only did she need to learn to dance like a dream but also to speak and understand Hindi fluently. Kaif pinpointed a critical piece of advice that propelled her forward on her mission – Bollywood veteran Jackie Shroff’s counsel to learn to read Devanagari, the script used for Hindi.

This guidance was pivotal as it was common practice for directors to scribble lines on the set in Devanagari script. Kaif, committed to fluency and confidence, emphasized the importance of never wanting to feel lost or helpless in such a situation. “So, first thing I did was learn to read in Devanagari and that was the base which saved me,” Kaif mentioned while discussing her initial days. It wasn’t just about learning the script – it was a matter of survival and thriving in the highly competitive Hindi film industry.

Laying down the foundations by learning the script was just the start. Kaif reflected on the sheer amount of perseverance it took, crediting her success to “amazing people” she worked with, and more importantly, a love for the craft that made the hard work enjoyable. To her, that vital love for acting and dance was the ultimate motivation that fueled countless hours of practice and learning.

Kaif’s dedication to dance was no less intense than her commitment to the language. She joined a dance academy, sharing the learning space with future stars like Priyanka Chopra and Lara Dutta, who were her seniors in the realm of dance. Kaif recollected how Chopra shone brightly as the star pupil, while she herself was deeply immersed both in her Hindi lessons and rigorous Kathak training under the guidance of her Guruji Veeru Krishna. Describing her training schedule, she painted a picture of a passionate student’s life: waking at dawn, dancing till noon, and practicing in a simple, airless room – an experience she recalls with evident fondness.

Kaif’s venture into the world of classical Indian dance proved invaluable as she went on to deliver countless hit numbers, from “Sheila Ki Jawani” to “Chikni Chameli,” each performed with a technical proficiency and grace that attest to her extensive training.

Katrina Kaif’s story, as unveiled in Mid-day’s Sit With Hitlist, is an inspiring account of grit and passion. Her testimony dismantles the oft-presumed notion of the effortless rise of film stars. Behind the glitz and glamour of her dance sequences and the natural flow of her Hindi dialogues lies a relentless journey of self-improvement – a journey marked by the sweat of rehearsals and the silent triumph of conquering one’s limitations.

As she continues to charm audiences with her engaging performances, Kaif’s narrative remains a motivator for many aspiring artists, proving that with unwavering dedication, the barriers of language and skill can indeed be transcended. Her journey is a testament to the power of hard work and true love for one’s chosen path.

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