But her actions spoke louder than her words. In the midst of our interview on Thursday in Dubai, we were rudely interrupted by her hairdresser who scampered next to her to arrange her already perfect curls cascading down her shoulder. Our photographer was also given a stern instruction only to take pictures above the waist as the Raajneeti star was in her ballerina pumps. So much for her "it doesn't matter how you look" mantra.
But that aside, the brand ambassador for Etihad Airways said all the right things and drummed up enough emotion on topics that excited her. Surprisingly, the face of a UAE airline was reluctant about speaking about her best or worst holiday experience but was far more articulate when it came to being Bollywood's most searched celebrity on the internet [her name throws up a whopping 41,500,000 results on Google, previous top hit Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's name generates only 40,300,000 results].
"I think it's fun. Because, it means that people are interested in you. It's a sign that people will come and see your work. No matter how they term it - say cute, attractive or sexy. As long as I have audience acceptance, I am happy with it," said Kaif.
The 26-year-old actress, who made her Bollywood debut in the box-office debacle Boom in 2003, now has several blockbusters under her belt, including Welcome, Singh Is Kinng and Raajneeti. In less than a decade, this British-Asian actress, who started off as a pretty face with anglicised Hindi, is now being featured prominently in the Best Actress Award categories.
Excerpts from the interview:
Congratulations are in order. How does it feel to be nominated in the Best Actress category for Raajneeti at the IIFA (Indian International Film Awards) this year?
Actually, I haven't seen the nominations. Thank you for giving me the good news. It's very nice to know that the film was appreciated. It's equally amazing to know that a film of that genre [political thriller] was accepted. Even the producers didn't expect it to be a commercial success. That's a great thing.
Are you turning to more serious roles after its success?
I love all my films. I am extremely attached to them and I stand by them. My rule of thumb is if the audience has accepted a film, I don't think there's any need for discussion after that, at least not in my head.
After that, I don't look at each review or statement made about it. At the end of the day, there will be thousands of opinions since everybody is free to make it. As long as my audience accepts my films, my job is done. I remember when I took on New York, all the industry people thought it would go nowhere. But it did.
Your next film Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is creating quite a buzz. What's it about?
Zindagi is one of those films like my Raajneeti or New York. It's in a different space and is not your typical comedy like Singh Is Kingg, Welcome or Ready. It's a film in which the audience has to just grab on to it and go along with it. It has an engaging story. I just hope that it will connect to the youth in a big way like Dil Chahta Hai. It has the same potential because it captures a phase in your life filled with uncertainties, that phase where there's a lot of pressure from the parents' end or pressure to conform to what the society expects of you. It talks about doing what your heart wants as opposed to what's expected of you. And I believe if that clicks with the audience, the film will be very successful in its own right.
Is there an item song like Sheila Ki Jawani (her saucy number from her latest film Tees Maar Khan) in it?
No. There's no Sheila in Zindagi because if there was an item song in every film I did, Sheila wouldn't have been such a big phenomenon. My biggest challenge is to do something different in every film. It's such a tough call as an actress. Yes, I am doing a film like My Brother Ki Dulhan, which has five songs and lots of dancing. It's your full-on commercial film, but if you take that formula again and again, then I am just opting for the easy route. That's not done.
What attracts you to a role?
As long as a film is intriguing, I will do the role. I don't know if you will term Raajneeti as a serious role, but I found it engaging. I have no interest in doing a film that is serious and that critics will like.
How does it feel to top the World's Sexiest Woman polls (FHM India magazine) and to be one of the most searched celebrities in the world?
I think it's just fun. It's similar to the feeling you get when your film or advertisement does well. It just shows acceptance in your work. It also means that people are interested in you and it's a sign that they will come and see your films. It just shows they like no matter how they term it say cute, attractive or sexy.
Do you think you are a misunderstood celebrity? (Rumour has it that she is not Miss Popular among her Bollywood peers.)
Apart from one or two incidents, I don't generally see anything of that sort. Yes, I read everything that's written about me. [Shrugs].
Are you happy with the progress you have made in Bollywood?
I can't complain. If anybody was in my place and complained, that would be very sad and ungrateful. I am extremely thankful but I can't afford to be complacent. Knowing that there are lot of filmmakers putting a lot of faith in me with different kinds of films, is my focus.
" I don't generally wear high heels and put my leg up — that's just a piece of creative liberty." — Katrina Kaif about the Etihad Airways advertisement featuring her in the background.
"Dubai is a very lucky place for me. All my successful films have been shot here. Thank you all."
"When will I get married? When somebody asks me!"