Katrina Kaif on the red carpet


Katrina Kaif on the red carpet

This year when news wafted out that the tall and beautiful (and slim and fair and dating Ranbir Kapoor) Katrina Kaif will walk the Cannes 2015 red carpet, a sigh of happy resignation went around. Only among those of course, who actually wait up to watch these photos being beamed out and then write on what’s already been written three hundred times. Like me. But newness helps, don’t you agree? How many times will we comment on Aishwarya, Sonam and Frieda, after all.

Also, the happy resignation came from the assumption that even if you worked as a cashier in a transport company it is easy to predict that Kaif would look what they call “drop dead gorgeous” in red carpet reporting. Kaif has it all in the looks department; her beauty may not move you to tears but she is a porcelain goddess. She can carry off every garment with elegance and yet is a non-fussy dresser with a youthful style and ease. I have always loved her glossy lip colours in the past and her generally “pastel” appearances. After “Kamli kamli, mere yaar ki” in Dhoom 3, many of us even gave up wondering if she will ever act well or why she didn’t. Here is an oomphy young star, bringing a soft beauty to what Bollywood (not Hindi cinema) wants her to do. Why are we cribbing? And those dance moves, Chikni Chameli and all that, oh my god, so best to just shut up.

Secretly though, I hoped Katrina and her fashion stylist would give us reason to be pleasantly shocked, awfully surprised. In ways that we haven’t been in a long time. Would she really ramp it up with something dramatic? Would she steer all that chatter around “what the Indian girls wore at Cannes” to a completely new direction by turning up in an unpredictable red carpet look?

She didn’t. She wore a red Elie Saab and a black and grey Oscar de la Renta. Statuesque, elegant, conventionally pretty. Totally diva-like. Safe as a safety pin. Fantastic where familiar fantasies go. You cannot go wrong in one of these two couturiers (especially if you are gazelle-like as Kaif is) whose dreamy concoctions, we are constantly told, impact even how women behave and speak in those clothes.

But folks Katrina Kaif did not look “drop dead gorgeous”. Her red hair (its auburn depth so visible when set off in the Oscar de la Renta gown) in fact brought her appearance a few notches down. That colour doesn’t work on her. Is it L’Oreal? Was it specially done for the Cannes red carpet? Please, someone find her a better shade.

Here’s the fashion perplexity then. A beautiful star who anyway looks great didn’t look magical on that red carpet. She looked like one of those perenially glamourous stars from Hollywood—who barring a few—look like one another. They follow age-old red carpet style—have fabulous figures, wear enviable jewels, walk on heels as high as their status and stardom allows, have been body polished and manicured to a fault and look unmemorably captivating. That’s how Kaif looked. Unmemorably beautiful. Though I must thank her for not wearing a sari to push a point.

Yet for Kaif to light a fire, she has to surpass her own beauty and try something wild and untamed. Like frizzy hair with a very short dress maybe, a pure silk clutch in hand. Like a long Indian style plait set with pearly plait jewellery with a sexy black gown. Like a Cleopatra look, unending winged black eyeliner like the late Amy Winehouse.

But she is easy, thank you—she is not even trying to light a fire. She is good as she is—I hear someone hissing in the background. Okay, okay. I am just saying that India sent a bomb to Cannes, but it just didn’t go off given the ammunition it was packed with.