Anyone who spends a significant amount of time browsing social media and popular news sites will tell you that there’s one cardinal rule you shouldn’t violate if you want to retain your sanity: never, EVER read the comment section. On any site, no matter the subject, the comment section is more often than not a cesspool of racism, misogyny, objectification, and out-and-out stupidity. It’s enough compacted ignorance to turn a saint into a sinner.
Sure, some of the people who frequent the comment sections of online articles are trolls: people who post deliberately provocative and ill-conceived opinions in order to, well, piss off their more compassionate peers. But in my experience, if you’re willing to subject your blood pressure to the task, you can learn a lot about society by reading through internet comments. It’s amazing, the things people will say hiding behind the veil of anonymity the internet offers. Once you read the same sentiments a few thousand times, you begin to realize that this isn’t mere trolling; it’s a reflection of what people actually believe.
But just because people believe something, doesn’t make it true. Opinions can be wrong. They can come from a place of ignorance, or prejudice, or misinformation. And when you take a look into celeb culture, nothing is more telling about the world we live in than the opinions circulating about our most popular, visible female stars. They are inarguably at the top of the heap, both socially and economically. If they’re not treated with basic decency, where does that leave the rest of us women?
Katrina Kaif is one of the most polarizing figures in Bollywood. She’s as hated as she is adored. She tops all the popularity polls, and yet the criticism against her is seemingly unending. Members of the audience, of course, are entitled to evaluate her talent on their own terms, but the opinions leveled at her never seem to stop there. They’re very personal, they’re very harsh…and often, they’re flat-out wrong.
Here are five popular opinions about Katrina Kaif that need to be reconsidered!
1. Katrina owes her career to Salman Khan
Let’s face it: in this day and age, no one gets anywhere without having connections. How many of us have gotten jobs based on who we know, or who we’re related to, or who we happened to meet at the right time and in the right place? It’s called networking, and it’s a professional’s bread and butter. And yet, none of us are forever indebted to the people who gave us our first big career boost…so why should actresses be any different?
In an insular community like Bollywood, it’s almost impossible to break in without knowing the right people. The majority of the talent in the industry were handed their careers on a silver platter through nepotism. Being introduced to all the right people through your boyfriend isn’t much different. Maybe Katrina would have never made it in Bollywood without Salman helping her out initially, but Salman has launched many actresses: Zarine Khan, Daisy Shah, Bhumika Chawla, and Sneha Ullal, just to name a few. Unfortunately, the audience didn’t take to them, probably because no matter how powerful Salman Khan is, even he can’t make an entire nation fall in love with his flavor of the month.
Whether you like Katrina or not, you have to admit that she is loved by millions, and that type of adoration belongs to her and her alone. If she wasn’t exactly who she is, she wouldn’t be where she is. And anyway, isn’t there something seriously icky about insisting a woman be indebted to a man for the rest of her life just because he did something nice for her?
2. Katrina is responsible for Ranbir’s career slump
It shouldn’t even need to be pointed out how absurd this claim is. Apparently, Katrina could propel Bollywood strugglers Imran Khan and Ali Zafar into the hit zone in Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, but her very presence in Ranbir’s life is enough to send his career into a downward spiral!
At 33 years old, Ranbir Kapoor is a big boy who is more than capable of making his own career decisions. Unless your argument is that Katrina used her feminine wiles to seduce him into making rubbish movies like Besharam and Roy the way sirens in fairytales lured sailors to their deaths, it’s hard to see how anyone is to blame for Ranbir’s run of bad luck other than the man himself. It’s 2016, people! Let’s leave the “women are a jinx” mindset in the past where it belongs.
3. Katrina is only famous for her personal life
Every top actress in Bollywood leverages her personal life for publicity to varying degrees. That’s the nature of the PR game, and as fans, we lap it up so eagerly that it’s hypocritical to criticize it. There’s no denying that Katrina’s relationship highs and lows help her make headlines, but the same can be said about all of her contemporaries, as well. The difference is that Katrina’s success can be calculated by cold, hard numbers: most of her films are wildly successful at the box office. Headlines can’t account for the audiences she helps bring in. If Katrina has managed to make the most of the opportunities presented to her, that doesn’t make her manipulative or calculative…that makes her smart. And if other actresses had been smarter with their success, they might be where Katrina is today.
4. Katrina is to blame for Bollywood’s fairness obsession
There is a lot of valid criticism to be made about Bollywood’s beauty standards. But a preference for fair-skinned heroines existed before Katrina Kaif entered Bollywood, and it will most likely be there long after her career is over. After all, there are centuries of history to contend with when unravelling the fair-is-better mentality that exists not only in India, but in most places around the globe.
Katrina, who is probably half-Kashmiri but also maybe not (depending on who you ask), certainly benefits from the color of her skin. But the influx of mixed-race, fair-skinned foreigners is a symptom of the disease, not the cause. It’s possible to critique these issues without laying all the blame on the girls themselves, who are often brought into the industry by Bollywood bigwigs who could easily cast full-blooded, dusky-skinned Indian actresses in their films, but actively choose not to.
Should actresses be held accountable for perpetuating unrealistic and often harmful beauty standards? Absolutely. But if you’re going to target just one in particular, you’re missing the bigger picture.
5. Katrina Kaif destroyed Ranbir and Deepika’s relationship
The word “homewrecker” needs to be abolished from our collective vocabulary in 2016. It’s exclusively applied to women, who almost always take the bulk of the blame for leading a committed man astray. Not very fair, is it?
None of us layfolk actually know what went down in the Ranbir-Deepika-Katrina love triangle, but everyone seems to have an opinion on it all the same. Let’s assume for a moment that the rumors are true, and that Ranbir did cheat on Deepika with Katrina; doesn’t that mean he wrecked his own home?
No one is arguing that we don’t all have a moral obligation to avoid getting involved with people who are already spoken for, but the majority of the scrutiny should fall upon the person who cheated, not the one they cheated with. And at the end of the day, this is Bollywood! Fidelity is the exception, not the rule. Katrina and Ranbir have been together for twice as long as he and Deepika dated, and DP herself seems pretty happy with longtime beau Ranveer Singh. And as for the rest of us who know none of these people personally? We should probably keep our noses out of it!