Katrina Kaif (pronounced [kəˈʈriːna kɛːf]; born Katrina Turquotte; 16 July 1983) is a British actress who works in Hindi-language films. Though Kaif has received mixed reviews for her acting prowess, she is one of the highest-paid actresses in India, and has received several accolades, including four Screen Awards and four Zee Cine Awards, in addition to three Filmfare nominations. She is noted for her dancing ability in various successful item numbers.
16 July 1983
Born in Hong Kong, Kaif lived in several countries before she moved to London. She received her first modelling assignment as a teenager and later pursued a career as a fashion model. At a fashion show in London, Indian filmmaker Kaizad Gustad decided to cast her in Boom (2003), a critical and commercial failure. While in India, Kaif received modelling assignments and established a successful modelling career, however, filmmakers were hesitant to cast her due to her poor command of Hindi. After appearing in the Telugu film Malliswari (2004), Kaif earned commercial success in Bollywood with the romantic comedies Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya? (2005) and Namastey London (2007). Further success followed with a series of box-office hits, but she was criticised for her acting, repetitive roles, and inclination to male-dominated films.
Kaif's performances in the thriller New York (2009) and the romantic comedy Mere Brother Ki Dulhan (2011) were better received, earning her nominations for the Filmfare Award for Best Actress. She also starred in Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani (2009), Raajneeti (2010), and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) during this period, and found major commercial success in the action thrillers Ek Tha Tiger (2012), Dhoom 3 (2013), and Bang Bang! (2014), all of which rank among the highest-grossing Indian films. These were followed by a series of commercial failures, though the action films Tiger Zinda Hai (2017) and Sooryavanshi (2021) and the drama Bharat (2019) were box-office hits. Kaif's portrayal of an alcoholic actress in the romantic drama Zero (2018) earned her a Zee Cine Award for Best Supporting Actress.
As a public figure, Kaif regularly features in listings of India's most popular and attractive celebrities. A prominent brand endorser, she launched her cosmetic brand Kay Beauty in 2019. She is involved with her mother's charity and participates in stage shows. Guarded about her personal life, Kaif is married to actor Vicky Kaushal.
Katrina Kaif was born in Hong Kong with her mother's surname Turquotte (also spelt Turcotte), on 16 July 1983.[a] According to the actress, her father, Mohammed Kaif, is a British businessman of Kashmiri descent and her mother (Suzanne, also spelt Susanna) is an English lawyer and charity worker. She has seven siblings: three elder sisters named Stephanie, Christine and Natasha; three younger sisters named Melissa, Sonia, and Isabel; and an elder brother named Michael. Isabelle Kaif is also a model and actress. Kaif's parents divorced when she was a child, and her father moved to the United States. She said her father had no influence on her or her siblings while they were growing up, and that they were raised by their mother. On her father's absence in her life, Kaif said that although she occasionally wished for him to be supportive, she chooses not to complain and is instead grateful for the things she does have. In a 2009 interview with The Indian Express, she said she was not in touch with her father.
Kaif's paternal parentage has been questioned by some members of the film industry. In a 2011 interview with Mumbai Mirror, Boom producer Ayesha Shroff accused Kaif of fabricating her history: "We created an identity for her. She was this pretty young English girl, and we gave her the Kashmiri father and thought of calling her Katrina Kazi. We thought we'd give her some kind of Indian ancestry, to connect with the audience ... But then we thought that Kazi sounded too ... religious? ... Mohammad Kaif was at the top, and so we said, Katrina Kaif sounds really great". Kaif called Shroff's comments "hurtful", and said it is evident she is not 100% Caucasian.
As Kaif's mother is a social activist, the family relocated to a number of countries for varying lengths of time. Therefore, Kaif and her siblings were home-schooled by a series of tutors. She says:
Our transitions in growing up were—from Hong Kong where I was born, to China, then to Japan, and from Japan by boat to France ... After France, Switzerland—and I'm cutting out many East European countries where we were for only a few months each—then Poland in Kraków ... After that we went to Belgium, then to Hawaii, which was a short time, and then came to London.
Although Kaif is thought to have grown up in London, she lived there for only three years before moving to India. At age 14, Kaif won a beauty contest in Hawaii, and received her first modelling assignment in a jewellery campaign. She subsequently modelled professionally in London, working for freelance agencies and appearing regularly at London Fashion Week. During this period, she visited India for the first time after an Asian friend suggested they take a trip there.
Acting beginnings (2003–2005)
At a fashion show Kaif attracted the attention of London-based filmmaker Kaizad Gustad. He selected her for a role in the English-Hindi erotic heist film Boom as part of an ensemble cast that included Amitabh Bachchan, Gulshan Grover, Jackie Shroff, Madhu Sapre and Padma Lakshmi. While filming in India, Kaif received other offers and decided to stay in the country; she then changed her surname to her father's because she thought it would be easier to pronounce. In 2003, she was noticed as a model after walking the ramp for Rohit Bal at the India Fashion Week and appeared in the first Kingfisher Calendar. Kaif soon established a successful modelling career in India after endorsing brands such as Coca-Cola, LG, Fevicol and Samsung.
Kaif's career as a model led to anticipation surrounding her Bollywood debut. Boom (2003) had its first screening at the Cannes Film Festival, and was heavily promoted at the event, but emerged as a commercial and critical failure. Kaif's portrayal of a supermodel ensnared in the Mumbai underworld was poorly received; Ziya U. Salam of The Hindu attributed the weak performances of the film's leading ladies to "the vacuity of their expressions". Hindustan Times reported that after Boom's release, Kaif was written off due to her poor Hindi and thick British accent. She later dismissed Boom as an unimportant part of her career, ascribing her choice to her unawareness of Indian audiences' film taste then. Although Kaif was offered a number of modelling assignments, filmmakers were hesitant to cast her because of her poor command of Hindi. In one instance, Mahesh Bhatt replaced her with Tara Sharma in Saaya (2003) as he found her an "inconsistent performer". Subsequently, Kaif began working on her diction through Hindi classes.
After the failure of her first Bollywood project, Kaif appeared in the Telugu film Malliswari (2004). With Daggubati Venkatesh, she played the title role of a princess forced to flee from her murderous caretaker. Kaif received a reported salary of ₹7.5 million (US$100,000) for the film, the highest for a South Indian film actress at the time. Despite negative reviews for her acting, she was nominated for a Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Telugu and received several film offers afterwards. Malliswari was a profitable venture. In 2005, Kaif appeared briefly as Abhishek Bachchan's girlfriend in Ram Gopal Varma's political thriller Sarkar. She next featured alongside Salman Khan, Sushmita Sen and Sohail Khan in Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya?, a film she considered her "first real step into Bollywood". Directed by David Dhawan, the film was a successful remake of the romantic comedy Cactus Flower. For her role as a suicidal model, Kaif received the Stardust Award for Breakthrough Performance – Female. According to Sukanya Verma of Rediff.com, "Katrina's Disney princess-like charm adds to her adorable screen presence". Kaif followed with a small part in her second Telugu film, Allari Pidugu.
Breakthrough and rise to prominence (2006–2008)
In 2006, she appeared in Raj Kanwar's unsuccessful Humko Deewana Kar Gaye, which marked the first of her many films with costar Akshay Kumar, and tells the story of two like-minded strangers who fall in love despite being engaged to others. Sify wrote that Kaif was "passably competent in a tailor-made role, giving a mild emotional spin to a couple of scenes" but was overshadowed by her supporting actresses. Kaif also appeared with Mammootty in the Malayalam crime thriller Balram vs. Tharadas, for which Rishi Raj Singh of The Hindu called her performance "marvellous".
Kaif's career prospects improved in 2007, when she appeared in four Bollywood hits. In an interview with The Indian Express, she called Vipul Amrutlal Shah's romantic comedy Namastey London a milestone, saying that "for the first time, [she] had a dominating role". Kaif used her life in London as a reference for her role of a spoilt British Indian girl intent on marrying her self-centred British boyfriend, despite her parents' disapproval. Although critics expressed mixed views on the film, Sukanya Verma wrote that Kaif "suits the role to the T" and "brings the zingy mix of her character alive with style and substance". Kaif's chemistry with co-star Akshay Kumar was particularly well received, with Nikhat Kazmi of The Times of India calling their casting "refreshing". Taran Adarsh from Bollywood Hungama found Kaif "a revelation", writing, "the actor surprised you with a confident performance in Humko Deewana Kar Gaye and now, in Namaste London, she comes up with a spirited performance yet again. She handles the complex part with remarkable ease."
Kaif had a supporting role as a doctor in the sports drama Apne, a highly anticipated release as it marked the first appearance of Dharmendra with his sons, Sunny Deol and Bobby Deol. After Apne she rejoined director David Dhawan and Salman Khan for the comedy Partner, a remake of Hitch which also starred Govinda and Lara Dutta. With a worldwide revenue of ₹1.03 billion (US$14 million), the film was a major financial success. Kaif's final film of the year was Anees Bazmee's comedy Welcome, alongside Akshay Kumar, Nana Patekar, Mallika Sherawat and Anil Kapoor. Although the film generated mostly negative reviews, it proved to be the second highest-grossing Bollywood film of 2007. The similarity of Kaif's roles was noted by Shoma Chaudhury of Tehelka, who called her "unabashed eye-candy", adding that she was "a pretty prop in Welcome" and "more of the same in Partner and Apne".
In 2008, Kaif had three releases, the first of which was Abbas-Mustan's action thriller Race, a story about two stepbrothers-turned-rivals who are in contention for their father's insurance money. Kaif played Saif Ali Khan's secretary, who is his stepbrother's (Akshaye Khanna) lover. Nikhat Kazmi was appreciative of the film, praising its "super cool look [and] testosterone-high action sequences" but found Kaif "too pale" in her role. After Race, Kaif rejoined Akshay Kumar in Anees Bazmee's action comedy Singh Is Kinng. The film earned ₹1.25 billion (US$17 million) worldwide, making it Kaif's sixth consecutive box-office success. However, she received mixed reviews for her performance. Rajeev Masand of CNN-News18 found Kaif "an eyesore" and her acting "weak".
Kaif's final film of the year—Subhash Ghai's drama Yuvvraaj—was a major box-office failure. In preparation for her role as a cellist she practised her playing with orchestra members. Her portrayal of a girl forbidden by her father from marrying her poor lover was well received by Sify's Sonia Chopra: "Katrina is wonderful, plays the cello convincingly, and looks ethereal". Despite the film's mixed critical reception, its screenplay was added to the library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for its artistic merit.
Before New York, Kaif's voice was dubbed over by voice artists in most of her films due to her lack of fluency in Hindi and other Indian languages.[b] Although she appeared in a series of successful films, critics noted that she had little to do in them as they were generally male-dominated. Her performances were also largely criticised. About her series of glamorous roles, Kaif said that her "first few films were really a process of learning ... There was no target". Kaif participated in Shah Rukh Khan's "Temptations Reloaded" world concert tour in 2008. Also featuring Kareena Kapoor and Arjun Rampal, the tour began in Amsterdam in June and ended four months later in Dubai's Festival City Arena before an audience of 15,000.
New York and widespread recognition (2009–2012)
After a string of films in which she was cast to add glamour, Kaif grew tired of "arm candy" roles and began looking for more substantial parts. She found this in Kabir Khan's terrorism drama New York (2009). Featuring John Abraham and Neil Nitin Mukesh in lead roles, the film tells the story of how three friends' lives are changed when the former is wrongly detained after 9/11. Kaif played Maya, a college student who later marries a terrorist. Having undergone similar isolation because of her skin colour when she was growing up in London, Kaif identified with the character's experiences. New York performed well at the box office and received favourable reviews. According to Subhash K. Jha, Kaif "comes into her own as an actress of substance ... From the carefree effervescent campus girl to the anguished wife, Katrina makes the journey look plausible all the way." A reviewer for The Times of India considered it to be the "best performance of her entire career". New York brought Kaif her first Filmfare Award nomination for Best Actress. She then appeared in a cameo for India's first underwater thriller Blue. Kaif starred with Ranbir Kapoor in Rajkumar Santoshi's hit comedy, Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani (2009), as an orphan forced to marry a rich man. Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama called her and Kumar's chemistry "electrifying", adding, "Kaif continues to surprise ... She scores in both emotional and light scenes." Her final film of the year was Priyadarshan's comedy De Dana Dan. She performed with Akon at the closing ceremony of the 2009 Indian Premier League at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg,
In 2010, Kaif appeared in Prakash Jha's political thriller Raajneeti as part of an ensemble cast which included Ranbir Kapoor, Ajay Devgan, Arjun Rampal, Nana Patekar, Manoj Bajpai and Sarah Thompson. The film took inspiration from The Mahabharata and Mario Puzo's 1969 novel The Godfather. Set in Bhopal, the film described a fiercely fought election campaign by two parties attempting to seize power with manipulation, corruption and treachery. Kaif rejected the media's speculation that her character was based on Sonia Gandhi. In preparation for her role as Indu, a politician loosely based on Draupadi, she watched Priyanka Gandhi's election campaign videos to study the body language and interaction of politicians. The film received mainly positive reviews from critics. Rajeev Masand found Raajneeti "thrilling and gripping", though Namrata Joshi was more critical and expressed her disappointment over the film's depiction of women. Nikhat Kazmi considered Kaif's performance to be "carefree and camera-unconscious" and wrote that she "seems to slip into the high-powered shoes easily". The film was highly successful at the box office, receiving a total collection of ₹1.4 billion (US$19 million).
Kaif collaborated with Akshay Kumar for the sixth time in the slapstick comedy Tees Maar Khan (2010). Kaif's role of an aspiring actress, the girlfriend of a criminal (Kumar), drew comparisons to Keira Knightley's part in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003). In one of the film's scenes, Kaif appeared in a popular item number titled "Sheila Ki Jawani". The song was choreographed by the film's director Farah Khan and for the belly dancing portion, Kaif was trained by expert Veronica D'Souza. "Sheila Ki Jawani" was often compared to another item number released the same year, "Munni Badnaam Hui" from Dabangg. Despite the song's popularity, Tees Maar Khan was panned by critics and underperformed at the box office. Kaif's portrayal was not well received; Renuka Rao of Daily News and Analysis said that her "drama queen act is performed ... poorly", but noted that she "does full justice" to the item number.
The following year, Kaif was paired with Hrithik Roshan in Zoya Akhtar's coming-of-age dramedy Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. The film narrates the story of three friends on a bachelor trip, and how the workaholism of one is overcome with the help of Laila (Kaif). She had difficulty filming her scuba diving scene because of her inexperience in it; she was so scared she dug her nails into costar Roshan. The film was a critical and commercial success. Richard Kuipers of Variety commented that she is "delightful as the sweet-natured girl who inspires everyone to look in the mirror and do something about it". Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara was one of the most awarded films of the year and received numerous Best Film accolades. Kaif then featured in Yash Raj Films' romantic comedy Mere Brother Ki Dulhan (2011) with Imran Khan and Ali Zafar. She found herself challenged by the role of Dimple Dixit, as her loquacious and unpredictable nature strongly contrasted with Kaif's personality. While the film earned mixed reviews, Kaif was generally praised for her portrayal. The book Mother Maiden Mistress called Dimple one of the more interesting female characters of the year. Gaurav Malani of The Economic Times said the film was watchable because of "Katrina's live-wire energy wherein she never goes overboard and keeps bustling with vivacity through the runtime". For this performance, Kaif received her second Filmfare nomination in the Best Actress category.
In 2012, Kaif appeared in "Chikni Chameli", an item number in Agneepath that incorporated dance steps from the Lavani genre (a Maharashtrian folk dance). Filming the music video, which finished in ten days, proved challenging for the actress, as its style was new to her. Rachit Gupta of Filmfare attributed the song's success partly to her "infectious energy", noting her "gyrations and belly movements were an onslaught of attraction for the fans". Kaif appeared next in Kabir Khan's espionage thriller Ek Tha Tiger as a Pakistani ISI agent who falls in love with an Indian RAW agent. The film received predominantly positive reviews, with Aniruddha Guha of Daily News and Analysis calling it "smart and stylish". Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express wrote about her performance: "Katrina is an able, animated foil to Salman, her long legs making her leaps and kicks credible". With worldwide earnings of ₹3.1 billion (US$41 million), Ek Tha Tiger was the highest-grossing Bollywood film of the year.
That year Kaif also appeared with Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma in Yash Chopra's swan song, the romance Jab Tak Hai Jaan. About working with Chopra, she remarked that he "undoubtedly is the king of romance and I have always admired the way he presents his heroines. It was always a dream to work with him and the reality is even better." She played Meera, a woman who promises God to end her affair with her comatose lover if he survives. Although the film received mostly positive reviews, Kaif's performance had a mixed reception. CNN-News18 wrote: "Meera's role was a difficult one and Katrina falls short in emotional scenes. It seems Katrina still doesn't feel very easy in front of the camera and has difficulty with complex expressions." Commercially, the film proved a box-office hit with revenues of ₹2.11 billion (US$28 million) worldwide.
Fluctuations and current work (2013–present)
Kaif rejoined Shah Rukh Khan for his 2013 "Temptations Reloaded" concert in Muscat, performing to an audience of over 18,000, and joined Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone and Pitbull in Kolkata for the opening ceremony of the 2013 IPL season. In 2013, she appeared briefly with Aamir Khan in Vijay Krishna Acharya's action thriller Dhoom 3. To prepare for her role as a circus performer, she undertook a year-long regimen of Pilates, functional training and aerial straps. The film received ambivalent reviews and Kaif was criticised for taking on an insubstantial part, though Taran Adarsh found Kaif to be "ethereal" and "moving with incredible grace in dance numbers". Earning ₹5.42 billion (US$72 million) in box-office receipts, Dhoom 3 went on to become the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time until it was surpassed by PK in 2014.
Kaif's next appearance was in Siddharth Anand's Bang Bang! (2014), a remake of the 2010 action comedy Knight and Day. She played a bank receptionist who unwittingly gets caught up with a secret agent (Hrithik Roshan). Raja Sen of Rediff.com was disappointed with her performance, describing it as "insufferable". Although the film was commercially successful, financial analysts observed that it failed to meet box-office expectations. Kaif's sole appearance of 2015 was with Saif Ali Khan in Kabir Khan's post 26/11 counter-terrorism drama Phantom. To prepare for her role of Nawaz Mistry, a former RAW agent, Kaif learned some Arabic. Phantom and Kaif's two releases the following year—Fitoor and Baar Baar Dekho—were critical and commercial failures. In Abhishek Kapoor's Fitoor, an adaptation of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, Kaif played a role based on Estella Havisham along with Aditya Roy Kapur and Tabu. Namrata Joshi found Kaif good in scenes where she dances, smiles or flirts but inadequate in dramatic parts. She paired with Sidharth Malhotra in Nitya Mehra's science fiction romance Baar Baar Dekho. Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express was critical of Kaif's "limited emoting abilities" but praised her and Malhotra's "high energy" in the dance number "Kala Chashma", which amassed over one billion views across YouTube. Also in 2016, she joined other Indian celebrities for the "Dream Team Tour", where they performed in various American cities.
Kaif next appeared alongside Ranbir Kapoor in Anurag Basu's comedy-adventure film Jagga Jasoos. The film was released in 2017 after multiple delays caused by changes in the script, multiple reshoots, and rumours of animosity between Kaif and Kapoor; the couple had broken up before they finished filming. The film opened to mixed critical response and was a commercial disappointment. Mayank Shekhar from Mid-Day thought Kaif and Kapoor "naturally shine before the camera", and Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV noted while Kaif was "hard-pressed to match strides" with Kapoor, she "play[ed] second fiddle, letting her co-star do all the heavy lifting". In the same year, Kaif reteamed with Salman Khan and reprised the role of Zoya in the Ali Abbas Zafar's action thriller film Tiger Zinda Hai, sequel to the 2012 film Ek Tha Tiger. The film released on Christmas weekend and opened to strong box office collections, collecting over ₹1.1 billion within three days of release. Rachit Gupta wrote that Kaif compensated for her insufficient dialogues by convincingly performing the scenes with hand-to-hand combat and gun fights, calling it "invigorating to see a lady kick-ass with so much élan and pull all the punches like they're real".
Kaif's two releases in 2018—the period action-adventure film Thugs of Hindostan and the romantic comedy-drama Zero—were made on lucrative budgets. Despite being among the most anticipated releases that year, both films were unsuccessful at the box-office. Remarking on the failure of the former, Kaif said she had not invested much in the film, as she only had a limited screen time. The film, in which she played Suraiyya, a dancer and performer, was her second collaboration with Aamir Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and director Vijay Krishna Acharya. In Aanand L Rai's Zero, she reunited with Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma after Jab Tak Hai Jaan. Kaif was initially hesitant of accepting the part of a second female lead, but eventually decided to "take the leap", hoping that "it pays off". Though Zero received mixed reviews from critics, Kaif's portrayal of an alcoholic actress earned her critical praise; Udita Jhunjhunwala of Mint credited her for delivering "what could be considered her most authentic performance". Calling her one of Bollywood's "scene stealers" in 2018, Sukanya Verma thought Kaif was a "revelation" and her "constantly crying eyes, poker-faced cynicism and wholehearted submission to demeaning impulses underscore the fragility under the furore". For Zero, she received a Zee Cine Award for Best Supporting Actress and a Filmfare nomination in the same category.
In 2019, Kaif once again collaborated with Salman Khan and Ali Abbas Zafar in the drama Bharat, an adaptation of the South Korean film Ode to My Father (2014). After Priyanka Chopra opted out days before filming her scenes, Kaif replaced her in the role of an engineer who falls in love with Khan's character. Though the media speculated Kaif accepted the part based on her friendship with frequent costar Khan, Kaif said it was because she liked the script, which she finished reading in about three hours. Bharat became one of the highest-grossing Hindi films of 2019. Although reviews for the film were mixed, Mike McCahil of The Guardian noted Kaif and Khan's "well-tended chemistry" and thought "the sincerity in her gaze" helped the audience ignore her character's questionable choices. Kaif's only 2020 release would have been Rohit Shetty's Sooryavanshi alongside Akshay Kumar. However, the COVID-19 pandemic in India caused it several delays, pushing it to a November 2021 release. An admirer of Shetty's larger-than-life directing style, Kaif played the wife of Kumar's character in Sooryavanshi. Although Sooryavanshi received negative reviews, it was a box-office success, briefly becoming India's highest-grossing film of the year.
Kaif will star in the comedy horror Phone Bhoot opposite Siddhant Chaturvedi and Ishaan Khatter; the film will be released in July 2022. She has also committed to starring in Farhan Akhtar's Jee Le Zaraa, along with Priyanka Chopra and Alia Bhatt.
Personal life and other work
Kaif has a close relationship with her family, and the lack of a father figure in her life has given her a sense of responsibility towards them. While Kaif's mother is Christian and her father is Muslim, Kaif was brought up to practise all faiths and says she is a "firm believer in God". The Times of India reported in 2009 that she visits Siddhivinayak Temple, Mount Mary Church, and Sufi shrine Ajmer Sharif Dargah before her films are released.
Kaif's personal life has been the subject of extensive media attention several times. She is reluctant to discuss her romantic life: "I have always believed that there is life before marriage and after marriage. Before marriage ... you are termed a single woman and I choose to conduct that part of my life with absolute dignity and discretion." Although rumours of a relationship with Indian film actor Salman Khan first emerged in 2003, it was not until after their 2010 breakup that Kaif spoke of it, calling it her first serious relationship. They have remained friends, and she credits Khan for giving her confidence and guidance.
The reported reason for their breakup was Kaif's increasing closeness to Indian film actor Ranbir Kapoor during the filming of Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani. Although this was denied by Kaif and Kapoor, the nature of their relationship was scrutinised by the media because they were thought to be involved with others at the time. In August 2013, photographs of Kapoor and Kaif on holiday in Ibiza were leaked by Stardust; the media interpreted this as confirmation of an affair. After the appearance of the photos, Kaif published an open letter to the media saying that she was "upset, distressed and invaded" by the breach of privacy. She later acknowledged Kapoor as "an extremely important part of [her] life". In February 2016, the media reported that they had broken up. She and actor Vicky Kaushal got married on 9 December 2021 at Six Senses Resort, Fort Barwara in Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan. The wedding was the subject of media attention.
Kaif is involved with Relief Projects India, a charitable trust run by her mother which rescues abandoned baby girls and works to prevent female infanticide. Kaif's winnings from the game shows 10 Ka Dum and Kaun Banega Crorepati were donated to her mother's Mercy Home orphanage. In 2009 and 2010, Kaif also walked the ramp for charity as part of Salman Khan's "Being Human" show. To raise funds for a new school in Madurai she recorded Rhyme Skool (2010), an album of nursery rhymes composed by A. R. Rahman. In 2011, Kaif visited sepoys in Jammu as part of NDTV's reality program Jai Jawan. The following year she visited the Cancer Patients Aid Association to gift cancer survivors and increase public awareness of breast and cervical cancer. In 2021, she donated an undisclosed amount of money to PM CARES Fund, a relief effort against the COVID-19 pandemic in India.
Kaif's Bollywood success has sparked an influx of foreign talents hoping to establish themselves in the industry. According to an India Today article, despite her dissimilarity to a conventional Bollywood heroine, Kaif "turned every adversity into opportunity and climbed the slippery pole of stardom". Alia Waheed of The Guardian credited her for starting "the new trend for a more modern image of the Bollywood heroine" through her Western style. As part of a career analysis, Nivedita Mishra of Hindustan Times wrote that despite her initial poor command of the Hindi language and an unsuccessful acting debut, Kaif later took on roles in films that highlighted her "charming and jovial" screen presence. Mishra further said by accepting her limitations, working on her strengths as an artist and making smart choices, Kaif established herself as one of India's highest-paid actresses. Commenting on her "outsider" image, Kaif said she likes to break stereotypes by believing in herself and using it as a motivation to do what she wants.
Despite being a commercially successful actress, Kaif has received mixed reviews for her acting prowess. Writing for Firstpost, Anuya Jakatdar opined Kaif needed to "take on role[s] that actually challenge her" instead of "coasting on her co-star's box office appeal" and criticised her inclination towards glamorous roles. Khalid Mohamed of Khaleej Times similarly found her unwillingness to accept riskier parts in independent films a weakness. Asked if she has a dream role, Kaif said she chooses scripts intuitively and does not have a preference for a particular genre. Kaif's dancing ability has received better reviews; The Times of India and The Indian Express critics consider her one of Bollywood's best dancers. Rachit Gupta describes her as "the undisputed Queen of dance numbers in Bollywood". According to Kaif, she was initially reluctant to appear in Bollywood item numbers, though she finds joy in dancing as it helps her relax. She spends several hours a day learning traditional Indian dance.
Kaif is cited in the media as one of India's most beautiful celebrities, and has ranked highly in polls choosing the most attractive Indian celebrities. Kaif was named the "World's Sexiest Woman" by FHM India five times from 2008 to 2013, and appeared on Verve's list of most powerful women in 2009 and 2010. The UK magazine Eastern Eye called her the "Sexiest Asian Woman" from 2008 to 2010, and again in 2013. Kaif was named The Times of India's "Most Desirable Woman" in 2010, and was later ranked second from 2011 to 2013. In 2010 and 2011, Mattel released two sets of Barbie dolls inspired by Kaif. The Indian edition of People described her as "India's Most Beautiful Woman" in 2011 and three years later she topped Maxim India's "Hot 100" poll. A life-size, wax figure of her was installed at London's Madame Tussauds in March 2015, making her the eighth Bollywood actor to have been replicated as a wax statue there. Shikha Talwar of GQ India commented on Kaif's "enviable physique", which she attributed to her workout routines and healthy diet. Journalists from The Hindu and Hindustan Times took note of her "trademark elegance and simplistic style" and the "sense of originality and immense grace" in her fashion.
In 2019, Kaif launched her cosmetic brand Kay Beauty, selling products like nail paints, lip and face highlighters, eye shadows, and foundations. Speaking to Cosmopolitan, she said her brand aims to defy society's unrealistic beauty standards and promote inclusivity and comfort in one's skin. Kaif is a celebrity spokesperson for a number of brands including Slice, Nakshatra, Lux, Panasonic, Lakmé and L'Oréal. The Economic Times ranked Kaif India's second most prominent endorser in 2012. Hindustan Times reported in 2014 that she received ₹50 million (US$660,000) to ₹60 million (US$800,000) for each endorsement, making her one of India's highest-paid celebrity endorsers. Kaif was included on Forbes' list of India's best-known entertainers from 2012 to 2019,[c] peaking at the ninth position in 2013 with an estimated annual income of ₹652 million (US$8.7 million). According to a Forbes India estimate, her net worth is ₹2 billion (US$27 million). She is one of the most-followed Bollywood celebrities on Instagram.
- Although Kaif has said that she was born in 1983, her birth year has been quoted (or inferred) in reliable sources as 1983 or 1984.
- In Boom, Namastey London and Singh is Kingg, Kaif's real voice was retained.
- Kaif's annual incomes in 2012 and from 2014 to 2019 were estimated at ₹638 million (US$8.5 million), ₹395 million (US$5.2 million), ₹485 million (US$6.4 million), ₹335 million (US$4.4 million), ₹138 million (US$1.8 million), ₹336 million (US$4.5 million) and ₹236 million (US$3.1 million), respectively.