London, June 13: Who would believe that Katrina Kaif was rejected as a teenager by London modelling agencies for not being skinny enough, for the girl from Barnet has the whole 1 billion pounds-a-year Hindi film industry at her feet today.
Arriving in India at the age of 17, Katrina could not speak a single Hindi word and didn`t know how to dance-two prerequisites of Indian cinema.
However, today, with 15 films to her credit, she is India`s most searched-for celebrity, according to Google.
Lads` magazines FHM and Maxim have branded Katrina India`s sexiest woman, while the past year`s box-office receipts suggest that she is the sub-continent`s most bankable female lead.
Katrina, who watched her first Bollywood film at the age of 16 on Channel 4, is now one of the biggest A-list stars in India.
And now she is being celebrated globally, as earlier this year, Mattel, the toymaker, said that a forthcoming Bollywood Barbie doll would be modelled on Katrina.
Knowing that she`ll be mobbed if she appears in public in India, Katrina cherishes her relative anonymity in Britain, where she can stroll down Finchley High Street unmolested during her frequent but secret visits to her childhood home.
"My London childhood and my career are two very different things. I don`t like people to make the connection. The little bits you`ll read on the Internet here and there about my London roots, they are the limits of what I`m willing to divulge," Times Online quoted her as saying.
Born in Hong Kong to a British mother and a now-estranged Kashmiri father, Katrina has six sisters and one brother.
Casablanca, MGM classics, and Charlton Heston epics have been her favourite films since her childhood.
But despite having no exposure to Bollywood flicks, her fair skin, classical features and hourglass figure have proved an instant hit in India, even if her halting Hindi was initially jibed at.
Industry watchers have said that her success has been based on her work ethic as much as her looks.
And, at the moment, she has five films in various states of production.
Her next flick is `New York`. Set in the US, the film is based on the 9/11 terror attacks.
Katrina said: "New York is going to be a complete departure. No lip synching. No dancing. Whether it`s going to be a good surprise or a bad surprise - I like to leave those things in the hands of God, and destiny and the audience."