Finally, Isabelle Kaif, Katrina Kaif’s beautiful younger sister, made her debut last week with Time To Dance. The movie has her showing off some fantastic dance moves alongside co-star Sooraj Pancholi. While the film had a low-key release, in conversation with Bombay Times, Isabelle talks about her Bollywood aspirations, how her sister
Katrina inspired her to take the big leap, while Sooraj opens up about being impressed with his co-star’s suave dance moves and the common link that binds them — their mentor, Salman Khan. Read On…
You both have firsts associated with Time To Dance. While it’s Isabelle’s first Bollywood film, for Sooraj, this is his first dance film. How did the two of you gear up for the project?
Isabelle: I enjoy dancing, especially hip-hop. The film, however, required me to explore ballroom and Latin dance styles. I definitely hadn’t attempted ballroom dancing before.
Sooraj: I am a fairly decent dancer, but I had never tried Latin dance form. I was surprised to know that it had 10
different forms of dance styles. So, it was extremely difficult to learn these styles. Thankfully, though this was her first Bollywood film, it was Isabelle who made me comfortable on the sets, because she is a better dancer than I am. While she supported me in the dancing area, I tried my best to help her with the language (Hindi).
Isabelle, you began your career in showbiz with international projects. When were you bitten by the Bollywood bug?
Isabelle: Bollywood has been on my mind since childhood. I have seen so many Hindi movies… I can’t tell you how many times my mom made me watch Lagaan (2001). I also enjoyed watching Kajol’s movies. She is my favourite actress.
How much of an influence has your sister, Katrina, been on you in your movie career?
Isabelle: From a very early age, she was sure that she wanted to pursue a career in acting. I was definitely influenced by her journey. I was a dancer when I was young, and when I saw Katrina acting in movies, it helped me broaden my interest. It is then that I started doing theatre. That’s where I discovered my passion for acting, and even as a kid, I always had that bug in me to be a performer. Seeing Katrina do it gave me further courage to give it a shot. I began as an assistant director and worked on music videos, web shows, ad commercials and movies while in the US. I have also worked as a line producer, but honestly, that profile was not my thing. When I came to Mumbai, Katrina told me that I have to work really hard. She’s told me that it’s always a bit bigger (larger-than-life) in movies than in real life.
Sooraj and Isabelle, Salman Khan has been a mentor to both of you. Do you reach out to him often for guidance and inputs on how to navigate your career in Bollywood?
Isabelle: He’s always helped me, given me great advice and has been extremely encouraging and supportive. When I was starting this project, he asked me to work hard on my lines and performance.
Sooraj: When the film wrapped up, Isabelle and I had met him on his birthday. He is, of course, a very busy man, being one of the biggest stars of India. So, I don’t like to bother him much. I think the battle is my own and I can’t ask for more. What he has done for me is more than enough.
Isabelle, you featured in Salman’s production venture Dr Cabbie in 2014. Why did it take you so long to make your debut in Bollywood?
Isabelle: Sometimes life takes a different turn than expected. You can make plans, but life has other plans for you. I was keen to do Bollywood films, but I was just taking up whatever opportunities came my way.
The first quarter of the year has seen the release of your debut film and you will follow it up with Kwatha opposite Aayush Sharma and Suswagatam Khushaamadeed along with Pulkit Samrat. Isabelle, do you feel like you have arrived in Bollywood?
Isabelle: No (laughs!). I think it takes a little more hard work and a lot more releases to feel that you have arrived. I feel like I am getting started. Yes, it feels good because I love being on a film set. Making films is a fun, collaborative process.
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