Yes it's true. Katrina Kaif is being awarded the Smita Patil Memorial award, an annual award helmed by an NGO, The Priyadarshini Academy, since 1984.
You’ll have to go back really far, to find an actor less deserving of the Smita Patil Memorial Award than Katrina Kaif; and even then, you might find none, depending on how highly you choose to rate Meenakshi Sheshadri (with all due respect to her).
Here’s the thing about Katrina Kaif: few female actors have reached the kind of dizzying mass popularity she has steadily accrued over the years, yet hardly any of that can be attributed to her (scant) acting abilities. (There isn’t much subjectivity in this regard, no matter how vehemently one talks about Namaste London or, well, nothing else.)
This isn’t about comparing Smita Patil’s body of work with Katrina’s, for they’ve plied their trade in two starkly different generations, catering to completely different kinds of audiences.
For, how can one even begin to laud Smita Patil’s work in the 70s under Shyam Benegal? Manthan and Bhumika arrived back to back, and in the span of one film to the other, you could see a remarkable performer in Smita Patil. She had an intriguing presence on screen, living a character in rural Gujarat in one film and crafting a deliciously complex actress in Bombay in the other.
In the 80s, she straddled socially relevant films like Ardh Satya, Arth and Chakra with, what was by then, a very distinctly different ‘commercial cinema’ space, comprising of films like Namak Halal. While the former was her forte anyway, she was a delight even in the latter.
(Smita Patil and Amitabh Bachchan in ‘Aaj Rapat Jaye’ gave us what is still one of the best rain songs Hindi cinema has produced, even though Katrina Kaif’s ‘Tip Tip Barsa’ knock-off ‘Gale Lag Ja’ has its share of fans).
No, there’s no rational way one can attempt to compare Katrina Kaif’s work with Smita Patil’s.
Yet, even if you compare Katrina with recent previous winners of the same award – women like Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone and Vidya Balan – you’ll see how woefully short Katrina comes up, with regard to their body of work. Each of these ladies has shown range; playing daring, complex characters when they got the chance.
There isn’t one performance from Katrina that can be mentioned in the same breath as, say, Priyanka in Barfi, Deepika Padukone in Piku and Vidya Balan in The Dirty Picture. Not to mention the fact that it seems a trifle odd to confer this award upon Katrina when Konkona Sen Sharma, Kangana Ranaut or even Alia Bhatt have consistently given us more memorable characters.
Let’s face it, Katrina Kaif doesn’t deserve the Smita Patil Memorial Award simply because she is a mediocre actor who is pretty much the same in every film.
The only thing that changes is the justification for her peculiar accent. (The sillier ones of the lot do away with that quaint formality altogether.)
In fact, perhaps nothing sums up Katrina Kaif’s contribution to cinema than her (surely coincidental) current release Baar Baar Dekho – because if you go to watch film a film for Katrina Kaif, you’re going to be looking at the same thing every time.