Issue / The Fun of Being Kalki

The Fun of Being Kalki

Feb 02, 2015

ANOKHI chats with Kalki Koechlin, the effervescent, award-winning actress from India.

Kalki Koechlin does a bit of everything. India’s only French- Indian actress made her mark with her very first film, Dev D. Her creativity doesn’t stop at the 12-plus films she has done in her five-year career. She writes poetry, plays and screenplays and hopes to still be acting at the age of 80. Also a feminist, Koechlin attracted a lot of attention with her deadpan humour in the 2013 video It’s Your Fault lampooning Indian officials’ comments following the gang rape of a Delhi girl in December 2012.
Read on for a peek into her career and aspirations.
How was Kalki as a little girl?
As a little girl, I was introverted and shy but as I grew, I started opening up. By the time I reached middle school, I was the class clown. I grew up in a boarding school in southern India, which had a lot of extra-curricular activities including a drama club and trekking. So, that’s where I picked up my hobbies.
Tell us about your first stage performance.
I enjoyed performing right from childhood. My first appearance on stage was as a sheep and I loved the attention it garnered. I slowly graduated to Shakespearean plays. But in school, performances only had a recreational value. It was only when I went on to the U.K. to attend Goldsmiths, University of London, that I thought of taking up theater as a career.
How did you get your first break? What was the first audience reaction to Dev D?
I was auditioning a lot in 2009. One day I got a call to audition for Dev D. The script they gave me first was in Hindi, but when I told them I wasn’t the right person for the role as my Hindi was quite poor, they replaced the Hindi script with an English one. My performance and the interpretation of the character was highly appreciated. I was given two months to learn Hindi and appear for another audition. I finally bagged the role of Chanda in Dev D. The first audience reaction I remember is people saying, “Who is this foreigner who can speak Hindi and Tamil?” They were really surprised by my European looks and Indian accent.
Out of all the roles you’ve done, which one was most challenging and why?
Definitely Laila in Margarita, with a Straw, because playing someone with cerebral palsy required a lot of transformation physically and mentally.
Which of your roles has been the most appreciated?
Commercially, my character Aditi in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani has been the most popular because she was feisty and fun. Critically, it has been Laila for which I recently won the Best Actress award at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival in Estonia.
An actor’s life is full of funny anecdotes. Can you remember any of yours?
Of course! While shooting for Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Ranbir Kapoor and I had war between us. He would play one bad trick on me and I would play another on him. It escalated to an extent that we were throwing each other in the water and pouring buckets full of ice on each other. Both of us were extremely competitive when it came to playing pranks (laughs).
What do you do when you’re not shooting or doing theater?
I’m either writing or I get out of the city. I’m mostly up on the mountains in Ladakh and I switch off my phone and Internet to cut off from the world. I’m quite an adventurous spirit: I love trekking and the wilderness equally.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Oh God, I can’t even plan my next week! Life is so unpredictable; I find it impossible to plan anything in advance. But I’d love to still be acting, maybe exploring deeper films, doing more experimental work. But you never know, I might find a new passion or turn into a full-time writer.

What advice would you give to an aspiring Bollywood actress?
Do it for the love of acting and not for the love of the lifestyle the profession offers. Don’t let yourself become too desperate or you’ll end up making all the wrong choices.

EXTRA! Download ANOKHI Magazine to check out her answers to our rapid fire questions! 



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