Monday, 30th October 2017

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Kalki’s wait-list

Kalki Koechlin tells t2 what she’s waiting for!

  • Published 29.05.16

Her films are unusual, so is she. Holding her own opposite Naseeruddin Shah in Waiting, Kalki Koechlin [the surname is pronounced ‘keklaan’, with the last ‘n’ being a nasal sound] is already picking up accolades for her portrayal of a young wife suddenly confronted with her husband battling for his life. t2 found out what’s on Kalki’s mind when she breezed through town earlier this week.

Was it intimidating to work with Naseeruddin Shah in Waiting?

It was intimidating in That Girl in Yellow Boots. I was nervous because he has an aura about himself. When he enters, everybody becomes quiet. But this time around, we have interacted a lot more. We are friends, you know. So I didn’t feel any intimidation.

Kalki at Aqua, The Park, on Tuesday. Pictures: B. Halder

In Waiting, a young woman forms a bond with an elderly man. How did you strike that chemistry with Shah?

We had a nice emotional connect. We didn’t do too much intellectualisation. We read the scenes a few times, then we tried it out physically. We didn’t talk about what was wrong. It was like, there is something wrong somewhere... let’s change something and let’s do it again.... It was never planned. I think it’s great. I don’t know what it is! We just get along really well.

There is a strange father figure as well as a lover. Sometimes we just fall in love with a person… it doesn’t have to be romantic love. No matter how emphatic you are, if you are not going through it, you are not going to understand the situation.

Have you ever gone through such a situation in life?

I never had somebody in a coma but I definitely had family members who have been in a very serious condition in hospital. Being in the hospital for two months, going there every day, the smell of Dettol, waiting for reports and the doctors to come… I can relate to that, and how you have to cheer somebody up and not make it all depressing.

What about making friends on the way?

Not in a hospital. (Laughs) Yeah, I am sure many.... You know, I do a lot of travelling and I meet a lot of friends. I became friends with an Uber driver in LA. He is a completely American-born kid who went to south India and learnt some Sanskrit and Tamil. We were chatting. He spoke in Tamil. You never know when you meet somebody interesting.  

Your choice of films is different and varied. How do you do that?

I just go by my instinct. One, if I don’t look at my phone and stop in between while reading a script, that’s a good sign! Two, when I read a script and immediately after, I want to google the subject. You know, curiosity opens your mind. And, what is the third thing? (Thinks hard) Oh, I don’t have a third thing! (Giggles)

Women directors are giving you great roles...

I don’t know what’s going on, ya! (Looks shocked) What is this with women directors coming my way?! Anu (Menon, Waiting), Shonali (Bose, Margarita, with a Straw), Zoya (Akhtar, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara) What can I say? It’s great! (Smiles)

You think it’s coincidence?

Complete coincidence! I think we are in a place where more women directors are coming up. The women’s perspective in scriptwriting is becoming more important.


What’s your idea of relaxation? 

I don’t understand what is this thing about sunbathing! I don’t understand the concept. Are you a steak that you are roasting on a beach? Tel laga ke aise roast kar rahe ho… pagal hain kya! (Laughs) Learn to ski, sail or dive. I like some adventure or I like to read or something where I can occupy myself… mind or body!

Aren’t you doing a TV show?

I have just finished a travel show, The Great Escape, for Fox Life. It will come on air in August. It’s me and my father (Joel Koechlin, above) motorbiking through Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya.

How do you juggle films and stage?

Hmm… somewhere it falls in place. There are times when I have a lot of films, then I do less theatre for a while. Last year, it was only theatre since I was directing my play (The Living Room) for six months. I didn’t do any films. Now, more film work is coming, so I have kept theatre aside. It’s balance... I enjoy both, so it just falls in place.

People loved you in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara…

I am waiting for such offers. ya. I keep saying this, why aren’t you offering me more films?! I enjoy doing commercial films as much as independent films.    

What about Konkona Sensharma’s directorial debut, A Death In The Gunj? How’s your Ek Thi Daayan co-star as a director?

I just finished Koko’s film. She is very experienced because she has worked with her mother (Aparna Sen). She is a very specific director. She knows what she wants. She knows each frame really well. She is an editor as well as a director. It makes it easier. She maps it out very clearly. It was nice because she got out a new side to me that I haven’t tried before. It’s a very sexual, beautiful character. Then, there is Mantra, directed by Nicholas Khargonkar. All these films are going to festivals now.

What’s your next online venture after The Printing Machine?

I am acting in a web-series called Smoke. Eros is producing it. It’s based on the mafia in Goa and the politics, the drugs and the land grabbing. We have a very intelligent youth that lives off social media and web content. There is a lot less censorship and there is lot more freedom to explore with different topics, so it’s a great platform.



Ratnalekha Mazumdar
Like Kalki, what do you wait for in life? Tell