From ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ to ‘Margarita with a Straw’. From ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’ to ‘That Girl in Yellow Boots’. Not to forget her roles in OTT series like ‘Made in Heaven’ and ‘Sacred Games’. What has remained constant in actor Kalki Koechlin’s trajectory is her ability to zero in on scripts that promise to give her enough room to deliver.
“Choosing a script… Well, I think it lies more in the gut than in the mind. Something excites my curiosity. Having said that, sometimes I do agree to go ahead because it is good for the commercial viewership or I need the work,” she tells IANS.
Born in Pondicherry to French parents, Koechlin, who spent a significant part of her childhood in Auroville and studied drama and theatre at Goldsmiths, University of London, will soon be seen in Pushan Kripalani’s ‘Goldfish’ that will have its World Premiere at the 27th Busan International Film Festival.
Stressing that she loved Kripalani’s debut film ‘Threshold’ and wanted to work with him since, the actor adds, “This script was just powerful and profound, there was just no question of not doing it. I needed to have an English accent: Occam. That was largely my prep and many readings over zoom as we were surrounded by the Pandemic’s second wave. Pushan did his own camera work and often ran two cameras at the same time for the length of the entire scene. I loved that process, we could react so truthfully and spontaneously.”
Koechlin, who co-wrote the drama ‘Skeleton Woman’, which won her The MetroPlus Playwright Award, and made her directorial debut on stage with the tragicomedy ‘Living Room’ smiles when asked if she still felt like an ‘outsider’. “I feel like an actor. And there is no space big enough to hold all our dramatic endeavours.”
The National-award winning actor feels that while OTT has ascertained much employment and a chance for talent to shine, good content, whether it be in film or OTT is still hard to come by. “If I have anything to crib about, it is that there is too much content to read, and since I always insist on reading the entire thing not just a synopsis, it can get exhausting when the content is not great.”
Koechlin, who recently wrote the book ‘The Elephant in the Womb’, which, among other things talks about the social stigma of abortions and unmarried pregnancies, the toll that pregnancy takes on a body and the unacknowledged domestic labour of women, may not have any plans to write another book soon, but she has surely has learnt how to deal with commentary on her personal life. “Mostly I ignore. Also, I have accepted that as part of the job. If I need privacy, I just switch off my phone.”
Recalling the lockdown days, she says they were hard. “And I happened to have just given birth. It was a lonely time, and the news was so grim I was afraid to get connected with the outside world. The whole period was an emotional grind, but writing ‘The Elephant in the Womb gave me some respite. I was so grateful to have a little part of me still creating, it gave me some routine to the endless feeling of those days.”
The actor, who just shot for ‘Kho Gaye Hum Kahan’ is now working on the third season of her podcast with the BBC ‘My Indian Life’. “I am really hungry to do more theatre. I have not gotten there yet, with the mum and work balance, but hopefully soon,” she signs off.
(Sukant Deepak can be reached at email@example.com)