Kalki Koechlin is one actor in Bollywood today who calls a spade a spade and doesn’t mince her words. She is opinionated and confidently puts across her viewpoint. So when such an artiste signs up on a project, it has to resonate with their personality. And Kalki’s character in her upcoming film A Death in the Gunj is exactly that.
The film is actor Konkona Sen Sharma’s debut directorial and has an ensemble cast including Ranvir Shorey, Vikrant Massey, Tilotama Shome, Jim Sarbh, Gulshan Devaiah, Om Puri and Tanuja, apart from Kalki. Indianexpress.com exclusively spoke to Kalki Koechlin about her past films, present state of mind and future projects. Here are the excerpts from the chat.
After Margherita With A Straw, now A Death In The Gunj. What made you sign this film?
I was desperate to do this film, of course because its Konkona whom I admire as an actor, there was a very good ensemble cast, it had a really beautiful story so there were a lot of reasons. I had to audition, because Konkona wasn’t sure if I was old enough for the role. My character is called Mimi. She is a 35-year-old unmarried woman. She is a writer and a sexually confident woman. She uses her beauty to get what she wants.
How has Konkona Sen Sharma as a director?
I won’t say it was a tough task around her but she is a perfectionist, somebody who wants to detail everything. She is very specific and knew what she wanted.
From Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani to Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara to Margarita With A Straw and A Death In The Gunj, are you experimenting with the type of roles you are signing?
I would love to do more commercial films because then more audience would come and watch my independent films. I think I’m lucky I get to balance between the two but it is not a conscious decision at all. It’s what comes my way. My hunger is to do things what I haven’t done before, anywhere I am not stuck or lost or a stereotyped and I get to try something new is exciting to me.
You don’t shy away from speaking your mind. Where do such thoughts come from?
I talk about these things because they matter to me and they make me think at night. It’s never like ‘Ok, now I’ll write about Feminism.’ It’s like I have a fight with my boyfriend or with my mother at home, I’m crying and I start writing something. So it comes from a very personal space. I never see it something that I have to do. It’s something that comes to me when it means something.
Considering any opinion can be blown out of proportion today, what keeps you going?
I don’t take the backlash too seriously. I don’t sit there and read all the comments. If you did that, it is difficult to believe in yourself. It doesn’t mean that I don’t take criticism, I do that from people who know me well and who tell me the truth but I have stopped taking strangers’ comments like an ultimate comment on my life.
From playing a school girl in Dev.D to a 35-year-old in A Death In The Gunj, how do you rate your career graph?
I don’t do less films because I’m choosy. I do less films because less films get offered to me. I am very lucky to have worked with an eclectic group of people very different in their styles. For me Dibakar Banerjee is one of the best directors in the country. Anurag (Kashyap), of course, another great director but then you have someone like Zoya (Akhtar) from a very commercial space who is also very brilliant and specific. Shonali (Bose) working on a character like Margarita, you know, it’s from such different spaces and ideas. I just had the chance to grow and grow. I haven’t had the chance to be very comfortable. Even though many times I complain that why am I struggling, why am I waiting for a film. But actually I’ve never been bored of my career.
Also read | A Death In the Gunj actor Vikrant Massey: I am dying to work with Tabu
Do you think it’s a good time for experiment in Indian films?
It’s a great time for experiment in cinema. We have more than ever Indian films going to foreign festivals. Regional cinema is doing so well. It’s an interesting time. There’s good competition. With films like Baahubali, Karan Johar has gone and figured it out already. He’s done a smart move with Baahubali. It shows a big budget film is not necessarily based on stars. It’s showing that audiences are also interested in the story and entertainment bit.
Despite having working with an array of directors, Kalki would love to work with filmmakers Abhishek Chaubey, Vikramaditya Motwane, Vishal Bharadwaj, Sonam Nair, among others. Also “Irrfan Khan would be very interesting to work with. Adil Hussain… Ranbir (Kapoor) is very spontaneous and can do that larger than life Bollywood. Kangana Ranaut does some interesting work and she could teach me some good Hindi. My Hindi sucks!”