The work of a Bollywood Journalist is very tiring and repetitive at times. But, when you get to meet an actress, who is quite chilled and loves talking about almost everything, it doesn’t make you feel tiring at all! Today, in an exclusive interview with Kalki Koechlin, we felt exactly the same thing. She is fun, chirpy and bold. Her positive energy is so contagious which made me feel relaxed during the interview.
Kalki is currently busy promoting her upcoming movie, Ribbon which also stars Sumeet Vyas. The movie is directed by Rakhee Sandilya and is slated to release on November 3, 2017.
Today, when we caught with Kalki, she spoke about a lot of interesting things. Speaking about her unconventional roles to digital content, she spoke about almost everything that you would want to know. She also cleared about her comment which was reported in various news publications. Clearing about all the things, she just said, “I am very much a part of this industry and fit perfectly in Bollywood!”
Excerpts from the interview:
You are known for doing some great and unconventional roles. What was so different in this one that really excited you to take up? And was it an instant yes?
The first thing I googled after reading the script was can a woman have sex when she is six months pregnant (laughs). Because I haven’t seen like that. And you can! So there’s so much real information in the film. So I could tell my director had really researched it, whether its maternity leave or the problems that are there. So, I loved the relatability. And its every urban couple’s story today, every newlywed married couple…both are working but they want children and you are not living as before we used to live with our grandparents. We are alone, so how to balance all of that. And it wasn’t an instant yes because she’s a first-time filmmaker, plus I didn’t know at that time they didn’t have producers or a banner. So, I wanted to know more about Rakhee. She sent me the documentary film and that was called ‘My Baby Not Mine’ and its on the surrogacy in Gujarat. So I found that Rakhee had a very strong voice as a filmmaker. She had a very good handle on what she wanted to do. So, that’s what convinced me.
By looking at the trailer, it looks different and unusual. Tell us something about your character.
Sahana is an ambitious young girl, she is very good at her job, early in the film she gets a promotion, her boss loves her and of course, she gets pregnant and its the wrong time. She’s like ‘I am just climbing the corporate ladder and I am not ready for a kid.’ But somehow the love between the couple makes them decide to have the baby. And then its the struggle of how she has to go back to work and then handle a child, also keep the marriage together. And it spans over four years…so there are lot of changes that happen to Sahana. Sumeet’s character is a typical nice guy husband, everything seems perfect about him, he’s working as an engineer and is very supportive for his wife. But when things get really difficult and when there’s a pressure, then you see the switch. So yes, it an interesting character for him also.
Did you relate to the character? And if not, then was it difficult to work on your character?
The Sahana, in the beginning, I can relate to. She’s a girl with very little filters, she says what she thinks all the time, she is passionate. But I think the Sahana that she becomes 3-4 years later, is quite different from me. A lot of research we did. I spent a lot of time with the young mothers…my producer’s relative just had a baby 10 days before, so I was with them. I saw how they did the maalish and breastfeeding and also the pump to take the milk out, when you are a working mother you keep pumping out the milk, also nappy changing… I have become a pro, it’s a great preparation for the future (laughs).
You have left your mark with a lot of performances, how do you really choose your films?
Every time its different. Sometimes, it might just be so refreshing that I am doing something like comedy because people don’t usually expect me to do that. Sometimes its the script because its so powerful and so relevant that I feel moved by the story. Sometimes its just big commercial film, you want as many people to watch it. So every time it is different but I do think that I try to look for how I can make the character believable, convincing, relatable or real.
In Ribbion, you are starred opposite the Internet heartthrob, Sumeet Vyas. How was the experience of working together?
I haven’t worked with him but I know him from theatre and we are all the same bunch of friends…Yaari Roaders! (Smiles) He is very good with improvisation because with this script what we did was we read the script once and then we would just do it in our own way. And sometimes he comes up with some great lines as he is good at writing also. He is a great co-star to work with. And he is cute also (laughs).
Were you at any point of time apprehensive about taking this project since Rakhee is making her debut as a director?
That’s why I wanted to see her previous film. She had made a documentary. So that was what convinced me. But you know, also when I met her I saw the amount of authentic research she has done and I saw that she was so passionate about it. So, that is always convincing.
Kalki, you have always amazed your fans with your performances. Be it movies or digital content. Fans and critics have always loved your work. How do you really manage to impress us every time?
(Laughs) I don’t know. I don’t sleep. You have to do something that you believe in some way or the other. And I try to be believable in whatever part…especially in a film, you have very little control because you are one part of the bigger project. So there are other actors, then there is editing… So you don’t know where the script will go eventually. But whatever you can do to make the character lovable or adorable or hatable but real then you have got your audience. If you don’t believe in your character, no one else will believe in your character. So that’s my basic. And it’s the same with my writing and poetry. I can’t write about breast cancer. I really care about it, it is a very serious subject but it hasn’t happened to me or anyone I know or it is not something that I am personally related to, then it is hard for me to do that. Things I go through every day or I feel everyday, I can write about it easily. You always start from a place where you are personally relating to.
Ever since you started your journey, you have evolved as an actress. How would you sum it up? Also, has the working style in Bollywood changed?
I think it is constantly changing, constantly people are having to change according to what people want. And today, because of the internet content that we have, we want more choice. That’s what is happening in today’s cinema. People are wanting to watch and that’s why a film like Bareilly Ki Barfi, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan…they are all working as well. Newton, very good film and simultaneously Golmaal Again is working. So, we are growing as an audience of what kind of cinema we want.
You personally have been a part of several digital contents. So do you think today audiences are preferring digital content more than films?
I think that it is going to be the future. Everyone is on their smartphones and IPads. While travelling from work, we are watching something all the time. So, that content is going to keep growing. But that doesn’t mean that people will stop going to the theatres. Because ultimately human beings are social animals. We like to gather in groups. So music festivals, theatres, the cinema will always exist.
Today content-driven films are more accepted than a film which has star power. What do you think is the reason for this? Movies like Masaan, Waiting or Newton for that matter are getting recognised now.
Star power is still very strong I believe. But the stars will change na, the stars would want to do alternative content. That’s what is happening. Deepika Padukone did Piku, Kangana Ranaut did Queen…the stars will also start adapting. Even Aamir Khan is adapting himself. He is looking at what is the relevant subjects, even Akshay Kumar came up with Toilet: Ek Prem Katha. So, star power is there for sure, they are a brand. People come and watch a star. However, stars also starting to consider alternative content. But at the same time, yes there are a lot of newcomers who are unconventional looking! Those people are also being able to get a good career. And I think there is generally no work, there is just more choice of work today than there’s been before.
You recently said that you are a misfit in Bollywood. Why do you say so?
Ye kahan se aaya? Pata nahi who told this. I am not a misfit in Bollywood. They (media portal) asked me, ‘am I a misfit?’ I said, ‘I don’t know. Do you think I am a misfit?’ Uff…no, I am not a misfit. I think I fit perfectly in Bollywood. It is just that I do different work, I don’t do the same work as someone else. Then everyone is a misfit ya! Because everyone is doing what they are good at and what is their strength. I am very much a part of this industry. To call me a misfit is like making me sound like a victim. No ya! I love my job and I love where I am. But yes, I do choose different sorts of cinema from the regular commercial work. I don’t know why this has been said.
Which space do you enjoy doing more? Films or digital?
Both. Both I am sitting in a van and waiting to act (laughs). Same hai…exactly same hai.
Any new projects on the platter?
There’s a film that we had started shooting in the beginning of the year called Scholarship, with me and Kokana Sen Sharma acting in it. It got stuck but now it is back on floor. It for stuck because of some financial reasons. So I will start shooting from November onwards. Then I am doing this web series of Zoya Akhtar. It is for Amazon…it is called Made in Heaven and shooting for it has been a lot of fun. It is about the rich Delhi wedding, how they go wrong.