It was a warm February afternoon in Mumbai, the kinds which, with their erratically fluctuating moods, leave footprints either in the form of a slightly high body temperature or an irritating cold. And as we sat down with the radiant, ravishing and super cool Kalki Koechlin, who was re-energising with a tiny sandwich, she was feeling under the weather too.
But, setting the tone for our conversation, the actress made absolutely zero fuss about being unwell and showed up in her usually chatty avatar. She had been championing the cause of women empowerment earlier that day at United Colors of Benetton’s #UnitedByHalf campaign and opened up to us about feminism, her life’s biggest regrets, future aspirations and more. Excerpt:
What does this campaign mean to you personally?
Such campaigns hold a special importance for me one because I’m a woman and it’s in my best interest for women to become more empowered in the society. Two, I like fashion and this event is about equality and non-discrimination, so I’m glad to be a part of this.
I have been born in a very lucky family. I’ve been brought up very equally to my brother. So I’ve even learnt to change tyres from a very young age. Unfortunately that’s not the case with everyone. We treat our boys and girls very differently. A person can be so many things. We should allow for them to think that they can become anything. Though, we still have a long way to go. But the fact that everyone is talking about it, it is no more a marginalised thing.
What have been your biggest achievements and regrets in life?
My biggest achievement was my National Award! Also, the fact that I’ve tried to stay in touch with reality (is an achievement for me). As you become more famous, there is a tendency to cut off with the reality. But fortunately, I have some very valuable friends who slap me into place and bring me back to reality.
However, I’m always frustrated with my Hindi. It’s not a regret but it’s something that I have to keep working on. I also regret as a kid for not having taken Bharatnatyam classes. I love dancing but I can’t dance to save my life. I’d quit after a year of classes but I wish I had kept going. At some point, I’d want to go back to dance classes.
What are the things you have that other actresses in the industry don’t?
I have really distinctive teeth (laughs)! I love my Bugs Bunny-Julia Roberts smile going on. My identity crisis is actually a strength as well, the fact that I’m French and Indian, that I’m not from anywhere but from everywhere. I can speak Tamil and French and English so that helps you as an actor. Also I’ve heard that people admire me for my quirkiness and unusualness. So yeah!
Who are the directors that you would want to work with in the future?
I’ve always wanted to work with Vishal Bhardwaj, he’s fantastic. I’d love to work with most of the directors that I’ve worked with again. So there’s the links of Zoya Akhtar, Ayaan Mukherjee, Aditya Motwani. Even someone like Soojith Sircar is very good.
What new projects are you working on?
Apart from Mantra that is releasing on March 3, I’m shooting a web series called Smoke for Eros Now, which is happening in Goa. I play a Portuguese DJ so I’m learning the language for the same. It’s great fun! I’m also working n a film called Scholarship that revolves around the life of a kid from the slums, who is trying to get a scholarship. It mostly talks about the stark differences between the wealthy and the poor in the society.