In Conversation With Bollywood's Flower Child, Kalki Koechlin
In Conversation With Bollywood’s Flower Child, Kalki Koechlin

Actress, writer and closet beatboxer – all rolled into one

For as long as one can remember, Kalki Koechlin has been one of the most interesting actresses out there. She’s received a National Film Award and was even conferred with the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government. She seems to have left a mark on every genre – from romantic comedies like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani to supernatural thrillers like Daayan and of course, one cannot forget her brilliant performance in Margarita with a Straw.


The 34-year-old has written, produced and acted in numerous award-winning plays and has always been vocal on subjects that her peers usually shy away from. She’s a walking-talking piece of art herself and in an interview with MW, she talks about the changing face of Hindi cinema, her dream character and her resolutions for 2019.


There has been a marked change in the sense that ‘good cinema’ is also raking in the moolah these days and is being given due credit. What do you think has changed?


I think there’s just a lot more competition out there today because of the access to the internet and so many different forms of media. Content has to pick up. The audience is getting more greedy – we’ve had access to Game of Thrones and these big shows abroad and everyone wants to watch different stuff. A good sign is that there’s a film like Badhaai Ho which has a really different storyline about an elder couple and their romance.


Kalki Koechlin in Dev.D


How do you look at your career graph so far and would you change anything about it?


There are many things I want to change. I feel like I messed up or didn’t do a good job on some films or my accent was not right but I also feel like you’re on a learning curve and if I did a perfect film, I’d probably retire. So it’s kind of good that I’m not getting it right – I want to keep acting till I’m 90!


What’s the first thing you look for before signing a film? Script, director, guts?


Many different things. Obviously, if I’ve worked with the person before and I loved working with them, like Zoya (Akhtar), I don’t need to think – I’ll say yes. Usually, when it’s a new director or new platform, I think of the story and if it’s something that’s told in a different way. It’s not that the content or the genre has to be different, you’ll tell the love story again and again but it’s the how and from which perspective it’s being told. Authenticity, something that makes it believable and my character also.


A film (past/present) you wish you were a part of?


I love Pyaasa, it’s one of my favourite films but I don’t know how I’d be cast in that film. I suppose you could do a modern day version of Pyaasa.


Your dream character?


I want to do a rom-com where I get the guy in the end instead of killing him or beating him up. That would be great. Just a nice simple rom-com. Then, I’d like to this historical character, Sister Nivedita. She was this English woman called Margaret Noble who moved to India and followed Swami Vivekananda and she lived in that time . . . on the cusp of British rule before Independence and a lot of things were changing. She was this white British woman in favour of the freedom movement – very interesting dichotomy. That would be a great role to play.


Deepika Padukone and Kalki Koechlin in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani


A secret talent you have that nobody knows about?


Making a fool of myself, I don’t know if that’s a secret talent! I’m also a closet beatboxer.


What are your resolutions for 2019?


Peace. love. Happiness. Taking more holidays. Going diving, going into nature. Doing more long-term projects, as in projects that require a lot of depth. I don’t know if they’re resolutions or wishes. They’re more like wishes.


If you had to get one Bollywood dialogue tattooed, what would it be?


I think this would be my worst nightmare, to wake up in the morning and find a Bollywood dialogue tattooed on my thigh! Maybe “white white face dekho” (from the song Dil Dance Maare in Tashan)!


Koechlin, along with her peers Radhika Apte and Rajkummar Rao, has recently joined hands with Audible, the world’s leading seller and producer of downloadable audiobooks. She’s in august company in this regard – the company has previously worked with Oscar-winning actors, critically acclaimed authors and other leading personalities.



“I had already read Mafia Queens of Mumbai so when they told me that title, I was very excited. I love the stories in this book. Audible is a huge platform abroad and being one of the first actors in India to be launching it is pretty cool considering you’ve had a Nicole Kidman, Robin Williams and so many big actors do it abroad. And I’m an actor, it’s a job and you’ve got to take it,” the actress said on being asked what made her decide to come on board for this project.


(Header credits: @candydbox on Instagram)

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