The quirky cute and compelling Kalki Koechlin opens her heart out to Subhash K Jha.
You have gone through some major upheavals in your life… How have those developments in your life changed your attitude to love life and marriage?
It has made me more private as a person. I used to wear my heart on my sleeve and be very candid about my love life but that proved very painful when I went through my break-up. So now I realise the importance of a private life and an inner life away from media attention.
Theatre and cinema…you are part of both now. Which medium do you prefer?
I love both. Theatre is my first love and my training ground, film internalises and intensifies.
For a very long time Bollywood cinema seemed unsure of where to slot you. Do you feel at home in Bollywood now?
I feel happy with the work I’ve done and lucky to have met the people I’ve worked with. I have a good relationship with all my co-actors and directors, but I do have a social life that is outside of Bollywood.
You seem to have finally found your metier as an actress. Do tell me about the films that you are doing?
I have three films in the pipeline. Jia Aur Jia which is a chick flick of sorts with me and Richa Chadda. Margarita With A Straw, which is a film about disability and love. And Happy Ending which is an out and out rom-com with Saif Ali Khan and Ileana D Cruz.
You’re also very active as a social activist. How and where did you discover this aspect of your life?
I guess it just happened by chance in the sense that I kept getting invited to various talks here and there which were outside the bounds of cinema and Bollywood where people wanted my opinion on other things and well you know me, I tend to voice my opinion.
Looking back at your body of work so far, which would you say have been the turning points in your career?
I think Dev D was itself a turning point because it was such an iconic film to start my career with. Then my first commercial film Zindagi Na Milegi Dobaara really put me out there in Bollywood. Personally as an actor though, I learnt most on Dibakar Bannerjee’s film Shanghai.
Bollywood tends to look at non-conventional women in a typical way. How and how far have you managed to break the rules of the male gaze in Bollywood?
I don’t know. Some people still tell me I don’t have the right look for certain films and keep trying to stereotype me into dark roles but it’s also changing with the comic role I did in Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani, and I guess an actor’s biggest challenge and satisfaction comes from breaking their own limitations and moulds.
Bollywood and the single woman… is the film industry a comfortable place for a single woman?
I think it is an uncomfortable space to be a woman in India full stop. I feel we actually have more freedom to express and fight for what we want in an industry like Bollywood, because we are making careers that are not dependent or answerable to anyone.
What do you feel about the kind of cinema that makes big money at the box-office? Are you comfortable watching them and do you think you fit into them? You did one, Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani?
I loved my experience in YJHD so I can’t criticise commercial cinema at large. There are some films I relate to and some I don’t.
You are undoubtedly multi-faceted, where do you see yourself a year from now?
I hope to be having a good balance between theatre and film, I hope to work on scripts that surprise me, with directors that push my limits, I hope to write more. I definitely want to direct a play by next year.
Is film direction an option you are serious considering?
I don’t know if I have the technical know-how to direct film. So I’m not seeing that in the near future.But I wouldn’t rule it out completely. Who knows about tomorrow? And who knows that better than me?