Heavenly Bodies

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In a time where star kids are born to rule the silver screen and social media is swamped with cookie-cutter celebrities, there still exists a small yet impactful group of actors who make us want to watch a movie for the storyline and characters above everything else. On a quiet Saturday morning, Kalki Koechlin walks in red-nosed and languid; she’s under the weather, yet shows up before time for the shoot. Even with a flu, Kalki appears calm, and is effortless in front of the camera, something that by now is second nature to her. She’s a fighter, a sincere actor and a beautiful woman all at once. And while the success of Gully Boy and Made in Heaven is still settling in, we catch up with the effervescent Kalki and find out what she’s up to next.

Is your choice of roles deliberate or an extension of who you are as a person?

Isn’t that the same thing? Who I am as a person is an extension of deliberate conscious choices.

Your biggest influences as an actor.

Anamika Huksar, Adil Hussain, Shaupon Da, Adi Shakti, Robert Lepage and Simon McBurny.

Your most challenging role and a role you felt you could’ve done differently in retrospect. 

Most challenging was Margarita with a Straw for obvious reasons. And I think I could have played Ruth in That Girl in Yellow Boots with a bit more of a sense of humour, rather than always intense. Playing with contrasting and sometimes opposing emotions in a character is something I’m definitely learning along the way…

From the time you started acting to now, what’s changed in the Indian Film Industry?

Web series have been the big change in terms of format and content; work is up for grabs for anyone who’s got talent, which is a great relief.

A character you’d like to play (real or fictitious). 

I’d love to play a goofy, clumsy, but lovable sort of character in a rom-com, to get a break from the intense work I usually do!

What motivates you? 

Love, good stories, hunger, dissatisfaction, good days, bad days, and getting old.

A character you’d like to play (real or fictitious). 

I’d love to play a goofy, clumsy, but lovable sort of character in a rom-com, to get a break from the intense work I usually do!

In a time where everything is influenced and everyone
is an influencer, how does one keep their individual
identities intact?

Switch your phone off. Read a book.
Talk to people, listen to their opinions, even when they are different from yours. Travel to parts of the world where you don’t speak the language or know the culture. Learn something that activates a new part
of your brain. Keep a journal or some kind of track of your daily patterns and habits to see where you get stuck repeatedly and work on those.

No one can be you in the place of you, be responsible for who you are.

Your favourite actors of all time?

Daniel Day Lewis, Juliette Binoche, Jodie Foster, Tabu, Naseeruddin Shah.

Art vs Commerce, who wins eventually?

Commerce wins in a human lifespan but art always survives the holocausts and the world wars and is what makes the human race evolve.

Upcoming projects?

A film called Emma and Angel by R. Arvind is in the works, and I’m joining
an existing web series as a new character in its second season. I can tell you about it, but then I’d have to erase your memory.

Photographed by Vijit Gupta

Styled by Shirin Salwan 

Hair and Makeup by Clover Wootton, Anima Creative Management

Location courtesy Terttulia, Mumbai

Assisted by Aishwarya Ray and Simran Malhotra

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