Among the women-centric and content-driven films to have released last year, Kalki Koechlin’s Margarita with a Straw stands out. The coming-of-age story of Laila, a young girl with cerebral palsy, won
Koechlin a National Award. In an earlier interview, Koechlin said that it was natural to do extensive rehearsal for theatre, but spending six months to prepare for a film role was a first.
This weekend, at Junoon Theatre’s Mumbai Local’s session, the 32-year-old will relive her journey of preparing to play Laila Kapoor. Earlier this week, when we speak to her, she says the nuances of Laila had become a habit by the time she starting shooting. “This session is not just about how to play a differently-abled character. But the focus is on this film because I spent a lot more time preparing for this character than I did on others. Naturally, when one spends so much time on being a character, there’s more detail involved. You understand the psyche better,” Koechlin says.
Margarita... travelled to the Toronto International Film Festival and Busan International Film Festival. But the National Award winner feels the film deserves more recognition. “It is essential for such films to be recognised at fests because only then is some buzz created. For people like us, who are not exactly stars, these things matter,” Koechlin says.
The actor, known for her offbeat choice of films, feels she “entered the industry at the right time”. Some of the earlier films include Dev. D (2009), That Girl in Yellow Boots (2010) and Shaitan (2011). “The definition of commercial cinema is changing. We now have more offbeat movies in mainstream Bollywood — Kangana Ranaut’s, Queen (2014) and Piku (2015) with Deepika Padukone.”
Until last week, Koechlin was vacationing in her home-town, Pondicherry. She confesses to being “a little nervous” as she hasn’t prepared for the session. “I didn’t have the time to prepare. I could have done some homework while I was home. But I was too lazy. I like to believe I perform better under pressure and at the last minute,” says the actor.
However, she adds that, for her, more than listening to such sessions, acting workshops have a deeper impact. She has often been part of workshops conducted by Jehan Maneckshaw and Naseeruddin Shah. But she is clear about not conducting one on her own. “I am still learning. I don’t think I am qualified enough to conduct theatre workshops in a classroom yet,” she says.
Koechlin’s talk Undefining Normal: Finding my character, finding myself will take place on July 2, 5pm onward at MCubed Library, Princess Building, D’Monte Park Road, Bandra (W).
Register on: junoontheatre.org; Entry: Free