A National Award-winning actress and a vociferous supporter of gender equality, Kalki Koechlin doesn’t believe in mincing words. Terming Bollywood as patriarchal as the Indian society, the actor said in an interview to TOI, “I once met a producer who asked me about my age and I said, 30. To this, he replied, ‘Don’t worry, you still have five years left.’ Another producer showed me the exact spot on my face where I needed to get a botox.”
While applauding women-oriented films such as Piku and Queen, she said pay parity in the industry is a far cry, “You only get paid more than a man if you are Priyanka Chopra.”
A Special Jury Award went to Kalki earlier this year at the National Film Awards for her performance as a young woman afflicted with cerebral palsy in Margarita, With A Straw. Come May 27, she will again charm audiences with her act in Waiting.
Another award-winning performance? “I don’t want to think about awards because it should be a happy surprise and not a disappointment that ‘Oh I didn’t get an award. I can’t live for awards. I need to live for work. My award is work. If I get more work from this film, then that’s the biggest award,” Kalki told IANS in an interview.
“It’s important that the movie does well at the box office because that will allow more faith in studios to put money into these kind of scripts,” she added.
The trailer of the film directed by Anu Menon, produced by Ishka Films and Drishyam Films, shows how her and veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah’s characters come together due to pain. It also depicts how his character remains aloof from social media unlike Kalki’s character.
Was she successful in convincing the veteran actor to join social networking sites? “I haven’t managed to convince him to get on Twitter although I told him it’s very useful. He has fake accounts, so he is very upset. He is like ‘Who are these people who create fake accounts?’ ‘Who has that kind of time?’ We’ve had funny conversations about social media,” said the star.
For Kalki, her followers and friends from the digital world are very important. “The kind of work that I do... my theatre and all gets spread because of social media. But, yes, it’s also important to switch off from it sometimes as we think it’s the whole world. It’s just the virtual world,” she said.
What about stardom? Is she tired of it? “I am lucky enough to have a good balance. I am not ‘so so’ famous that I can’t walk on the streets. I can still go and buy some tomatoes on the road. Maybe, two or three selfie requests. But that’s okay,” said the actress, who feels glad that she doesn’t get stereotyped.
Despite tasting success in Bollywood, she is still in love with the stage. “I always loved theatre. For me as an actor, it’s a place to practise your art. It’s like muscle. Some people need to go to the gym to make muscles bigger, I go to theatre to make my acting better,” she said and added that she is looking forward to flying to the US in July for a play.
Apart from that, she also has a documentary in her kitty. Is it based on the Jawaharlal Nehru University row? “I am doing a documentary about India and the progress of our country... how the country has changed over the years. It just happened that I was in Delhi at that point (in March) when JNU march was happening. Somebody took a photograph of me and assumed that my documentary was about the students. But it’s not. We are still shooting, so I can’t talk about it,” Kalki concluded.