Though she played a prostitute in Dev D, it was the good girl Paro who had the steamier scenes. Kalki Koechlin, the fresh-faced Chanda of Anurag Kashyap’s take on Devdas, is wary of doing “daring scenes in India”, but while in town to make her theatre debut in Delhi, she tells HT City that if the setting is right, then she would just do it.
The play, The Skeleton Woman, is based on a folk tale from Women Who Run With The Wolves. Kalki has written the script herself. Her character, a young wife, tries to keep her husband, a writer, grounded in reality. There doesn’t seem to be any scope for ‘daring scenes’ here, but theatre can demand a lot of its actors — on a movie set, intimate scenes are filmed with only a few crew members around; on the stage, an actor has to drop clothes and inhibitions in front of a live audience, as Nicole Kidman did in The Blue Room and Daniel Harry Potter Radcliffe did in Equus.
Is India ready for it? Audiences are more open now, Kalki points out. “The Vagina Monologues was accepted here, despite the explicit sexual conversation.” She does not dismiss the idea of stage nudity. “If the context demands it, I am ready to push the bar,” she states.
Kalki’s unusual looks give rise to more expectations from her. “I do have this unconventional thing about me,” she says, “but I’m very Indian. I’ve lived here all my life except for the three years in London when I studied drama.” Her first two plays, Casanova and Hair, were with The Company Theatre last year. The Skeleton Woman, her third play and the first in Delhi, has been produced by Kashyap, also her live-in partner.
In this, at least, the actress is unconventional, living her life openly. “Mom was worried,” says Kalki about her family’s reaction to her moving in with Kashyap. “But once they met him, they loved him. You know, me and Anurag are like two teenagers, madly in love with each other.”