When Kalki Koechlin agreed to do a satirical video It's Your Fault on the rape crime, she never thought it would have such a huge impact. The actress says, "It all began with Tanmay Bhatt getting in touch with me. He didn't say what it was about. He just said he wanted to do a comic skit with me. I refused, as I was really busy at that time. But he insisted. So I told him to send the script. When I read it I was blown by the whole treatment of the rape issue."
Kalki feels she is the right woman to convey the grim issue in a satirical tone. "I have a deadpan sense of humour. We all are so frustrated by the rampancy of rape. We all want to do something about it. This is my way of letting the world know what I feel about it."
There has been a large number of protests against the film's humorous treatment of the rape theme. "We were very nervous about people's reaction. We wondered if they'd get the sarcastic tone. Would people accept us joking about such a sensitive topic?"
But the feedback they got for the video before its release was heartening. "Friends reacted so well. But we never expected the video to go viral in such a way. People really got the point. That's fantastic. In fact we've been told to translate the English-language video into other Indian languages to make it accessible to a larger audience. Tanmay is working on a Hindi version of the video."
Kalki defends the concept stoutly, "We didn't want to force-feed the message. At the same time we wanted the point to get across without accusing anyone. As for those who didn't like it, I guess there will always be people who criticize what you do. If you are in the limelight you might as well be used to it."
Speaking on the issue of rape, Kalki says, "There is no magic wand which we can wave and do away with the problem. We all can do our bit. People asked me if our viral video will make a difference. I am happy if it makes some difference. Everyone should their bit, like Farhan Akhtar's MARD campaign."
Kalki feels gender sensitization is an issue we need to address seriously. "Male and female children need to be treated equally in all homes. Girls are over-protected, not allowed to do many things. Boys grow up thinking they can do what they like. And that is extended to violence against women."
Kalki feels it is wrong to blame cinema for the increase in crime against women. "To blame Bollywood or the way a woman dresses for the rapes is ridiculous. Women in Sarees and Salawar-Kameez are getting raped. 5-year old children are raped. In such cases, rape has nothing to do with women dressing provocatively. I don't think rape would stop if actresses stopped wearing bikinis and doing item numbers."
Kalki feels actors and other artistes have a social responsibility. "Our cinema should take the subject of sex seriously and women should have more powerful roles in cinema And innovative ideas like our video surely helps. There is a growing audience for films that address women's issue. The fact that our video 'It's Your Fault' has reached out to so many people proves there's a socially aware audience out there. A friend's boyfriend told her not to wear a skimpy t-shirt to go out. Then he saw our video and he stopped telling her what to wear and what not."
Kalki feels there is not enough theatres to show serious issue-based cinema. "We have a great deal of variety in films but not enough space for it. I just hope we find the balance."
I asked Kalki if she would be willing to work in a sex comedy like Grand Masti
. The actress laughed, "I don't think so. I need to relate to a film and to my character. I haven't seen Grand Masti
. I can't comment on it. But as a thinking woman I won't do something I won't relate to. I do a film if I like my character. I didn't have the main role in Ayan Mukerji's Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
but I liked the script. Right now I am doing a girl-bonding film Jiah Aur Jiah
. We have so many male-bonding films. So this is a change."