Kalki Koechlin: ‘I don’t want to throw my baby into the media, I am not going to hide it in a cupboard either’
Kalki Koechlin is busy juggling multiple work assignments, trying to wrap them up as soon as possible before she welcomes her baby. The actor and her partner Guy Hershberg are expecting their first child, due in January. Kalki has made it clear that she will bring the baby into the world via natural birth.
Kalki, who’s still basking in the success of Gully Boy and Sacred Games season 2, still has a lot on her platter until she goes on her maternity leave. The actor is hosting the BBC podcast – My Indian Life and is also in the talks for Made In Season 2. Amid all this, she is happily learning lullabies in several Indian and international languages for the baby.
The adventure lover and yoga enthusiast spoke to Hindustan Times about life during pregnancy, her mantra to deal with negativity and the many preparations she is making before the little one arrives. Excerpts:
This year has been very successful for you, personally and professionally. How’s life treating you right now?
I can’t complain, it is pretty good.
After the response for Gully Boy and Sacred Games, what kind of work offers you are looking for?
Right now, I’m doing this podcast for BBC which is my second season with them – My Indian Life. After that, I’m not looking for work offers. I’m looking to take a break – a three-month maternity leave. I am not too worried about work because there are many things coming up like we are discussing Made In Heaven season 2. I will come back to work after April next year as I need some of this time for myself and for my baby since it’s my first birth.
You have played several fantastic characters so far. Which character is closest to your heart?
There are many characters that have made a big impact on my life -- Laila of Margarita with a Straw was a very difficult challenge for me and it has always stayed with me for the amount of work I had put in. Aditi from Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani has always been a very candid, easy character that I’ve enjoyed playing because I think I was quite similar to her when I was a teenager.
You have been learning lullabies for your baby? What are other preparations that you are doing?
I have learnt some lullabies – one Tamil lullaby called Kanne Kanmani which is from the Life of Pi; I am learning a Bengali one right now. I have also learnt one in Portuguese and one in French. I am enjoying playing the ukulele and that’s pretty nice. They say that babies can start hearing from 27 weeks so it’s nice to have these good influences around. I have to take it step by step for every trimester there are new challenges. Thankfully, I have a wonderful midwife who’s helping me prepare for labour and is also teaching me about breastfeeding and about all the things a baby needs in the first few months.
What is the one major change in your life as an expectant mother?
Firstly, there are changes in the body. My first few months were really horrible because I was vomiting and had terrible morning sickness. I couldn’t understand how do people do this, how do they have babies. Only in the fifth or sixth month, I started really enjoying the process. And, of course, in terms of planning, I am spending the right amount of time looking after my health, looking after what I am putting into my body. Everything you do starts to affect you as now you start taking care of another human being like how you cross the road.
I am doing a podcast where I’m interviewing people on wonderful things like environment and nanotechnology, these are all the future. I keep thinking about what my child is going to come into. You become more conscientious I guess.
How active are you these days as you used to do biking and other adventure sports?
I am missing my bike for sure as I used to go biking regularly. Obviously, now I am not biking but am looking forward to getting back on my bike afterwards. I also played basketball on a regular basis so I had to stop that. I had to stop every impact based work. But I continue to do swimming and practice yoga because I have to be very fit if I want to have a natural birth.
You waited for quite a few months to share the good news with the world. Why?
It was something which any doctor will recommend you -- to not share the news immediately because there are a lot of risks involved in the first trimester. 20% miscarriages happen during that time. You have to be very careful with yourself. Nazar na lag jaye to thoda dhyan se rakhna hai. I only told close family members and friends. But I can’t hide it once the bump is out and it was a relief to get it (news) out.
You recently met Kareena Kapoor on her chat show What Women Want? She was even heard saying that you have such a tiny baby bump. Did she give you a piece of advice?
She has been a fantastic example in terms of handling her work life, her baby, her health and her body. She was an inspiration as I was telling her how she’s been one of the first mothers in Bollywood to pave the way for it -- not to be a shocking thing for women to work during pregnancy. I’m glad I could go on a show and talk about it.
This is the era of star kids who have become more popular than their celebrity parents. Would you like to protect your kid from the constant media attention or let things be?
I think we need to have a balanced approach. I don’t want to throw my baby into the media that the baby has only media attention all the time. I want my child to experience things any normal child would have like friends in different circles of life and who come from different social strata. I don’t want to stop my child from playing with children from different economic backgrounds and things like that. That’s important for me. But at the same time, I understand that we live in a social media world. I’m not going to hide my baby in a cupboard. I will have to find that balance.
How do you deal with the negative comments on social media? Do they hurt you at all?
Sometimes they affect you when you are having a bad day and someone tells you ‘you are ugly’ or ‘you are immoral’. Any human will be affected! But that’s what meditation and yoga has taught me. It’s not that negativity doesn’t exist, you don’t need to take it personally. Usually that person is having a bad day and is getting it out. There are so many reasons that you don’t know where it is coming from. Meditation has helped me to be away from the public opinion.
I have made peace with the fact that this is my life. I am going to have people who love me and people who hate me for who I am. They don’t really know me and the details of my life. So it has to be taken in the same stride. The value I have for criticism comes from the people who do know me -- my peers, my colleagues, my family, who can see the progress I’m making or the failures I’ve had and that advice I listen to.
When do you plan to tie the knot?
We haven’t set any time yet. This pregnancy was unexpected. We thought we would have a child in around two years but since it happened earlier, we don’t want that to be the pressure to get married. When we feel the time is right, we will decide. Marriage for me is only for practical purposes like in terms of registering it for the sake of the child, for the schooling. I’m not too keen on it from a religious perspective. Neither of our families are pressurising us.
Author tweets @ruchik87
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