Anurag Kashyap’s adaptation of Devdas – Dev.D was acclaimed a masterpiece by all. While every part of the movie is remarkable, we love it for an entirely different reason. The movie introduced us to one of our favourite actors Kalki Koechlin. She plays the role of ‘Leni’, a schoolgirl who turns to prostitution after a sex tape of hers is leaked online. Koechlin is so perfect playing the character that we forget that this is her debut performance. Playing every bit the modern Chandramukhi, she is fearless and cheeky. Kalki adds her own brand of flamboyance to the role and boy, Do we love it.
Born in 1984 to French parents in Pondicherry, Kalki spent the earlier part of her childhood in Bangalore with her mother. Later moving to London at the age of 18, she studied drama and theatre at Goldsmiths. Thus began Kalki’s romance with the theatre, which only deepened with time. Back in India, she acted and worked in numerous plays. She also co-wrote many famous plays like the Skeletal Woman and Colour Blind. One of her most famous works includes the semi-autobiographical That girl in yellow boots, which she co-wrote with now ex husband, Anurag Kashyap.
Over the years, she has been juggling perfectly between art cinema and commercial movies. And she has been power packed with her every avatar. Be it as the annoying South Delhi girl in Zindagi na Milegi Dobara or as the uninhibited Aditi in Yeh Jawani hai Deewani. We loved her as the activist in Shenghai, as much as we loved her as the troubled teen in Shaitaan. With ease she moves into the various characters she plays, and she plays them right.
Kalki’s career best so far is Margrita with a Straw, where she went on to amaze everyone as Margarita. In the movie, she plays a young woman with cerebral palsy. She leaves her home in India to study in New York City, unexpectedly falls in love, and embarks on a journey of self-discovery. Her performance was highly acclaimed. Many compared it to Eddie Redmayne’s performance as Stephen Hawking in the Oscar winning movie, The Theory of Everything.
In a world full of patriarchy, where gender equality seems a myth, Kalki openly identifies herself with feminism. In 2013, she appeared in a video titled It’s Your Fault, along with VJ Juhi Pandey. Dealing with the issue of sexual assault on women, the video brilliantly mocks the mindset that blames the victims for provoking rape. The video was created by All India Bakchod. Needless to say, it went viral with over 150,000 views in the mere span of two days. She also authored an article for Forbes India on the huge gender based gap in remuneration across all spheres. In that she said, “Equal pay won’t happen because there is a hero-based industry. So we need to strive for scripts that empower women, make women our heroes, too.”
She recited a soliloquy entitled An Intense Piece about the Truths of Womanhood on International Women’s Day at the India Today Conclave in March 2014. And it just blew us away with its sheer brilliance. We couldn’t help but chuckle with admiration when she recited “And so, here we are today. Thanks to seduction, Manipulation, but mostly thanks to mother nature and ovulation.”
Last year, Koechlin appeared in a widely loved video called Printing Machine that talked about the approach of media and society towards crimes against women. The five-minute video was released on YouTube that features a poem penned and recited by Koechlin, outlining the sad, current state of women in our country. Find it here:
Kalki is the breath of fresh air in the industry. The industry that categorises its female actors as A) Those who look good but can’t act and B) Those who can act but don’t look good. (Remember Sonam Kapoor on Koffee with Karan? “If you’re saying she’s a good actor, that means she doesn’t look that good naaaa. You know what I mean.” Yes Sonam, sadly we do.) Meanwhile, on personal front we loved the dignified way she handled her divorce with Anurag Kashyap, choosing to remain close friends with his teenage daughter. And there’s nothing to stop us from calling her nothing less than impactful.
Happy Birthday, Kalki! May your tribe increase.
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