Enormously talented and disarmingly charming, Kalki Koechlin is not your usual heroine – or even your usual supporting actress. But she doesn’t have a usual background either. Born in Auroville (near Pondicherry) to French parents she grew up in Tamil Nadu and speaks fluent French, English and Tamil. She studied drama in London and even did theatre there for two years before deciding to try her luck in Bollywood.
She debuted in Dev D. Anurag Kashyap’s dark, modernized version of Devdas. Kalki played Chandramukhi (albeit in this version the character was called Leni / Chanda). This was a supporting role and that of a prostitute. Hardly your average debut. Despite the odds, Kalki’s unusual looks and powerhouse performance got notice and accolades (including the FIlmfare Award) – and she rose so high in popularity that she even bagged the Coke advertisement with Imran Khan.
But then her decidedly un-Indian looks got in the way. For almost a year and a half she had no offers except Anurag Kashyap’s films. Nevertheless, she made a mark in every movie she did. She was nominated for awards for almost every role she did – Shaitaan (she was super-awesome as the deeply troubled over-the-edge teen), Shanghai, Zindagi Na Milegi Doobara (one of the most unsympathetic possible characters – but she shone. She is supposed to have got this bit role because of the good offices of her Dev D co-star, Abhay Deol). But it is really with Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani that she is receiving the recognition her talent deserves. As the carefree Aditi, her unbridled performance has really drawn notice. It sure helped that the movie was such a massive success and drew a lot of repeat viewers (including on repeated telecasts on TV).
Kalki has proved her mettle beyond movies too. She has a theatre company and has been seen on stage. But she really earned respect with her “It’s My Fault” – and anti-rape short that she featured in and had gone viral. (At least 80 people in my friends had shared it in the first 2 hours). She had also written a powerful piece against rape just before the video was released. Both, the write-up and the video were a very strong protest in the wake of the Delhi rape case (Nirbhaya).
While her professional life is looking up with Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, the same cannot be said about her personal life. She had started dating Kashyap while filming Dev D and they got married in 2011. But in November 2013, the couple announced their separation. The reason for their separation was Kashyap’s alleged relationship with Huma Qureshi. (Kalki-Huma seem to have a similar story – both debuted with Kashyap; both were nominated for awards for their debut film; both have been linked with Kashyap; both starred in Ek Thi Daayan, both have done unusual roles.) Ever since the separation, Kalki has been low key. She is supposed to be doing a couple of films – here’s hoping that we see a lot more of the feisty actress (remember her introductory scene in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani or the scene where she is throwing challenges at the Sandos in Manali in the same movie?). We surely deserve good stuff, don’t we?
By Sujata Garimella
Image Source: Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani@facebook