JP NAGAR: Kalki Koechlin is not a regular Bollywood actor if her choice of roles is anything to go by. She is the quintessential outsider who is now almost a mainstream star. And someone who can juggle a Karan Johar production with a Margarita With A Straw. She is also an activist for gender rights and someone unafraid to speak her mind about complex issues, be it child sexual abuse or rape.
Then of course, there is her love for theatre and the fact that her journey as an actor began on stage under the watchful eye of Atul Kumar. It was logical then that she would at some point find her own theatrical voice and she has, with a new company called, Little Productions.
Kalki is now bringing her first production, The Living Room, to town. She has written the play (that has a tenuous connect with a Woody Allen short) and has also directed it. The Living Room, featuring Jim Sarbh, Neil Bhoopalam, Tariq Vasudeva and Sheeba Chadha, will be showcased on July 24, 25 and 26 at Ranga Shankara. Excerpts from an interview with the artiste:
You have had a long and rewarding connect with theatre...
Theatre is a training ground, it’s a place to experiment. With films, one can’t take too many risks because the costs are much more. I don’t think I could direct a film until I have a better understanding of the technical side of filmmaking, but I would love to write more for films.
Describe the Woody Allen influence.
Actually, I read the Woody Allen play after I wrote this piece. But I am influenced by his work, in which the theme of death and impermanence is often found. Death is what makes us value life and be depressed at the same time...it just depends on how you look at it. I thought that was an exciting idea to explore.
And the cast?
I just got lucky with my cast because I called up the actors I really wanted, did one reading with them and they were all on board for the play.
Do your sensibilities as an actor undergo a certain change when you go from theatre to cinema?
I think I began paying more attention to detail after being in a play and then getting on a film set. I learnt the value of riyaaz, rehearsal and repetition and all this helps me detail my film roles too.
How did directing actors as powerful as Sheeba Chaddha and Neil Bhoopalam challenge you?
On one hand, it is wonderful because they bring so much more to my play. They are experienced and spontaneous so they keep adding layers to the characters. On the other hand, the challenge is to hold them back when things have to get finalised and solidified, having to get them to repeat things.
After Margarita With A Straw, would you like to work on similar films?
No new films are on the cards. I am just waiting for the next gem of a script to come by.
You are constantly reinventing yourself...
There are many things to do. I like singing. I like teaching kids. I used to teach kids when I was a student in London. At some point it would be nice to go in that direction.