Kalki Koechlin opens up about her character Batya in Sacred Games 2, and how integral she is to the answers that the show’s fans are waiting for. What made you come on board for Sacred Games?
We also heard that you auditioned for the second season of the show. Tell us more about it. I had already seen the first season and had also enjoyed it as an audience.
At that point, I didn’t even know that I was going to be a part of the second season. Then I got a call for an audition. And, I haven’t got a call for an audition in a long time. So, I was super nervous.
The audition scene was really nice but it had a lot of strong Hindi words and they asked me if I can come for the audition that same day and I was like, ‘No, no, I need two days to learn my lines properly’.
Tell us something about your character.
My character, Batya, is 37 years old and is very calm and has all the answers to her life. No matter what you say, she answers very calmly.
And, that’s what you think she is but when there is pressure and when the plot thickens, you will figure out that she also has darker sides, which are based on the fact that she had a troubled childhood.
What’s her story? How did she end up in an ashram?
So, the backstory is that she is born to a Palestinian mother and a Jewish father and she grows up in France.
At some point, her mother left her and went back to Palestine so she grew up with a sense of abandonment and emptiness. She runs away from the house, does drugs – she is basically looking for something – that’s how she ends up in the ashram in Croatia.
And, would she be having a direct link to all the answers that we are waiting for?
She has a direct link. She definitely has some answers. Your character speaks pure Hindi but also has a French accent. Tell us about the preparation that you undertook for this role.
With Hindi, I am a lot more confident now from what I used to be. I still need my lines in advance. So, I put a pen in my mouth (between my lips) and rehearse my lines. So, Hindi is still a challenge but the accents are fun.
I love trying a new things and for the French accent, I have a mother who has a very strong French accent. So I had to keep her in mind.
The spectrum of the work that you do is very vast –theatre, short films, videos carrying a social message, commercial films, independent films. How do you go about choosing your next work? And, what has been the most memorable work of yours?
Originality. Also, you are looking for different things at different times. In the beginning, I was very frustrated with having to play just dark and bold roles, I found it refreshing to do a light character in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani.
Even after Margarita–, I started getting roles of people with disabilities, so breaking those stereotypes is a big thing for me. But, largely, you get 15 scripts and 14 of them are bad and one is good. So, you say yes to the good one (laughs).
My most memorable work so far has been Margarita With A Straw. It was a very challenging role that I did and it was received very well.
What matters more to you — commercial or critical success?
Both. Sometimes I have done a great script at a very low cost, with very little production and in a few days of the shoot and on other times, the project and the platform are bigger.
But, that has never been my first reason. If I like the script and my character, then I start thinking about other practical things — will this film be made, is there good financial backing, etc.