Kalki Koechlin who made her Bollywooddebut with Dev D directed by Anurag Kashyap, who later became her husband, has come a long way. While initiallyBollywood and Indian cinema found it difficult to slot Kalki’s distinctly Caucasian look and global demeanour, the actress and the Indian movie industry have made peace with her cosmopolitan personality offering her author-backed roles in films like Margarita With A Straw and Waiting.Kalki, who separated from Kashyap two years ago, is also making her presence felt strongly in theatre and regarding social/feminist issues. Her latest film A Death In The Gunj has just been released to tremendous ovation at the Toronto Film Festival.
Konkona Sen Sharma’s directorial debut A Death In The Gunj was very well received at the Toronto film festival?
Yes, I am very happy about that. I wanted to be there in Toronto for the screening. But I was told very late about it. By then I had other engagements. But I am really happy for Konkona. We shot the film in Jharkhand, four hours drive from Ranchi.Logistically it was vey tough for Konkona to cart the entire crew to Jharkhand. But she insisted because the location in the script matched Jharkhand?
How did the crew manage in the wilderness?
Initially we stayed in Ranchi and drove down to the location travelling four hours every day. That was way too exhausting.Later we shifted to the location and stayed in local people’s homes.
You have worked with female directors before. How different is it from working with male directors?
Yes, I’ve worked with Shonali Bose in Margarita With a Straw and Zoya Akhtar inZindagi Na Milegi Dobaara? Is it any different? Not because of the gender. But yes personality traits are quite pronounced in each of my female directors. Zoya is like one of the boys: boisterous, etc. But Koko(Kokona) is very quiet. But oh my God! She knows exactly what she wants from each actor.
When do we get to A Death In The Gunj?
It will be released soon. They want to create a buzz before release.I haven’t seen the film yet. They completed the film just a few days before it was taken to Toronto. They left in a mad rush.
You recently took an amazing road trip with your Dad Joel Koechlin for travel shot on Fox Life channel?
Yes . It was quite an experience travelling all across the North East. You know,I always felt close to my Dad. But it is a strange relationship that I share with him. Because my Mom and Dad separated when I was a child.So I only met my Dad on weekends and on special occasions. Our meetings were sporadic. But whenever we met we had fun .We shared adventurous trips together. He is a nature photographer. It was thrilling to go trekking and mountaineering with him.
So who came up with the idea of doing a travel show?
Initially my Dad did. He said, ‘Listen, we haven’t travelled for years . The last time we went together was to Gulmarg four years ago.’ He wanted us to travel to the North East because we had never been to that part of the world. I always wanted to go there. I then thought of making our trip into a show.
Oh, so the show was your idea?I should’ve guessed.
(Laughs) Yeah.We looked for a channel that would understand what we were trying to do in that journey.We didn’t want it to be another celebrity show. We wanted the North-East to be the focus.We wanted it to be raw and real. Fox allowed us the freedom to do the show how we liked. So we took off from there.
How long were you and your dad travelling?
We took off for two weeks.And we covered three states Arunachal, Assam andMeghalaya.It was enriching and exhausting. Completely worth it. The people were so wonderful.And the food out there is completely different from what eat. Stunning nature and geographics.
What are you shooting for now?
It’s film called Ribbon.It’s directed by Rakhi Shandilya—another female director . It’s her first feature. It’s about married life in the city and coping with the family. SumeetVyas from the series Permanent Roommates is my co-star.