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Hunger remains for diverse roles: Kalki

Hunger remains for diverse roles: Kalki

Trans World Features | | 27 May 2016, 01:09 am
Kalki Koechlin who bagged a Special Jury award at the 62nd National Film Awards this year for her performance as a patient of cerebral palsy in Margarita with a Straw seems more excited with her latest film Waiting than the much coveted Award. She comes out in a one-to-one on the evening of the release of this film with TWF correspondent Shoma A. Chatterji.

What character do you portray in Waiting?

I play Tara Deshpande, a modern, hep girl in her mid-20s,  recently married to Rajat and working as an advertisement professional whose speech is generously sprinkled with four-letter words that makes my older co-actor, Naseeruddin Shah wince till he unwittingly begins to mouth a couple himself. You will find me wearing kajal and my hair is black. Tara loves to dress up and shop and feels shopping can also work as a coping strategy. Tara, living and working in Mumbai is on top of everything, be it social media or shopping for clothes and shoes or making love. But when she finds herself stuck in a hospital in Cochin, she realises that her hundreds of friends on Facebook and Twitter cannot help her at her time of crisis.

 

What about the director (Anu Menon) who is young and new and someone you have never worked with before?

 

Anu and I hit it off the minute we met and we actually worked on the character together especially on the dialogue because it formed a definitive feature that describes Tara. Anu wanted me to be earthy and desi.. Anu has done a brilliant job. It is a very balanced film and has elements of entertainment in the right spirit in the given context though the subject is dark and might seem depressing. She bagged the Best Director award for the film at the London Asian Film Festival in March this year.

 

What pulled you to this role and the film?

 

First thing I liked is Anu. She knew exactly what she wanted out of her script and from her actors as well. She wrote the script from what seems to be a lived-n experience. Secondly, I have never done a character like this before in my career, a young woman trapped in the critical situation of her husband in coma and she does not know whether he will come out of it at all or, if and when he does, will he be the same fun-loving, health-faddist, ardent lover she married just a few months ago. Last, but never the least was the challenge of working with a legend like Naseeruddin Shah who gave Anu the green signal one year after he had been given the script.

 

Talking of Naseeruddin Shah, how was the experience working with him for almost every frame in the entire film?

 

Working with him was a challenge on the one hand and a learning experience on the other. Besides, the ways the two characters differed from each other helped in fleshing out this new dimension in human relationship where they are bonded by one single tragedy – waiting for their respective spouses to come out of coma.

 

In what way are they different? Please elaborate.

 

Shiv, the character Naseeruddin plays, is 64 and Tara is 26. He is a retired professor married for 40 years. She is 26 and married recently. She cannot utter a single sentence without peppering it with four-letter words while he is as decent as a professor of 64 ought to be. I was prepared to take on the challenge of working with him without bringing the hangover of our theatre experience into play during the shooting. We tried to create this ‘togetherness’ and make it believable by listening to the same music, hanging out, going for a drink and so on. I was amused when he said he does not like networking in the social media because his character does not even know what the word ‘twitter’ means! This brought across the emotional connect on screen and I hope, with conviction.

 

What criteria do you apply while accepting a film project?

 

The first criterion is the script. If I can read it at one go, it means I can go ahead perhaps subject to other considerations. The second criterion is that the script must make me ask myself a lot of questions and also have elements I did not think about before. The final okay for the script is when I decide to google or yahoo to know and learn more about the subject the film deals in and whether it appeals to me significantly or not. The director, the banner, the crew, etc follow naturally.

 

How important is the National Award for you?

 

The news when it arrived, I was in Kolkata and I was so thrilled that I danced about for a while and then went out to celebrate. But looking back, I only want the Award to lead to better roles in better films. Not that I can complain because I have really done extremely diverse roles in very different films. I am keener on better scripts than in bagging awards for their own sake. I played a school-girl-turned prostitute in my first film Dev-D, my first film, a mentally disturbed character in Shaitan, an interior designer in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, a masseuse in The Girl in Yellow Boots. But the greed, or rather, the hunger remains for better and diverse roles in solid scripts.

 

Which is your next film after Waiting?

 

My next film is A Death in the Ganj in which I play a sexy 35-year-old woman living in the 1970s, when I was not even born.

What character do you portray in Waiting?

 

I play Tara Deshpande, a modern, hep girl in her mid-20s,  recently married to Rajat and working as an advertisement professional whose speech is generously sprinkled with four-letter words that makes my older co-actor, Naseeruddin Shah wince till he unwittingly begins to mouth a couple himself. You will find me wearing kajal and my hair is black. Tara loves to dress up and shop and feels shopping can also work as a coping strategy. Tara, living and working in Mumbai is on top of everything, be it social media or shopping for clothes and shoes or making love. But when she finds herself stuck in a hospital in Cochin, she realises that her hundreds of friends on Facebook and Twitter cannot help her at her time of crisis.

 

What about the director (Anu Menon) who is young and new and someone you have never worked with before?

 

Anu and I hit it off the minute we met and we actually worked on the character together especially on the dialogue because it formed a definitive feature that describes Tara. Anu wanted me to be earthy and desi.. Anu has done a brilliant job. It is a very balanced film and has elements of entertainment in the right spirit in the given context though the subject is dark and might seem depressing. She bagged the Best Director award for the film at the London Asian Film Festival in March this year.

 

What pulled you to this role and the film?

 

First thing I liked is Anu. She knew exactly what she wanted out of her script and from her actors as well. She wrote the script from what seems to be a lived-n experience. Secondly, I have never done a character like this before in my career, a young woman trapped in the critical situation of her husband in coma and she does not know whether he will come out of it at all or, if and when he does, will he be the same fun-loving, health-faddist, ardent lover she married just a few months ago. Last, but never the least was the challenge of working with a legend like Naseeruddin Shah who gave Anu the green signal one year after he had been given the script.

 

Talking of Naseeruddin Shah, how was the experience working with him for almost every frame in the entire film?

 

Working with him was a challenge on the one hand and a learning experience on the other. Besides, the ways the two characters differed from each other helped in fleshing out this new dimension in human relationship where they are bonded by one single tragedy – waiting for their respective spouses to come out of coma.

 

In what way are they different? Please elaborate.

 

Shiv, the character Naseeruddin plays, is 64 and Tara is 26. He is a retired professor married for 40 years. She is 26 and married recently. She cannot utter a single sentence without peppering it with four-letter words while he is as decent as a professor of 64 ought to be. I was prepared to take on the challenge of working with him without bringing the hangover of our theatre experience into play during the shooting. We tried to create this ‘togetherness’ and make it believable by listening to the same music, hanging out, going for a drink and so on. I was amused when he said he does not like networking in the social media because his character does not even know what the word ‘twitter’ means! This brought across the emotional connect on screen and I hope, with conviction.

 

What criteria do you apply while accepting a film project?

 

The first criterion is the script. If I can read it at one go, it means I can go ahead perhaps subject to other considerations. The second criterion is that the script must make me ask myself a lot of questions and also have elements I did not think about before. The final okay for the script is when I decide to google or yahoo to know and learn more about the subject the film deals in and whether it appeals to me significantly or not. The director, the banner, the crew, etc follow naturally.

 

How important is the National Award for you?

 

The news when it arrived, I was in Kolkata and I was so thrilled that I danced about for a while and then went out to celebrate. But looking back, I only want the Award to lead to better roles in better films. Not that I can complain because I have really done extremely diverse roles in very different films. I am keener on better scripts than in bagging awards for their own sake. I played a school-girl-turned prostitute in my first film Dev-D, my first film, a mentally disturbed character in Shaitan, an interior designer in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, a masseuse in The Girl in Yellow Boots. But the greed, or rather, the hunger remains for better and diverse roles in solid scripts.

 

Which is your next film after Waiting?

 

My next film is A Death in the Ganj in which I play a sexy 35-year-old woman living in the 1970s, when I was not even born.