‘I would love to do more comedies’: Kalki Koechlin – Kalki Koechlin is synonymous with unconventional roles and content-driven films, be it Margarita with a Straw, Death In A Gunj, Waiting or That Girl In Yellow Boots. Not just films, even when it comes to theatre, the actress has done intense plays like Colour Blind, One Flea Spare and Far Away. After appearing in a couple of videos like The Printing Machine and it’s Your Fault, in which she addressed women’s issues, the Dev D actress will be seen in the web series Smoke, which deals with the dark underbelly of Goa. Here, Kalki talks about her series, upcoming film Gully Boy and the #MeToo Movement that has taken the country by storm.
Is Smoke your first web series?
I had done a small guest appearance in Man’s World, but this is my first chunky role in a web series. I want to be a part of the digital world because it is growing at an immense rate, especially, in India where it was pretty untapped. At the same time, you have to choose carefully because once you are in a web series, you could be committed for a long time. It might have a second or third season, so you have to think of it as a long-term project.
What are the challenges when it comes to shooting for a web series?
You shoot over a longer period of time like 10-11 hours in a day. So, the character graph is larger and you need to know it very well. In a web series, you shoot the climax first and then the beginning… it’s all over the place. Everything depends on the availability of the actors. So, you have to know how you are going to play the character before you start shooting. In movies, especially the independent smaller ones, we film at one go from start to end. Sometimes we do shoot non-chronologically, but we are in that world for one month. Whereas, while shooting for a web series, you are in between different things.
What prompted you to take up Smoke?
The fact that it shows different aspects of Goa. Usually, it is shown as a holiday destination, but Smoke presents not just its holidaying and clubbing vibe, it also shows the dark side — like the mafia that runs the system, circulates the drugs, the narcotics who are fighting it and the politicians who are trying to take advantage of the situation. These elements coming together in one show appealed to me.
You play a DJ in it?
Yes, a Portuguese DJ. I had a teacher who helped me perfect the accent and learn a bit of the language. I had to research on DJs and I based my character on DJ Alison Wonderland (also an Australian singer). As for my character, she is a passionate girl, who loves her music. But she is caught up in the mafia world and she struggles for her freedom.
In most of your films, you play such complex characters. Is that deliberate?
I think any character that’s humane has complexities. You can even play a light-hearted character with complexities, not just dark characters. I get offered more dark characters than comic ones. I would love to do more comic roles, but complexity is a human trait. Somebody who is just good or just bad is unrealistic. They are a product of their situations, surroundings and daily struggles. That’s what makes the character humane and when you do that, you are a good actor. I try to do that to my best.
Any films in the pipeline?
I finished shooting Gully Boy with Zoya Akhtar. I play a music producer in it. She is the one who produces a song with the rappers from Dharavi and one of them happens to be Ranveer Singh’s character.
You will be seen in the commercial space after a long time since Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara…
Yes, it’s about what comes your way. I have been busy working, but sometimes you get more films in the indie scene and less of commercial movies. There have been times I have been doing only theatre. As an actor, I feel I have been blessed to be flexible between different genres. All I want is to do diverse roles, but yes, I would love to do more comedies and romcoms, but as long as I am not repeating myself every time, and doing stuff where I am pushing my barriers, it’s good.
You have always been vocal about issues that concern women. What is your take on the #MeToo Movement?
#MeToo is helping us become much more aware of sexual harassment. I am hoping it will result in a cleaner and equal work environment. It’s also important that we see each and each every case go through its due process in terms of the investigative agencies, the lawyers, the ICC (Internal Complaints Committee), etc. looking into it. It’s important to let them do their work before making a blanket judgement on everyone because each one has committed a crime of different degree and deserves a different punishment. #MeToo is a brilliant thing that has happened in terms of the social media movement, in terms of reaching most workplaces far beyond our industry and that is really heartening. It shows the lasting impact that this will have. At the same time, a long-term effect will take time to establish. We need sensitising workshops in our places of work. We need an outside body to be there for such complaints.