Kalki Koechlin discusses 'A Death in the Gunj' in an exclusive interview with A Potpourri of Vestiges

A Potpourri of Vestiges Feature

A Potpourri of Vestiges recently caught up with actress Kalki Koechlin whose latest film A Death in the Gunj, Konkana Sensharma's directorial debut, is set to release on June 2, 2017. Co-starring Ranvir Shorey, Vikrant Massey, Tillotama Shome, Om Puri, and Tanuja, the film is thriller set in the town of McCluskieganj during the winter of 1979 and revolves around a seemingly routine family reunion during the Christmas vacation.


You come across as someone who is really choosy when it comes to doing movies. Tell us how you got associated with Konkana Sensharma's A Death in the Gunj?

I don't know why people say this. I am not choosy. I get films, I do them. I didn't read the script before I said 'yes'. I really wanted to do the film. But, she actually wasn't convinced. She wanted an older actor for the role. She said that I looked too young. So I had to do two auditions to convince her. I am really glad that I did manage to convince her. 

Tell us about your chemistry with Konkana Sensharma as an actor-director duo. How easy or difficult was it to work with Konkana, especially given A Death in the Gunj is her directorial debut?    

We worked together a little briefly on Ek Thi Daayan and so I knew her as an actor. I have seen her on stage many times and I have seen her films so I had a good instinct about her. She has got the best influences in her life from her mother. I didn't really have too many fears or doubts about her capabilities as a director. She had a great team of people and so I was in good hands.

So how important it is in today's age for a film to do well commercially apart from the critical acclaim that a film garners?

Of course, it is very important. It means that those films can be made again. It means you can the finance other similar films. It's difficult to get commercial viability.

You also have a very strong association with theatre. As an actor, how do you see the two mediums i.e. cinema and theatre?

They are very different mediums. Being a good theatre actor doesn't automatically prepare you for cinema and vice versa. They are very different. You have to almost start from scratch. Of course, if you have done a lot of theatre you would have a certain level of confidence while doing cinema and vice versa. But, apart from that, dialogue delivery is totally different. On stage you are trying to reach to that last audience. In film, it is all very internal.

Which of the two do you find more challenging as an actor?

I love them both. I find them both difficult. Film requires a certain amount of internalization. Theatre is all about practice. But I love both. I don't want to choose.

Who do you look up to for inspiration?

Everyone and everything. Everyday you read a book or an article that you are inspired by or moved by or disturbed by. I don't believe there is one iconic thing or person. I have grown up reading Sister Nivedita. She is an inspiration. I know this lawyer Karuna Nundy who works on amazing cases. Lot of the directors I work with are inspirational. Lot of the actors I know; I think Kangana is an amazing actor; Irrfan Khan is an amazing actor. Also, Adeel Hussain, Meryl Streep, Juliette Binoche, and Daniel Day-Lewis. There's just so many inspirations all around.        

Do you have any method to acting?

I hope so. I don't believe in one particular method. Depending on the role I choose different ways of working. So, if I am doing a Margarita with a Straw I needed to live that character day in and day out, 24/7 in the wheelchair and be that person. But then with Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani it was much more spontaneous. So my way of being in character for Yeh Jawani was like playing tricks on set, constantly doing some 'masti' and staying playful. It's a very different way but it works for me.

Tell us about your upcoming projects.

I am doing a web series which I just finished called 'Smoke' for Eros Where I play a Portugese-Goan DJ. It's on the Goan mafia. 

Could you give us more details about 'Smoke' such as its theme/setting, etc.?

It's set in the present-day Goa with the Russian mafia, the Israelis, the Indian mafia revolving around the theme of corruption of Goa.

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