Kalki Koechlin is one of the few Bollywood actors in recent years to build her star power while proving her mettle as an actor in both independent and mainstream Indian cinema. Kalki’s latest film Margarita, With a Straw is very different from the role she essayed in one of Bollywood’s biggest blockbuster movies of 2013, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, where she was decked in slinky designer outfits and danced to peppy numbers.
The actor, who shot to fame with performances in films, such as Dev D, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and That Girl in Yellow Boots, recently played the role of Laila in Shonali Bose’s Margarita, With a Straw. She plays the character of a teenager afflicted with cerebral palsy, but is also discovering her own self, much to her conservative mother’s horror. “The film has been done in a very beautiful manner. It looks at all the aspects, including the way my mother in the film reacts to me exploring myself,” said Kalki.
The film, which is scheduled to be released in India in 2015, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and London Film Festival earlier this year. Koechlin, 30, who was born in India to French parents, commented on her role in the film and spending two months in a wheelchair for the part.
She spoke about her preparation for the role, remarking that it was mentally challenging. She said that the film was in good hands with Bose as the director and commended her for doing a remarkable job. There was tremendous pressure on her shoulders to get the role right and she had to put six months of training into the film to make her character seem believable.
Kalki stayed in character throughout the film, so that she could understand the frustration and pain of the character she was portraying. “I stayed in character throughout for this film. From the minute I woke up, I would be in my wheelchair, except when there were practical problems, such as when we had to get quickly from one place to another and there was no ramp.”
On whether the traditional Indian audiences have warmed up to such a radical subject, Kalki said that the film will help them embrace such concepts. “The film does that. Her mother represents a very conservative family and her reaction is one many people will relate to. When you write a good script, when you look at it in a holistic manner, it makes sense,” exclaimed Kalki, who will soon be seen in the Saif Ali Khan-starrer Happy Ending.
Kalki is hopeful that the film would be cleared by the Indian censor board, arguing, “The audience is now demanding and hungry for intelligent and thought-provoking cinema. The trailer itself has gone viral. It’s for a niche audience.” She further added, “It’s a film that can really touch hearts. It’s not a dark film at all. Laila’s character is always joking around. She has a lot of love for life.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 4th, 2014.
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