One Dexterous Woman: Kalki

She’s a feisty lady who loves essaying a gamut of interesting roles. Be it in Bollywood, theatre or in her life. During a recent visit to Bengaluru to draw the lots to determine the position of horses at the Kingfisher Ultra Derby 2016, the tall and lovely Kalki Koechlin interacted with RITZ about her love for horses, her style quotient and upcoming projects

“I love horses and I used to ride often as a kid. Horse racing has that old-world charm and it’s a great event to watch,” says Kalki as she readies herself to pick chits of paper printed with names of colts that are to run at Bengaluru’s most glamorous and happening race. She appears quite amused by the name Aika Aika Aika, belonging to a horse who seemed a hot contender to win at the Kingfisher Ultra Derby.

“I like the name Aika Aika Aika. Horses have unusual names. I miss horse racing as I don’t get enough time to indulge in the sport now.” So what’s the word that flashes across her mind when horse racing is mentioned? “Hats. Yeah… hats, pretty women and lots of glamour,” says the svelte actress who would don a hat, a bright summer dress and carry a matching handbag if she were to attend a racing event.


Kalki is stylish, loves experimenting with outfits and likes to challenge herself when it comes to dressing, just like she would when it concerns acting. Her style sense is “very mercurial. It changes from day to day and from mood to mood. I like trying out new outfits as I’m somebody who could get bored easily,” she tells us. Be it palazzos, gowns, pant suits, trenches, dresses, shorts, separates or sarees, she carries them all off with equal élan.

But for big-ticket events, it’s mostly been the darker tones that Kalki has been spotted in. Be it a black baroque gown, or a black and gold Anarkali, an embellished half saree, an olive green maxi dress or a cerulean contemporary outfit. “Is that so? I didn’t realise,” she says looking a bit perplexed. “Well, I do love dark tones. If there was a colour darker than black, I would wear something in that as well! But yes, I love white. I feel white is very elegant and now I’m going to go out and experiment with light tones,” she smiles.

Kalki is extremely appreciative of hand-woven Indian textiles and organic cotton. “I believe in the sustainable kind of weaving. I think Nimish (Shah) from Shift and Payal Khandwala are conscientious about their fabrics and I find that interesting,” says the actress who recently won a National Award for her portrayal of a girl with cerebral palsy in Margarita with a Straw. “That was probably one of the most challenging roles I’ve played so far. There were many challenges in playing that character. I had to prepare a whole lot and understand the mind-set of the individual and I was still apprehensive about whether I’d be able to pull it off. But in the end I did learn a lot from that experience.” Her recent release Waiting with Naseeruddin Shah has also garnered a lot of praise for enacting the role of a young woman who forms a bond with an elderly man.


Known for playing a diverse range of roles on the silver screen such as a prostitute, a political activist, a tomboy and for essaying equally meaty characters on stage like Lady Macbeth, Rapunzel and Argentine writer Victoria Ocampo, Kalki is game for newer acting challenges. She is currently working on Konkana Sen Sharma’s feature film, A Death in the Gunj, which is inspired by a story set in the 1970s, and another film by Nicholas Kharkongor titled Mantra, which draws inspiration from the buyout of an Indian brand by a MNC, as perceived through the eyes of a family. Mantra is a film which is being crowdfunded. “I read the script in one go and I loved it. It’s rare that you a get a script that gives you the gut feeling of wanting to do it. I’ve also just started working on Smoke,” she says, referring to the 12-part web series based on drug mafia and set in Goa, that has her playing a club DJ.

So what does she prefer more, films or theatre? “I like both. But the pay cheques are certainly better in films. But yeah theatre is fabulous,” says Kalki, who studied drama and theatre at the University of London.

Any insights into what her dream role could be like? “A nice rom-com. A straight-forward love story without any killing and where I get the guy in the end,” she tells us signing off with a smile.