I try to fall in love with the character I play
She an actress who has made her presence felt in and how in the Indie-space as well as commercial cinema. She’s bold, she’s beautifully fearless and talented to say the least. She’s Kalki Koechlin and this time she talks about her upcoming film Mantra.
Apparently you signed Mantra as soon as you heard the script. What was that one thing that made you feel, ‘I have to do this film’?
It just made sense. I just kept nodding and agreeing with things in the script. Like there’s a scene where a minister puts on a wig as a disguise to go eat in a street stall. The nuances and subtleties and layering of each character says so much in so little.
A lot of scripts read well but do you think the film has turned out the way you imagined it to?
I think it’s turned out better because when I read the script I loved it but we were shooting in such dire low budget situations and I thought how is Nicholas going to pull this off? Now when I watch the film I realise he was constantly finding little ways to enhance the scene visually, like there’s a scene which takes place on the grass in a plush resort but the swimming pool is empty and that is so symbolic to the overall story of big money coming in and small things being overlooked.
Like a large chunk of our audience, you grew up in the 90’s too. Did you identify with the character you play? In what ways?
Yes. I remember growing up with Uncle Chips and Gold Spot and now the brands have almost completely disappeared or have been taken over by the big multinationals. I remember when KFC opened and there where long cues on the road, and when on Valentine’s Day, right wing groups would vandalize restaurants. I also identified with the family not being honest with each other, brushing things under the carpet and how those things brim up eventually anyway.
How do you normally approach a character?
I think about it, question it, doubt it, wrestle with it and try to fall in love with it.
What kind of preparation did you need for Mantra?
Understanding the upper class of Delhi, observing families like that and, in one scene, how to create a flame in a saucepan.
You have been an important part of the independent cinema of today. For films like Mantra, making the film is not the challenge, completing and selling it is. What pushes you to do more of these despite the delayed gratification and inevitable struggle?
Love of cinema and my craft.
How can a reader contribute to the film if he/she wishes to?
Go on Wishberry and donate to the crowdfunding, or even share the trailer on their social media.
Tell us about working with Director Nicholas Khargonkor.
I have a soft spot for Nicholas, he’s one of the sweetest, most sincere people I know, he stands up for people, takes on a lot of responsibility and he stresses too much about everything and everyone.
What are the projects in the pipeline? Any more Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani / Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara kind of films?
Sadly not shooting anything right now. But we finally finished Jia Aur Jia, which is on the edit now and is a commercial story. And I finished an indie film called Waiting by Anu Menon.
You have a strong presence on social media and an even stronger take on women and other issues. What makes you so fearless?
I guess I don’t see the dangers of voicing an opinion, I believe everyone has a right to it and as artists, an opinion and point of view is what drives us.
Mantra is currently crowdfunding. To contribute and for other details visit: https://www.