Kalki Koechlin

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Kalki Koechlin
Koechlin smiling at the camera
Koechlin at a promotional event in 2016
Born (1984-01-10) 10 January 1984 (age 33)
Pondicherry, India
Nationality Indian
Alma mater University of London
Occupation Actress, writer
Years active 2008–present
Spouse(s) Anurag Kashyap (m. 2011; d. 2015)
Relatives See Koechlin family

Kalki Koechlin (Listeni/ˌkʌlkiˈkklɒ̃/; born 10 January 1984) is an Indian actress and writer of French descent. One of the most acclaimed actresses in India, she is the recipient of a National Film Award, a Filmfare Award and two Screen Awards. Apart from acting in films, Koechlin is also a regular presence in theatre productions in India.

Drawn to theatre at a young age, Koechlin studied drama at Goldsmiths, University of London, and worked simultaneously with a local theatre company. After returning to India, she made her screen debut with a supporting role in the drama Dev.D in 2009–and won a Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress. Subsequently, she starred in two of the highest-grossing Indian productions–the comedy-dramas Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013), both of which garnered her Best Supporting Actress nominations at Filmfare. Koechlin then co-wrote the screenplay for the crime thriller That Girl in Yellow Boots (2011), in which she also played the lead role.

While she has worked mainly in independent films, including the drama Margarita with a Straw (2014), which won her the National Film Award – Special Jury Award, and the comedy drama Waiting (2015), Koechlin also appeared in commercially successful films, including the political drama Shanghai (2012) and the supernatural thriller Ek Thi Daayan (2013). She also uses YouTube as a platform or forum for issues for which she advocates, appearing in videos including AIB's It's Your Fault, Culture Machine's Printing Machine and Y-Films's web-series entitled Man's World.

In addition to her film career, Koechlin has written, produced, and acted in several stage plays in India. She co-wrote the dramas Skeleton Woman (2009), which won her The MetroPlus Playwright Award, and Colour Blind (2014), and made her directorial debut on stage with the tragicomedy Living Room (2015). Koechlin hosted a travel show entitled Kalki's Great Escape, which premiered on Fox Life in September 2016. She is also an activist and promotes various causes ranging from health and education to women's empowerment and gender equality. Koechlin was married to filmmaker Anurag Kashyap from 2011 to 2015.

Early life and background

Kalki Koechlin was born in Pondicherry, India, on 10 January 1984 to French parents, Joel Koechlin and Françoise Armandie, who came to India from Angers, France.[1][2] She is a descendant of Maurice Koechlin, a French structural engineer, who played an important role in the design and construction of the Eiffel Tower.[3] Koechlin's parents are devotees of Sri Aurobindo.[2] The family later settled in Kallatty, a village near Ooty in Tamil Nadu, where Koechlin's father established a business designing hang-gliders and ultralight aircraft.[3][4]

Koechlin with her mother Françoise Armandie in 2016

Koechlin was brought up in a strict environment in Ooty where she spoke English, Tamil, and French.[5][6] Her parents divorced when she was fifteen; her father moved to Bangalore and remarried, while Koechlin continued living with her mother.[5] She has described the time that she spent at Kalatty between the ages of 5 and 8, before her parents' divorce, as her "happiest".[7] Koechlin has a half-brother from her mother's previous marriage, and a half-brother from her father's subsequent marriage.[5]

Koechlin studied at Hebron School, a boarding school in Ooty, where she was involved in acting and writing. She has admitted to being shy and quiet as a child.[8] Koechlin aspired to study psychiatry and become a criminal psychologist.[9] After completing her schooling at the age of 18, she moved to London and studied drama and theatre at Goldsmiths, University of London. There, she worked for two years with the theatre company Theatre of Relativity, writing The Rise of the Wild Hunt and performing in plays such as David Hare's The Blue Room and Marivaux's The Dispute.[5][10] She worked as a waitress on weekends.[4]

After completing her studies, Koechlin moved back to India and lived with her maternal half-brother in Bangalore. Unable to find work there, she moved to Mumbai, where she worked with theatre directors and with Atul Kumar and Ajay Krishnan, the founders of a Mumbai-based theatre company called "The Company Theatre". They were looking for actors for a theatrical festival, Contacting the World, to be held in Liverpool.[2][11]

Film career

Debut and early roles (2009–10)

After moving to Mumbai, Koechlin auditioned for Anurag Kashyap's Dev.D (2009), a modern take on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's 1917 Bengali novel Devdas.[12] In the film, Koechlin plays the role of Leni, a young girl who turns to prostitution after a leaked sex tape scandal. Her character was based on Chandramukhi, a pivotal character in the novel, a prostitute who fell in love with the titular character.[13] Kashyap initially rejected Koechlin as she was not Indian, and did not match his visualisation of the character. But he changed his mind, and offered her the role after seeing her audition tape.[14] The film met with generally positive reviews and was a box office success.[15][16] Raja Sen of Rediff.com called it a "fantastic visual ride", placing it second on his list of the best movies of 2009.[17] Koechlin garnered praise for her performance.[18] Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express described her as "astonishingly apt" and called her journey in the film "riveting".[19] Koechlin went on to win the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress.[20]

Koechlin played a supporting role in the black comedy The Film Emotional Atyachar, her only film appearance of 2010. Co-starred Ranvir Shorey, Mohit Ahlawat, Abhimanyu Singh, Vinay Pathak, and Ravi Kishan, the film opened to mixed reviews.[21] Her performance in the film as Sophie, a manipulative woman who is abducted by two corrupt policemen, garnered mixed reviews from critics.[22] Komal Nahta of Koimoi labeled her performance as "average", while Blessyy Chettiar of Daily News and Analysis felt that she was "underused".[22][23] Koechlin had committed to star in I am Afia, one of the four short films of Onir's anthology I Am, but the film went into production with a modified plot for the segment.[24] In an interview with The Telegraph Onir said, "as we discussed the subject more and more, both Kalki and me felt that the narrative was becoming too hurried in the 25-minute limit".[24] Koechlin, who was to play the role of an NGO worker in the film was ultimately replaced by Nandita Das, after the change of plot.[24][25]

Rise to prominence (2011–2014)

Koechlin posing for the camera with Zindagi Na Milegi Dibara co-stars Abhay Deol, Farhan Akhtar, Katrina Kaif
Ritesh Sidhwani, Katrina Kaif, Abhay Deol, Koechlin and Farhan Akhtar, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara press conference at Chandigarh in 2011

After facing some early struggle for film roles, Koechlin had four releases in 2011, garnering widespread recognition for her performances in them.[4] The first was Bejoy Nambiar's Shaitan, a crime-thriller with an ensemble cast that included Koechlin, Rajeev Khandelwal, Gulshan Devaiya, Shiv Pandit, Neil Bhoopalam, and Kirti Kulhari.[26] She played the role of a disturbed teenager and called it an "exhausting" experience, saying that she felt drained while trying to, "get into a psyche of someone who does a lot of drugs and booze, has lost her mind a little bit and is very vulnerable".[27] Upon release the film received positive reviews from critics, and Koechlin was nominated for the Best Actress Award at the Star Screen Awards.[28]

Koechlin then starred in Zoya Akhtar's coming-of-age comedy Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. In an interview with NDTV, Akhtar expressed her wish to work with Koechlin after seeing her in Dev.D and the then-unreleased That Girl in Yellow Boots.[29][30] She played the supporting role of Natasha, a South Bombay girl who works as an interior designer. In an interview with Hindustan Times Koechlin revealed that she was keen to do the film, because after working in films like Dev.D and Shaitan, she feared being typecast in dark roles such as prostitutes, troubled teenagers, and misfits.[2] Koechlin took diction classes to improve her Hindi for the film.[31] The film was a box-office success and grossed 1.53 billion (US$24 million) worldwide, becoming, at the time, the ninth highest-grossing Bollywood film in history.[32] Koechlin's performance was well received by critics. Gaurav Malani of The Times of India deemed her "excellent", and Raja Sen in his review for Rediff.com highlighted her and Roshan and called them "histrionically strong enough to manage varied roles".[33][34] She received her second Filmfare Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role.[35]

Koechlin made her debut as a screenwriter with Anurag Kashyap's 2011 thriller That Girl in Yellow Boots. She said that Kashyap asked her to write the script for the film as he was looking for a woman's perspective for the story.[2] Co-starring with Naseeruddin Shah, Koechlin played a British woman name Ruth, who travels to Mumbai in search of her biological father. The role was partially based on her own experience as a 'white-girl' in India.[36] Shot in a short duration of thirteen days, the film was screened at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival and the 67th Venice International Film Festival, among other venues.[37][38] It opened to critical acclaim, with Koechlin beign widely praised for her performance. Giving the film three-and-a-half stars out of four, Roger Ebert wrote that Koechlin "creates a memorable woman who is sad and old beyond her years".[39] Sukanya Verma of Rediff.com described Koechlin as "unrestrained and uncorrupted".[40] Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV also lauded the film and deemed her performance as "absolute perfection".[41] Koechlin's final release of the year was the Sanjay Leela Bhansali-produced comedy My Friend Pinto.[42] She played the role of an aspiring dancer in the film.[43][44] Mrigank Dhaniwala of Koimoi criticised the film's "scattered screenplay", but praised Koechlin for her performance.[43]

Koechlin sitting beside Emran Hashmi looking away from the camera
Koechlin with Emran Hashmi at a promotional event for Shanghai in 2012

Koechlin was cast opposite Emraan Hashmi and Abhay Deol (her third collaboration with Deol) for Dibakar Banerjee's political-thriller Shanghai. The film, which was based on the Greek writer Vassilis Vassilikos's 1967 novel Z (made into a movie of the same name), had its premiered at the 2012 Toronto Film Festival.[45] The film had Koechlin play the role of a political activist.[46] Shanghai received positive reviews from critics,[4] and was a surprise hit at the box office grossing over 200 million (US$3.1 million) in India.[47][48] Koechlin garnered a mixed response for her performance in the film. While Russell Edwards noted the "biting edge" she brought to the role, Aniruddha Guha thought of her as the "weakest link" in the film.[49][50]

Koechlin's continued association with commercial films sustained her success as seen, in varying degrees, with both of her 2013 releases, the supernatural thriller Ek Thi Daayan and the comedy drama Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. The former was based on Mobius Trips, a short story written by Mukul Sharma, the father of Konkona Sen Sharma, who also starred in the film.[51] Koechlin's role was that of Lisa Dutt, a Canada-based music teacher who is suspected of practising witchcraft. For her role in the film, Koechlin learned to play the guitar, and lip synced "Yaaram", one of the film's track.[52] On its release, the film received mixed to positive reviews from critics and had average box-office earnings.[53][54] Praising Koechlin in her review for the film, critic Anupama Chopra remarked that she was, "an interesting actor but the film doesn't know what to do with her".[55]

Koechlin then went on to star in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, co-starring Deepika Padukone, Ranbir Kapoor and Aditya Roy Kapur. She played the role of tomboy, Aditi Mehra. Koechlin, who was nursing her hospitalised mother and simultaneously filming for the project called it a "really tough time".[5] Nonetheless, she described her time on the film sets as "fun", and developed a close friendship with Padukone.[56][57][58] The film emerged as one of the highest-grossing Bollywood films with earnings of 3.02 billion (US$47 million).[59] Koechlin was lauded for her performance and comic timing.[60] Rajeev Masand, writing for CNN-News18, deemed the cast terrific, saying: "Koechlin invests heart and spunkiness to the part".[61] She earned her third Filmfare Best Supporting Actress nomination.[62][63][64]

Later in 2013, Koechlin appeared in a video entitled It's Your Fault, along with VJ Juhi Pandey. Dealing with the issue of sexual assaults on women, the video mocks the mindset that blames women for provoking rapes.[65] It was created by All India Bakchod, and was released on their YouTube channel. It's Your Fault went viral, with over 150,000 views in two days.[66] Koechlin's sole release in 2014 was Saif Ali Khan's Happy Ending, where she plays a comic role of a girl obsessed with Khan's character. She credited her performance in Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani for landing her the role. She said that people noticed her comic timing in the film, and that worked in her favour.[67] The film, which Koechlin descried as "spoof on our film industry and on all the romantic comedies", opened to mixed reviews and was a box-office failure.[68][69] Despite the film's mixed reception she garnered praise for her performance. Saurabh Dwivedi of India Today wrote that "Koechlin steals the show with her perfect portrayal of a nagging girlfriend", and Rohit Vats of Hindustan Times noted that, although her character in the film felt a bit forced, she delivered a "charming" performance.[70][71]

Critical acclaim (2015–present)

Koechlin smiling at the camera in blue dress
Koechlin at the screening of Margarita With A Straw in 2015

Koechlin starred in Shonali Bose's drama Margarita with a Straw, playing Laila, a young woman with cerebral palsy who leaves her home in India to study in New York City, unexpectedly falls in love, and embarks on a journey of self-discovery. Her character was inspired by Malini Chib, Bose's cousin.[72] Bose first approached Koechlin, who she said was her "first and only choice", for the role when the latter was shooting for Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewaani.[73] Due to the clashing schedule Bose went on to audition other actresses to substitute Koechlin, but felt that "something was missing" in each one, and she eventually decided to push the filming for three months to accommodate her.[74] In an interview with the Times of India, Koechlin acknowledged that the role was the most challenging of her film career, and she took six months off her filming schedule to prepare for it.[75][76] She underwent a six-week training workshop with actor Adil Hussain. The workshop aimed at making her "body language seem natural", while also focusing on the speech pattern of patients with cerebral palsy.[77] Koechlin spent considerable time with Chib and her physiotherapist and speech therapist. She also attended a month-long workshop in Delhi, where she worked on the movement of each body part separately.[78] Although the film covers aspects of physical disability, Koechlin dubbed it "a romcom with some hurdles".[78]

Margarita with a Straw premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, and was also screened at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, BFI London Film Festival, 19th Busan International Film Festival, and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.[72] The film garnered positive reviews,[79] and Koechlin widespread attention and universal acclaim for her portrayal of a disabled person.[80] While Leslie Felperin of The Hollywood Reporter made a detailed note of her "bravura performance in both physical and emotional terms", NDTV film critic Saibal Chatterjee straightforwardly deemed her "absolutely brilliant".[81][82] Firstpost's Deepanjana Pal ascribed her screen appeal to her lack of acting pretense, and wrote "[Koechlin] has done a good job of miming the physicality [...] but what is truly remarkable is the lack of artifice in her expressions".[83] John Beifuss compared her performance to Eddie Redmayne's act as Stephen Hawking in the biographical drama, The Theory of Everything, in his review for The Commercial Appeal. He gave Koechlin the highest praise writing that her performance would have attracted Academy Award notice in a major film studio production.[84] The view was echoed by Variety critic Guy Lodge, who was particularly impressed by her range.[85] Koechlin won several accolades for the film, including the Best Actress Award at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, the Screen Award for Best Actress, and the Jury Award at the 63rd National Film Awards.[86][87][88] Additionally, she had garnered nominations for Best Actress at the Seattle International Film Festival and the Asian Film Awards.[89][90]

Koechlin appeared alongside Parineeti Chopra, Richa Chadda, and Bhumi Pednekar in Y-Films's mini web-series Man's World, a satire on gender roles.[91] The series was released on YouTube in April 2015.[92][93] She then starred in Anu Menon's Waiting, an independent film about the relationship between two people who befriend each other in a hospital, while nursing their respective comatose spouses.[94] Koechlin played the role of Tara Deshpande, a young and brash social media-savvy.[95] She dyed her hair black for the role, as Menon wanted her to look more "earthy".[96] The film had its world premiere at the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) in December 2015, and had its theatrical release in India on 27 May 2016.[97][98][99] The film and her performance received positive critical reviews.[100] Sukanya Verma of Rediff.com called the film "absolutely riveting", and also lauded the "stunningly unhindered" Koechlin writing that she used her aura, "in the most mesmeric fashion to create a woman we sympathise with and wish well for".[101] Film critic Kunal Guha thought that film belonged to Koechlin who, "impresses by managing to wordlessly convey her character's state of mind in every scene".[102]

Koechlin posing for the camera.
Koechlin at a special screening of Loev

In January 2016, Koechlin appeared in a video called Printing Machine that talked about the approach of media and society towards crimes against women.[103] The five-minute video was released on YouTube and features a poem penned and recited by Koechlin.[104][105] The video was well received by critics and viewers.[106][107][108][109] She also received a letter of appreciation from Melinda Gates, co-founder of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, for her contribution to bringing the attention to women issues.[110] In the same year, Koechlin appeared in two documentary films Freedom Matters (2016), a project aimed at spreading awareness on human trafficking, and Living Shakespeare (2016), a BBC production where she drew parallels between Ophelia and Indian women.[111][112] She attended the 2016 Marrakech International Film Festival, as a member of the jury presided by Hungarian director Béla Tarr.[113][114]

The 18th Mumbai Film Festival saw the release of two of Koechlin's films—the dramas A Death in the Gunj and Mantra. In the former, she played a Kolkata-based Anglo-Indian woman.[115] To prepare for the role, she attended an acting workshop conducted by the film's casting director, Atul Mongia, and also learnt an Anglo-Indian accent.[115][116][117] A Death in the Gunj, after having been delayed on multiple occasions, is slated for its theatrical release in May 2017.[118]

Upcoming projects

As of March 2016, Koechlin has several upcoming projects.[119] She will feature, alongside Ali Fazal and Gulshan Devaiah, in Soni Razdan's Love Affair, a fictionalised version of the 1959 Nanavati murder case.[120] She has also completed filming for Howard Rosemeyer's Jia aur Jia, alongside Richa Chadda. Koechlin and Chadda play strangers of the same name who embark on a road trip together[119] Koechlin is also filming for Pakistani director Sabiha Sumar on a documentary entitled Azmaish – Trials of Life, for which she visited Karachi, Lahore and Skardu to observe the Pakistani culture of the provinces Sindh, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.[121] She has also committed to star in Shahnawaz NK's bilingual film CandyFlip opposite Prakash Raj and Gulshan Devaiah,[122] and Tanuja Chandra's untitled road trip film alongside Irrfan Khan.[123]

Stage career

Koechlin in a white dress smiling at the camera
Koechlin at the premiere of the play Ishqiya Dharavi Style in 2016

Koechlin has been associated with theatre from a young age. As a child, she attended theatre workshops in Pondicherry.[11] Her mother was adamant that she complete her studies before venturing into an acting career, sending her to London to study drama and theatre.[11] During her years in the film industry, Koechlin has continued to participate in theatrical productions. She has written, produced, and acted in several stage plays in India.[124] In her interview she said, "Theater is really an actor's playground", and continued: "There's nothing like performing for a live audience".[125] Koechlin opened her own theater company, Little Productions in June 2015.[126]

Koechlin won The Hindu's 2009 The MetroPlus Playwright Award along with Prashant Prakash for the play Skeleton Woman which they co-wrote,[127] directed by Nayantara Kotian. The play is a modern adaptation of an Inuit folk tale about a writer; Koechlin played the protagonist's wife. It premiered at the Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai.[128] Asmit Pathare of Mumbai Theatre Guide in his review wrote: "The actors being the playwrights themselves, seemed to know what they were doing".[129] She also co-wrote Colour Blind, a play that attempts to rediscover different aspects of the personality of Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore through his life and writings. In dual roles, Koechlin plays the Argentine writer and intellectual Victoria Ocampo (a close associate of Tagore), and a young woman who is writing a research paper on him.[130] Aditi Sharma of Mumbai Theatre Guide calling Koechlin the "star or the play" noted that she "really put in an effort to build her character and it shows".[131]

Koechlin also worked in Rajat Kapoor's What's Done, Is Done, an adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth.[132] She played Lady Macbeth and doubled up as one of the witches for the play.[133] The first show of the play was staged on 5 June 2016 in Mumbai.[134] Koechlin's other stage appearances include Atul Kumar's Trivial Disasters, The Real Inspector Hound, Ajay Krishnan's Hair, where she plays Rapunzel, and Kapoor's Hamlet, The Clown Prince.[124] In 2015, she made her directorial debut on stage with a play entitled Living Room.[135] Development of the play began in 2014, when Koechlin wrote a four-page conversation between Death and an old woman who is in a strange surreal space, about to die but unwilling to exit the world. She further worked on the script of the play in 2015. In a 2016 interview with Mumbai Mirror she said, "Last year, when I was unemployed for six months, I started fleshing out the story. It turned into a comedy on life and death".[136] The play was staged at the Ranga Shankara Hall, Bangalore, on 24 July 2015.[137][138]

Personal life and off-screen work

Koechlin with her husband Anurag Kashyap
Koechlin with Anurag Kashyap in 2010

Koechlin married film-maker Anurag Kashyap in April 2011, at her maternal home in Ooty.[139][140] The two met while filming her debut film Dev.D.[141] On 13 November 2013, both Koechlin and Kashyap issued a joint statement addressing their separation.[142] On 19 May 2015, Kashyap and Koechlin filed for divorce at a Mumbai family court.[143][144] During the period between their separation and eventual divorce, the couple went through marriage counseling as well.[145]

Amidst all the news and speculation surrounding the separation, Koechlin revealed that she regretted being so transparent about her personal life, stating in 2012, "It just takes centre stage instead of your work".[2] Since her divorce, Koechlin has rarely mentioned her personal life in public.[146] Tabloids have often linked her romantically with other Bollywood stars, but she has strongly denied any such rumours.[147] Koechlin adopted a rescue cat named Dosa.[148][149]

After the separation Koechlin discussed her struggles in an interview with Daily News and Analysis, "Even as an actor, you have days when you haven't slept enough, you don't feel like you're good enough or pretty enough ... But ultimately, it's all about attitude. You must live with a little abandon and not be self-conscious. You ought to stop staring at yourself in the mirror, and just smile a little!"[150] Having suffered through racial prejudice in her teenage years and early film career, when she was stereotyped as a 'white-girl' in India, Koechlin advocates for an anti-racist ideology.[150] She acknowledged her share of confusion, regarding her identity as a "white-skinned woman growing up in Tamil Nadu", who had to defend her "Indian-ness" at numerous occasions.[2] Later in 2012, she said of herself, “My skin is white, but my heart is brown.”[151]

Koechlin identifies herself as a feminist and is also involved with several humanitarian causes.[152][153] She wrote an article on gender pay-gap for the 22 August 2014 issue of Forbes India,[154] and is vocal in her support for the issue: "Equal pay won't happen because there is a hero-based industry. So we need to strive for scripts that empower women, make women our heroes, too."[155] Koechlin has presented several monologues aimed at spreading public awareness, and used YouTube as a platform or forum for issues that she advocates for, like gender equality.[65][103] She recited a soliloquy entitled An Intense Piece about the Truths of Womanhood on International Women's Day at the India Today Conclave in March 2014,[152] and performed a solo theatrical monologue titled, Wo-Manologue at an event for the FICCI Ladies Organisation in September 2016.[156] Koechlin was appointed by Vogue India as the ambassador for their Vogue Empower initiative to spread awareness of women's safety and empowerment.[157] She is also a supporter of animal rights, and appeared in a 2012 PETA advertisement campaign encouraging the adoption of stray cats and dogs.[158]

Koechlin is also vociferous on a variety of issues, including health promotion, education for children in rural areas, and child sexual abuse among others.[159][155] Koechlin actively participates in the P & G Shiksha campaign for educating children living in rural parts of India.[160] She participated in the 2015 Mumbai Marathon, a charitable event that aimed to spread awareness about issues such as: education, health issues like cancer and AIDS, and senior citizen welfare,[161] accompanied by Shonali Bose's cousin Malini Chib.[162][163] Having gone through sexual abuse at the age of nine, Koechlin aims to spread awareness around the issue, saying that it was, "important that parents remove the taboo around the word sex or private parts so kids can speak openly and be saved from potential abuse".[164] She also spoke at the All Indian Conference for Child Sexual Abuse organised by actor Rahul Bose's non-governmental organisation HEAL.[165]

Media image

It's not my job to keep myself in the news. My job is to keep performing. If I spend time promoting myself or being concerned about my image, I wouldn't have the energy to do the work that I'm doing.

—Kalki Koechlin, in June 2013[166]

Koechlin has been acknowledged in the media for her unconventional roles in films and her straightforward personality.[167][168][169] Reviewing her work in Printing Machine, film critic and journalist Subhash K. Jha deemed her the "free-thinking actress this industry [Bollywood] needs".[170] Megha Shah of the GQ called her "someone who can speak her mind, sound intelligent and also look stunning in a bikini".[171] Members of the media have subsequently labelled her as a role model for women across the country.[172] Bhavya Sadhwani, describing her as "a real life heroine", lauded her for "voicing her opinions without an iota of inhibition".[173] The Week stated that with her powerful performances, and by voicing her opinions, she "has always stayed ahead of her contemporaries in the industry".[172]

Koechlin looking away from the camera.
Koechlin at an advertisement shoot in 2016

Following her portrayal of such characters as those in Dev.D, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Shaitan, and Margarita With a Straw, Koechlin gained wider recognition and earned the tag of a "nonconformist".[174] Clarisse Loughrey of The Independent described her as "a Bollywood pioneer thanks to her unconventional roles and outspoken public presence".[175] Don Groves of Forbes wrote that she has "managed to subvert stereotypes by playing characters who are nothing like each other".[176] The columnist and film critic Vinayak Chakravorty cites Koechlin as one of the "new 'new wave' actors" who has proved her easy screen presence in her short time in the film industry.[177]

Koechlin is described as a style icon by the Indian media and has been dubbed as the "queen of experimental fashion".[178][179][180][181] Raedita Tandan of Filmfare deemed Koechlin's fashion appeal as "effortless" and "un-diva esque".[181] The slow-process multimedia artist Riyas Komu felt that Koechlin's persona was "inspiring", and that she represented "a sense of eclecticism".[182] Koechlin has been a part of numerous fashion shows, including the Lakme Fashion Week, India International Jewellery Week, and Mijwan Fashion Show (Shabana Azmi's annual fund raiser). She also made a guest appearance at the Milan Fashion Week, one of the global "Big Four Fashion Weeks".[183][184][185][186]

Koechlin is particularly known in the Indian media and film industry for her dedication to her work.[187] Atul Kumar, founder of The Company Theatre, and her co-star in Hamlet, noted: "[h]er commitment as an actor is relentless".[187] The director Shonali Bose, while filming Margarita With a Straw, said Koechlin was able to give perfect long takes for the film because of the "intense hard work that she put into the preparation of her role".[187] Her former husband, Anurag Kashyap—who directed her in three films—believes that she "has grown as an actor since Dev D.".[187] Rajat Kapoor, in whose Hamlet Koechlin performed as Ophelia, believes she is an actress who has the "sensitivity and understanding of filmmaking and theatre".[187]

Koechlin is a celebrity endorser and has been associated with several brands and services, including: Coca-Cola, Olay, Vogue, Micromax, Titan, Grey Goose's Style du jour, and AOC International including the cosmetic giant Oriflame.[188][189][179] In an interview for Asian News International, Koechlin said that she "believes that everyone, whether an actor or a model, should endorse a brand which matches their ideologies".[190] She was also the brand ambassador of the "Cinema For Care" section, aimed at creating awareness about disability issues at the All Lights India International Film Festival (ALIIFF) held in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala in November 2015.[191]

Filmography

Key
Films that have not yet been released Denotes films that have not yet been released
Film
Year Title Role Notes
2009 Dev.D Chandramukhi Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress
2010 The Film Emotional Atyachar Sophie
2011 Shaitan Amrita "Amy" Jayshankar
2011 Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara Natasha Nominated—Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress
2011 That Girl in Yellow Boots Ruth Edscer
2011 My Friend Pinto Maggie
2011 Trishna Herself Cameo appearance[192]
2012 Shanghai Shalini Sahay
2013 Ek Thi Daayan Lisa Dutt
2013 Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani Aditi Mehra Nominated—Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress
2014 Happy Ending Vishakha
2015 Margarita with a Straw Laila National Film Award – Special Jury Award
2015 Waiting Tara Deshpande
2015 Un plus une Herself Cameo appearance[193]
2015 Kaash Elsbeth Cameo appearance[194]
2016 Freedom Matters Herself Documentary film
2016 Living Shakespeare Herself BBC Documentary film
2016 A Death in the Gunj Mimi
2016 Mantra Piya Kapoor
2017 Naked Sandy Short film[195]
2017 Jiah aur Jiah Film has yet to be released Jiah Post-production[196]
2017 Ribbon Film has yet to be released Filming[197]
2017 CandyFlip Film has yet to be released Emily Johnson Filming[122]
2017 Azmaish – Trials of Life Film has yet to be released Filming[121]
Television
Year Title Role Notes
2015 Man's World Cameo appearance
2016 Kalki's Great Escape Herself/ Host[198] 8 episodes[199]
2017 Smoke Film has yet to be released Post-production[200]

Awards and nominations

Year Film Award Category Result Ref.
2009 Skeleton Woman MetroPlus Playwright Award Best English Theatre Script Won [127]
2010 Dev.D Filmfare Awards Best Supporting Actress Won [20]
International Indian Film Academy Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated [201]
Producers Guild Film Awards Best Actress in a Supporting Role Nominated [202]
2012 Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara Filmfare Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated [35]
International Indian Film Academy Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated [203]
Screen Awards Best Ensemble Cast Won [204]
Shaitan Screen Awards Best Actress Nominated [28]
Best Villain Nominated
Best Ensemble Cast Nominated
Stardust Awards Best Actress Nominated [205]
Global Indian Film and Television Honours Best Supporting Actress Won [4]
2014 Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani IIFA Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated [206]
Filmfare Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated [64]
Screen Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated [207]
Producers Guild Film Awards Best Actress in a Supporting Role Nominated [208]
Margarita with a Straw Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival Best Actress Won [87]
2015 Asian Film Awards Best Actress Nominated [90]
Golden Space Needle Awards Best Actress Runner-up [89]
2016 Screen Awards Best Actress (Jury) Won [88]
Best Actress Nominated [88]
FOI Online Awards Best Actress In A Leading Role Nominated [209]
Times of India Film Awards Best Actress (Critics) Won [210]
National Film Awards Special Jury Award Won [86]

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