Kalki Koechlin

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Kalki Koechlin
Kalki Koechlin2.jpg
Kalki at Manish Malhotra's fashion show "Men For Mijwan", 2014
Born Kalki
(1984-01-10) 10 January 1984 (age 31)[1][2]
Papanayakampatti, Tamil Nadu, India
Alma mater Hebron School, Ooty
Occupation Actress, screenwriter[3][4]
Years active 2008–present
Spouse(s) Anurag Kashyap (2011–2013)
Relatives Koechlin family

Kalki Koechlin (French: Listeni/ˌkəlkiˈkklɑː/) (born 10 January 1984[1]) is an Indian film actress of French descent who debuted in Anurag Kashyap's critically acclaimed Hindi film Dev.D (2009). She played the character of Chandramukhi in the film, a modern take on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's Bengali novella Devdas, and won the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal.

Koechlin subsequently featured in the commercially successful comedy-dramas Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013), both of which earned her nominations for the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress. She also worked as a co-screenwriter with then husband Anurag Kashyap for That Girl in Yellow Boots and also starred in the movie receiving praise for her performance.[5][6]

Kalki won The Best Actress Award At The Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival for her role in Margarita, with a Straw. It was the only Indian film to be screened at the festival and garnered immense appreciation from audiences and the jury. The movie also won the prestigious NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) award for "best Asian film from a first or second-time feature director" at the 39th Toronto International Film Festival,[7] with Kalki's performance receiving a standing ovation.[8] She is waiting for the release of Jiah aur Jiah, directed by Howard Rosemeyer. Koechlin is also going to share screen space with Naseeruddin Shah in an upcoming Anu Menon film titled Waiting.

Kalki Koechlin is considered to be one of the few actresses in recent years to build her star power while proving her talent in indie and mainstream Indian cinema.[9] Kalki has been praised and considered one of the few actresses who have grown due to their talent and versatility.[10] The actress though has carved a cosy niche for herself in Bollywood remains accessible to fans.[11] Kalki comes from a theatre background, gradually taking steps towards the more ‘Bollywood’ kind of films.[12]

Early life[edit]

Her father Joel Koechlin came to India from France, 60 years ago and met Kalki Koechlin's mother, Françoise Armandie, at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Auroville, Puducherry. Her parents are devotees of Sri Aurobindo. Eventually they settled in Kallatty, a village near Ooty in Tamil Nadu, where he established a business designing hang-gliders and microlight aircraft. Her ancestor Maurice Koechlin, a French structural engineer, played an important role in the design and construction of the Eiffel Tower.[13]

Koechlin initially attended Kindergarten at Hebron School, Ooty, then did a short stint in a Mysore-based school before completing her schooling back at Hebron, Ooty. Following in her brother's footsteps she attended university in London. Koechlin studied drama and theatre in Goldsmiths, University of London, where she also worked with a theatre company called Theatre of Relativity for two years. She performed in various plays like David Hare's The Blue Room, Marivaux's The Dispute and a devised play The Rise of the Wild Hunt in her two-year stint with the theatre group.[14][15]

Film career[edit]

Debut and Filmfare win[edit]

Kalki received praise and a Filmfare Award for her debut performance in Dev.D

Koechlin later decided to move to Mumbai to try her luck in Hindi cinema. She was doing modelling assignments for television commercials after being shortlisted for the role of Chandramukhi (Chanda) in Dev.D. She was one of the people to be auditioned for the role of the prostitute.[16] Koechlin can speak Tamil, English and French; she had to learn Hindi to prepare for her role in Dev.D. About her role Koechlin said, "My character is much younger and there's much more to it than just being a prostitute. When she is not entertaining customers, she dresses up like any other girl in jeans and stuff and leads a normal life. My role in the film has a controversial streak to it, but I still don't know what would have been an ideal role to debut with. I've got the chance to work with a good director in Dev D and I feel I'm lucky enough." Koechlin was apprehensive about how people will judge her after seeing her in the role.[17] She co-founded Quaff Theatre, a theatre group in 2008.[13]

Upon release, her portrayal of the modern Chandramukhi, who goes from an innocent schoolgirl (Leni) to a vivacious prostitute (Chanda) was critically acclaimed saying "Kalki shows sparks in the scenes".[18] Hindustan Times said, "Enter Chanda, the multilingual call girl who can seduce in Hindi, Tamil, English and French. With her bee-stung lips, unusual face and refreshing lack of acting guile, Kalki Koechlin imbues the part with a touching fragility."[19] For her work in Dev D, she was awarded the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2010. Koechlin paired with the actor Imran Khan for a Coca Cola advertisement.[20] The advert was voted the best of the IPL by the TOI Advertisement awards.


Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara press conference at Chandigarh

In 2011, she was seen in Shaitan produced by Anurag Kashyap. Director Bejoy Nambiar, who assisted Mani Ratnam in Guru, approached Kalki to play a role in the movie. But since the film was not moving for two years, Kashyap agreed to produce it on a smaller budget. Film critic Komal Nahta commented, "Kalki Koechlin performs with admirable ease". She then starred in Zoya Akhtar's Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara alongside Abhay Deol, Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar and Katrina Kaif; Zoya had wanted to work with Kalki ever since seeing her in Dev D and That Girl in Yellow Boots. She felt that Kalki would fit the bill for the character of Natasha, since she had "the sense of comedy, but not over the top."[21] film critic Taran Adarsh commented, "Kalki plays a Mumbai girl belonging to the upper crest and though it's not a typical 'heroine' role, Kalki infuses life into the character, fitting into the conceived character accurately". Komal Nahta wrote, "Kalki Koechlin does very well in a difficult role she stands her own amongst the other actors". Box office India declared the film a super hit with Kalki receiving a Filmfare nomination for her portrayal of Natasha in the movie, the second nomination for Filmfare in career after winning her first in 2010 for Dev.D.

She co-wrote and also starred in Anurag Kashyap's That Girl in Yellow Boots film critics Komal Nahta commented, "Kalki Koechlin delivers a nuanced performance as the tumultuous Ruth. She uses her eyes and body language to the hilt to express varying emotions". Taran Adarsh wrote, "THAT GIRL IN YELLOW BOOTS is embellished with top notch performances, with Kalki scoring brownie points for her super performance in the film. Playing a stylish, sensible, sharp-witted British girl supporting herself by working illegally in a massage parlor, Kalki has the right look for her part, but it does take a lot of guts to portray this intricate role. She has an inimitable talent and onscreen presence by means of which she single-handedly carries the film with her gut wrenching raw performance". Kalki has also helped her husband Anurag Kashyap to write the 2011 film That Girl in Yellow Boots. Same year, Kalki starred in My Friend Pinto alongside Prateik Babbar which was a box-office flop and panned by the critics too, later in 2012, combined with Abhay Deol and Emraan Hashmi in the political-thriller Shanghai where she played the role of a politically active student council member. The movie did moderately well on box-office and was a major hit among movie critics with major praise coming to the performance of the cast including Koechlin.


In the year 2013, Kalki appeared in the supernatural thriller film Ek Thi Daayan directed by Kannan Iyer alongside Hashmi, Huma Qureshi, Konkona Sen Sharma, the movie did well on box-office and was a success among critics too. Kalki then went on star in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani a coming-of-age romantic comedy film, directed by Ayan Mukerji and produced by Karan Johar alongside Ranbir Kapoor, Aditya Roy Kapur and Deepika Padukone. Upon release, the film received positive reviews and was a huge box office success. Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani became the seventh highest grossing Bollywood film of all time in India and worldwide.[2][9][10] The film is also the ninth highest grossing Bollywood films in overseas markets. Koechlin received her third Filmfare Award nomination for her performance in the film.

In September 2013, she was featured in a Video called It's Your Fault for Anti-Rape Campaign along with VJ Juhi Pandey. The Video went viral on Internet with over 150,000 views in just 2 days.[23]

On stage[edit]

Kalki's first love remains the stage. She has written, produced and acted in many stage plays in India. Most recently in Colour Blind which she co-wrote.[24][25] She won the prestigious MetroPlus Playwright award in 2009 for the play "Skeleton Woman" which she co-wrote with Prashant Prakash.[26] Other plays include Trivial Disasters, "The Real Inspector Hound", "Hair"(where she incarnates Rapunzel) "Hamlet, the Clown Prince" (Directed by Rajat Kapoor) among some of her works. In her interview she said, "Theatre is really an actor’s playground", and continued "There’s nothing like performing for a live audience. Ego-wise also, because you get this goose-bumps-and-applause thing. Also your subtleties as an actor are in play because you don’t have retakes. It doesn’t matter what day you’re having, good or bad, once you come to the rehearsal hall, you leave everything behind. When you’re on stage, you’re in the show. That’s the thing I love to come back to. I always get sharpened as an actor.".

Personal life[edit]

Kalki with husband Anurag Kashyap She married filmmaker Anurag Kashyap on 30 April 2011 in a private wedding ceremony in Ooty.[27] The two had been dating since the release of Dev.D.[28][29] The two separated in 2013 after 2 years of marriage.

Koechlin was unemployed for a year and a half after Dev.D. Koechlin was cast in her husband's next films That Girl in Yellow Boots, both produced and directed by Kashyap and Shaitan which was produced by Kashyap but directed by Bejoy Nambiar.[30] On 13 November 2013 both Koechlin and Kashyap issued a joint statement saying they were separating.[31] In an interview Koechlin said"As soon as Anurag and I started dating we spoke about it. We didn't want to use the 'we're only friends' line," but later said that she now regrets being so transparent about her personal life. "It just takes centre stage instead of your work, which is what you should be in the limelight for," she added.

On the topic of 'What makes a woman beautiful?' Kalki says, " Confidence is what makes a woman beautiful. But, everyone has doubts, we're all human. 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 and there's that one spot right in the middle of your nose, when you're supposed to do a very important close-up scene. 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!" [32]

In the media[edit]

Being French, and born and raised in Puducherry, Kalki has broken stereotypes all her life. “I always get questions like, Do you like India? You can eat spicy food? And in the streets they will be like ‘Hey beauty’. Only when you turn around and reply in Tamil, can you break that image,” she says. The perception, to some degree, continues to dog her even today. After separating from her husband, filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, last year, it wasn’t easy for Koechlin to find an apartment. “When I moved into my flat, I could see my neighbours were suspicious. They probably thought — ‘White girl, just broke up with Anurag, Bollywood actress…’ But I knocked on their door and said hello. They later said, ‘Kitni simple ladki hai. So nice.’ So the stereotype breaks as soon as you do it,” she explains.

Koechlin unveils 'The Year of the Tiger' book.

Also talking about her 'white-girl' image, when relating her career, she said, "I have been a victim of stereotypes in my teenage years, in India. I was labelled as a 'white girl'; the idea of a white girl being someone with 'low-morals'. A lot of people assumed that since I was white, I was easy to flirt with. Also, when you're a Bollywood actress, people think that you 'party-all-night' and you won't do any work. You have to break that image."

The socially aware actor who has been a part of variety awareness campaigns emerged as the fresh new face of Bollywood who is vocal about women's equality and gender issues. She spoke at a conference on child sexual abuse (CSA) organised by actor Rahul Bose's NGO H.E.A.L.. She performed a monologue titled 'An Intense Piece about the Truths of Womanhood' on Women's Day at the India Today Conclave. The 16-minute act, which established a legacy of suppression dating back to ancient mythology and moving forward to a contemporary look at identity, selfworth and disempowerment, received rave reviews and set social media forums abuzz for its personal tone and powerful delivery, interjected with wry humour — "Five husbands..." she says of Draupadi's plight. "That can't be fun. God knows, in fact everybody knows, I have trouble with one" .Her monologue which talked about the daily wars women have to wage against patriarchy, had bits from her personal diary as well also made headlines. Though rooting for Everywoman, Koechlin prefers to call herself a humanist over a feminist, urging people to celebrate 'Equal Day' instead of a day for women.[33]

She says that, "I've always been outspoken,especially on these issues. But no one really took notice. I guess it's a bit of timing as well. Women's issues are being discussed a lot more now, and in this context maybe my views just gained sudden prominence." Koechlin believes that questions around social awareness aren't asked of celebrities as much. Hence if any one makes a strong statement of any kind, it makes headlines. "For example, journalists never asked me about women's issues 3 years ago. They only had the usual dumb questions to ask! Very few people ask me about the process of making the film," she says and adds as an afterthought, "I feel there's also a lot more interviews and promotions these days. These promotional events have become such a whoring of the actor." [34]

Kalki Koechlin is a sports enthusiasts and loves mountain trekking. The actress took up to trekking ever since she visited Manali as a child. In an interview she mentioned. "Besides Manali, I also enjoy trekking places like Leh and Ladakh. It gives you a different high all together,". Besides trekking Kalki enjoys going on long walks. "Born and brought up in Ooty, I used to walk to all the places in and around the vicinity. Even today whenever I get the time I go trekking or walking with family and friends, an activity I thoroughly enjoy," she says.[35]


Year Film Role Language Notes
2009 Dev.D Lenny / Chanda / Chandramukhi Hindi
2010 The Film Emotional Atyachar Sophie Hindi
2011 Shaitan Amrita "Amy" Jayshankar Hindi
2011 Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara Natasha Hindi
2011 That Girl in Yellow Boots Ruth Edscer English / Hindi
2011 My Friend Pinto Maggie Hindi
2012 Trishna Herself English / Hindi Special appearance
2012 Shanghai Shalini Sahay Hindi
2013 Ek Thi Daayan Lisa Dutt Hindi
2013 Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani Aditi Mehra Hindi
2014 Happy Ending Vishakha Hindi
2015 Margarita, With a Straw Laila Hindi Releasing April 17
2015 Mantra Piya English / Hindi Post-production
2015 Love Affair TBA Hindi Filming


Year Award Category Film Result
2010 Filmfare Awards Best Supporting Actress Dev.D Won[36]
International Indian Film Academy Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Apsara Film & Television Producers Guild Award Best Actress in a Supporting Role Nominated
2012 Filmfare Awards Best Supporting Actress Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara Nominated[37]
International Indian Film Academy Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Screen Awards Best Actress Shaitan Nominated
Screen Awards Best Villain Nominated
Stardust Awards Best Actress Nominated
The Global Indian Film and TV Honours Best Supporting Actress Won
2014 Screen Awards Best Ensemble Cast Nominated
IIFA Awards Best Supporting Actress Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani Nominated
Filmfare Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated[38]
Screen Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Bollywood Hungama Surfers' Choice Movie Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival Best Actress Margarita, with a Straw Won
2015 Asian Film Awards Best Actress Pending


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  25. ^ "Decoding the Bard". Verve Magazine. 26 Feb 2014. 
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  34. ^ See more at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/brunch/brunch-stories/kalki-koechlin-i-had-dismissed-bollywood-because-of-all-the-jhatkas-and-matkas/article1-1283540.aspx#sthash.EHdQ7TOW.dpuf
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  37. ^ "Nominations for 57th Idea Filmfare Awards 2011". Bollywood Hungama. 11 January 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  38. ^ "59th Idea Filmfare Awards Nominations". 14 January 2014. 

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