Kalki Koechlin

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Kalki Koechlin
Kalki Koechlin2.jpg
Koechlin at Manish Malhotra's fashion show "Men For Mijwan", 2014
Born Kalki Koechlin
(1984-01-10) 10 January 1984 (age 31)[1][2]
Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India
Citizenship Indian
Alma mater Hebron School, Ooty
Occupation Actress, screenwriter[3][4]
Years active 2008–present
Spouse(s) Anurag Kashyap (2011–2015)
Relatives See Koechlin family
Koechlin's voice was recorded in 2014.

Kalki Koechlin (French: Listeni/ˌkəlkiˈkklɑː/) (born 10 January 1984[1]) is an Indian film actress of French descent who is known for her work in Hindi films.

Koechlin made her screen debut with a supporting role in the 2009 critically acclaimed Dev.D, which earned her the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress. She subsequently featured in the commercially successful comedy-dramas Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013), one of the highest-grossing Bollywood films, both of the movies earned her nominations for the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress. She also worked as a co-screenwriter with her then husband Anurag Kashyap for That Girl in Yellow Boots and also starred in the movie.[5][6]

Koechlin won The Best Actress Award At The Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival for her role in Margarita, with a Straw (2014) which was the only Indian film to be screened at the festival, and was also the runner up at Seattle International Film Festival for Best Actress.[7] Other notable works include thriller film Shaitan (2011), My Friend Pinto (2011), the critically successful political thriller Shanghai (2012) and the romantic comedy Happy Ending (2014).

Apart from her acting career Kalki has written, produced and acted in many stage plays in India. Her most recent play Colour Blind (2014) a take on the life and times of Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore which she co-wrote, screened at the Sir Mutha Venkata Subba Rao Hall in August 2014. She has written a number of other theater plays and has won accolades for her work including the The MetroPlus Playwright Award for the play Skeleton Woman (2009).[8]

Early life[edit]

See also: Koechlin family

Her father Joel Koechlin came to India from Angers France, 60 years ago and met her 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.[9]

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.[10][11]

Film career[edit]

Debut and Filmfare win[edit]

Koechlin received a Filmfare Award for her debut performance in Dev.D

Koechlin later decided to move to Mumbai to try her luck in the Hindi cinema. She was doing modeling assignments for television commercials after being shortlisted for the role of Chandramukhi (Chanda) in Dev.D. Koechlin is trilingual, speaking 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."

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".[12] 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."[13] For her work in Dev D, she was awarded the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2010. Koechlin paired with actor Imran Khan for a Coca Cola advertisement.[14] 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 Koechlin 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 Koechlin ever since seeing her in Dev D and That Girl in Yellow Boots. She felt that Koechlin would fit the bill for the character of Natasha, since she had "the sense of comedy, but not over the top."[15] 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 Koechlin 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".

That same year, Koechlin starred in My Friend Pinto alongside Prateik Babbar which was a box-office flop and panned by critics. Later in 2012, she 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 in the box-office and was a major hit among movie critics.


In the year 2013, Koechlin 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. She 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 mixed 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.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.

Koechlin starred in Margarita With A Straw and won the Best Actress award at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.

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 2 days.[17] The video mocks the Indian mindset that blames women for provoking rape.[18][19]

Koechlin starred in Shonali Bose's coming of age drama Margarita With A Straw in which she plays a girl with cerebral palsy. The movie talks about her struggle with the normal activities in her life. The film made its world premiere on 8 September 2014 as part of the Contemporary World Cinema Programme at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). The movie later went on to be screened at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival in Estonia, BFI London Film Festival, Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF).[20][21][22] It is expected to have a national release in India on 17 April 2015.[23]

The film gathered huge critical acclaim worldwide and won the NETPAC award International Asian Film Premiere at 2014 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

Koechlin won The Best Actress award at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival held in Estonia in 2014.[24][25] The Film won the Audience Award and the Youth Jury Award at Vesoul Film Festival in France in 2015.[26] Won Asian Film Awards for the Best Composer Award 2015.[27][28]

Deepanjana Pal in her review for Firstpost wrote on Koechiln's performance, "The actress (Kalki) has done a good job of miming the physicality of someone with cerebral palsy, but what is truly remarkable is the lack of artifice in her expressions. Koechlin is fantastic at showing that combination of vulnerability, unsureness as well as mulish determination that is adolescence. Not for a moment does she seem false." [29]

Livemint wrote," Kalki does not merely work out minuscule variations of one erratic note or tic for her character, as actors playing characters with disability often do but tries to bring alive the irrepressible human being on that wheelchair while being committed to the character’s behavioral truth." [30]

TOI wrote, "Margarita With A Straw is an acting triumph. Kalki is amazing, imprisoned in a wheelchair but her spirit flying as she tastes the delights and dilemmas, from crushes to creative pushes, of a college student's life. Giggling, crying, even masturbating, Kalki portrays Laila, charmer, bummer, winner, with unabashed perfection." [31]

On stage[edit]

Koechlin has written, produced and acted in many stage plays in India, most recently in Color Blind which she co-wrote.[32][33] She won the prestigious MetroPlus Playwright award in 2009 for the play "Skeleton Woman" which she co-wrote with Prashant Prakash.[34] 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, "Theater 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." Kalki has opened her own theater company, 'Little Productions' and has plans to turn to a play director too. She took to Twitter to make the announcement and shared the official Facebook page of Little Productions, "So like, I'm all grown up, with my own theater company and directing my first play...," actress posted.[35]

Personal life[edit]

Koechlin with her ex-husband Anurag Kashyap The two had been dating since the release of Dev.D.[36][37]

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.[38] On 13 November 2013 both Koechlin and Kashyap issued a joint statement saying they were separating.[39] In Oct 2014 couple had filed for divorce. On 19 May 2015 morning Anurag Kashyap and actress Kalki Koechlin arrived at the Mumbai family court together and later on, in an interview to Times of India, Kalki confirmed the news of the couple having filed for divorce. She said: "Right now, I am in a good space. Last year was a little bit more of a struggle, as I didn’t know where I was going. I wasn’t sure where my relationship with Anurag was going. All of it was unclear. Now, we are pretty clear that we are not going to be together. We have already applied for divorce and will get it soon."[40][41]

Anurag and Kalki have shared a healthy relationship post separation, and were often heard talking about their friendship. Anurag, who appeared on Koffee with Karan in the year 2014 was all praise for Kalki. After watching the show Kalki said, "He (Anurag) was saying what he really felt. I found it very touching. Of course, I was moved by what he said. We have a relationship where we can talk to each other."[40]

On being asked 'What makes a woman beautiful?' Koechlin 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!" [42]

In the media[edit]

Koechlin unveils The Year of the Tiger book.

Being French, and born and raised in Puducherry, Koechlin has broken stereotypes and has stated of it, "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, you can break that image," she says. After separating from her husband and finding a residence, she spoke of her neighbors' mannerisms, "When I moved into my flat, I could see my neighbors 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."

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."

The actress has been a part of variety awareness campaigns and 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.[43]

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."

Kalki and Vishal Bhardwaj a enjoy polo match at Ladakh.

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 she 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.[44]


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


Year Award Category Film Result
2010 Filmfare Awards Best Supporting Actress Dev.D Won[45]
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[46]
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[47]
Screen Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival Best Actress Margarita with a Straw Won
2015 Asian Film Awards Best Actress Nominated


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