You rarely see her essaying roles that substantiate the quintessential glam life of Bollywood but within her voluptuous repertoire of essence defining identity lies a soul that is more sparkled up in the beauty of life than any other. That’s Kalki Koechlin for you- one of the most remarkable Indian actresses of the present times who does not rely on sleek and shine to bring forth her own credibilities as an insanely genius actor.
From the straight face that she puts up, you would think here’s one lady so full of herself, so steeped in esteem that she would not identify with anything that is exclusive to the masses. But it’s perhaps a bow to the versatility that she encompasses which has enabled Koechlin to seamlessy integrate her innate charm with a plethora of talents so dynamic that each performance she puts up seems like a whiff of fresh air that just caresses you by- soothing yet unwavering. Perhaps it’s also that same straight face that has helped the lady be more impactful- you never know how she is further going to morph her sensibilities to churn out something that is at least as effectively soul stirring.
Kalki speaks for beauty rather than letting the aesthetics do wonders to her. Underlying her each appearance and every performance is so much depth of perception as well as of artistic grace that feels like she is tearing apart her soul to reveal the inner beauty that lies within her. On screen or parallely on stage, she transforms with such ease that you are left wondering whether this indeed is the essayment of a character or the character herself that has left you awestruck.
Like most other offbeat, unconventional actors who are no longer few and far between even in Bollywood, Koechlin owes her allegiance to the stage. Theater is something she loves and which loves her back- allowing her to mould herself in excellence that ensures her persona grows as perfect as ever. But even when the stage has forever beckoned her and made realms all the more expansive for her, Kalki does not shy away from even her fetish with the big screen. Like a true artiste, she incorporates elements of both while striving to give away as much commendability as her dual devotion would allow her to.
Her penchant for the arts finds expression off stage as well. Even when she has been bewitchingly enamoring in her many portrayals under lights, Kalki also has her way with words. It isn’t just her body that emotes perfectly well, it’s also her mind that articulates as fluently as free flowing expression of intricate yearnings. Perhaps her choice of films also rests in this perception of sentient understandings- she does roles that have a really strong bearing in spirit. To enumerate her filmography would be an easy task, to dwell on a lucid elucidation of the same, not so much convenient for all. Koechlin brings forth such energy that can be adapted as per her will, which she dictates with effortless ease to put up a burst of brilliance through her vivid interpretations.
With her white, ‘non- Indian’ like complexion, fitting into mainstream Bollywood roles of very conscious heroines was almost elusive to Kalki. But the talented actor has never been one to conform to norms. Rather, she etched out her own path even while sparsely essaying ordinary characters. Most of the times however, Kalki preferred to go the road less traveled and preferred dwelling on glorious ideas more than hollow ideologies. The result is a churn of films that tickle the sentiment effectively enough to not let Koechlin fuss about mere numbers. It’s in fact the pursuit of the art rather than the wallow of entertainment that is most pertinent, at least for an actor.
Surprisingly yet not so surprisingly, critical acclaim has come relatively easy for Kalki over audience recognition. Whether it be the fleeting feels of realisation or the not so mainstay presence of most of her works, Kalki had been relatively in obscurity till only recently when the new wave of alternative Indian cinema took over. Also with the more encompassing web series coming to fore that transcends genres and acceptance, stars like Kalki are now being seen in a newer light- one that lets them shine on their way without having to give in to conventions.
Histrionic abilities apart, Kalki Koechlin is as deft a thinker who sticks to reason even when nursing a highly idiosyncratic mind. She is as eloquent about her views on casting couch and #MeToo in Bollywood as she is about her personal brush with sexual abuse, her take on feminism and gender equality, her dynamism on love and other very intimate experiences. It is perhaps her resolution to remain true to her spirit and roots that Kalki asserts her oneness with collective issues. She retains her identity in as many basic ways as possible. Be it her Pondicherry home that instills minute elements of rustic connectedness and the Indian essence or even her presence on social media as Kalki Kanmani, which is her childhood pet name, the actress has adorably retained some of her most prized possessions. And while it might seem like we are deliberating weaving webs out of disconnected threads, what perhaps is undeniable that it is this belonginess that is manifested even in Koechlin’s professional life. It isn’t without any effort that Kalki translates each of her characters to a version of her self- this indeed is an extension of how she is as a person and bears therefore much of her reverence for her ethnic beginnings.
With her effervescent exuberance, Kalki brings to life her characters with such elan that critics have been unanimous in heralding her as an actor who is ‘ever dependable’ with her exploits on screen, persuasive in her cinematic assertion and someone who remains unrestricted with her expression yet conforming perfectly within the limits of her portrayal.
Her aura is such that she holds minds and attention in captivation. Expanding from her initial dark, disturbing portrayals to playing socially conscious and relevant characters on screen, Koechlin indeed has come a long way. Like every other creative person, Kalki does not want to be identified with only a set precedent of instantly identifiable presence. She would rather be in so much harmony with diverse characters that make her virtually indiscernible if that means widening the genre prospects for her. For someone who does not fear an identity crisis and is more than comfortable of being in her own skin, Kalki Koechlin stands her ground as resolutely as ever, frankly extravagant yet essentially doing the minimalistic vibes with just her kind of flair.