She is not the usual masala film actress but a feisty, strong-willed woman, a beauty with brains whose unconventional bold characters have made her a brand in Bollywood. Yes, we are talking about the birthday girl, Kalki Koechlin, whose passion for theatre is not just restricted to acting. Known for her outspoken nature, Kalki uses this creative platform to voice her opinions on socially relevant issues as seen in AIB’s It’s Your Fault video, Y-Films's series Man’s World and Culture Machine’s Printing Machine.
An actress and writer of French roots, Kalki began her theatre journey at the age of 18 while studying drama and theatre at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her first break on silver screen came with Dev. D in 2009 when she delivered a spectacular performance playing a prostitute. And then there was no stopping. Kalki thereafter played challenging roles on-screen and on-stage both as an actor and writer. Today, she is recognised as one of the finest in the industry with one National Film Award and Filmfare each and two Screen Awards.
On her birthday, let’s look at some of her best roles and the lessons we can take from them.
Ruth in That Girl in Yellow Boots
The dynamic Kalki wanted an optimistic ending contrary to Anurag Kashyap's preference for melancholy. Though the climax was depressing, Kalki’s role as Ruth taught us how to stay determined and independent amidst constant despair and hopelessness.
Amy in Shaitan
Kalki as Amy in Shaitan gives us some really audacious friendship goals. Getting kidnapped for mistakes committed out of recklessness is no heropanti but what needs to be emphasised is to what lengths one can go for friends. Amy, like other characters in the film, also showed us the darker self that lurks inside us that need to be tamed to avoid adversities in future.
Natasha in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
Apart from the bromance of the lead cast, what caught the eye was Kalki’s unexpected portrayal of Natasha, an insecure and possessive partner who ends up losing her fiancé. Natasha teaches us to nurture aspects of love, trust and fidelity to make our relationships stronger.
Shalini in Shanghai
Kalki played the role of Shalini, a young, angry but passionate woman eager to drive change in the society. One prime lesson we all can take home from Shalini is to be empathetic to the society around us.
Aditi in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
Here, Kalki taught us to have fun like there’s no tomorrow. Even with superstars like Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor, Kalki’s performance stood out. Adorning a highly effervescent character, her character is definitely a reminder to all those who forget to live today while worrying about tomorrow.
Laila in Margarita With a Straw
Undoubtedly her best performance till date, the film won her a National Award for the outstanding portrayal of a rebellious young woman suffering from cerebral palsy. Laila teaches us to set out on a journey of self-discovery beating all odds along the way.