Talented Dev D star Kalki Koechlin returns to her first love this weekend with a performance of her play The Skeleton Woman in a Delhi theatre. The play is based on an Inuit folk tale about a fisherman-writer who one day catches a skeleton in his net. The skeleton follows him home, becoming a mysterious part of his life and a relationship develops between them. “The tale haunted me. It’s about life, love, loneliness and death, and about metaphorical deaths within relationships,” says Kalki, who was educated at Goldsmith’s College in London and has worked with the London Theatre of Relativity.
Euro-Indian Kalki has French parents who moved to India in the sixties as hippies and like many legendary Bollywood stars before her such as Helen, Kalki identifies fully with India and it was natural for her to return there after being educated in the UK. “Returning to India was not so much a strategic decision as a personal one,” she explains, “I was born and brought up in India; this is where I call home. Even if I travel all over the world, this is where I want to have a base.”
Kalki draws inspiration from a wide range of independent cinema in France, the US and India and is taking care to choose her next role carefully. “I have no plan except to continue working hard and improving myself as an actor,” she confides, “I want to do more film work and carry on with my theatre work too. Nothing is set in stone as yet as far as signing contracts but things are looking good.”
She is particularly concerned about the depths of stereotype in Indian cinema, where women have to be either pure and good, or total vamps, concepts she so successfully highlighted in Dev D. “I think women have been portrayed too often as the sweet virgin or the evil vamp, as black or white. I don’t think stereotypes are ever serious. We, as women in the industry, should look to break that stereotype if we want to be taken seriously as actors.”