Kalki: 10 Films That Inspired Me To Become An Actor
It is difficult to imagine that bohemian Kalki Koechlin was raised in a conservative environment in South India.
Her childhood was mostly spent in stunning Pondicherry and Ooty.
Films were not taboo, but her French parents were particular about the kind of movies she watched.
After schooling, Kalki studied theatre and drama at Goldsmiths College, University of London.
She worked with a local theatre company for two years before leaving for Mumbai. Her debut film, Dev D, was memorable in more ways than one -- it was where she met future husband, director Anurag Kashyap.
Kalki struggled when Rediff.com's Sonil Dedhia asked her to list 10 films that had inspired her to become an actor.
"I have seen so many," she said. "It's difficult to choose."
Kalki finally came up with her list, which we present as part of our celebration of Indian cinema's 100th anniversary:
Director: Shekhar Kapur
I saw the film when I was around 12 with my parents. It left a very strong impact on me.
It made me feel the need to go out into society and make an impact.
It also made me realise that cinema and acting are a powerful medium to convey a message. It really touched me.
Image: Kalki Koechlin
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com
I watched Salaam Bombay when I was a child.
It showed a lot of things like drugs, prostitution, juvenile jails and opened a completely new world to me.
I grew up in a protective environment. The film made me feel grateful for my life. It also stopped me from feeling sorry for myself.
Image: Shafiq Syed and Hansa Vithal in a scene from Salaam Bombay
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron
Director: Kundan Shah
I wasn't exposed to a lot of Hindi films before I became an actress. I recently saw Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron. Anurag (Kashyap) introduced me to the film.
I just loved the film. I thought it was really funny. I know Naseer (Naseeruddin Shah) and Sudhir Mishra so it was really exciting to see these guys when they were young.
It had a certain innocence and truly deserves to be on the all-time classics list of Hindi cinema.
Image: Ravi Baswani, Naseeruddin Shah and Bhakti Barve in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron
Director: Mani Ratnam
I saw it in Tamil in a theatre when I was 11. It made me cry. Every child loved that film.
I could relate to the film so much. I remember the songs, which were so innocent. I would sing them and dance.
I had a lot of Tamil friends and we would really enjoy watching the film.
Image: Anu, Shamili and Tarun in Anjali
Director: Gautham Menon
I was studying drama and theatre in London. It was the first time I had gone so far for studies. It was a very tough year for me as I was homesick.
I missed my parents, my friends and the weather in India. The winter in London is extreme. I had to cook for myself and earn money. I would study on weekdays and work as a waitress over the weekend.
I came back to India on a holiday and Kaakha Kaakha was playing in the theatres.
When I saw the film, it gave me the homecoming feeling. I was so happy to see the songs and dances and hard core drama.
Back in London, we were watching some serious, alternative, cinema. I really enjoyed watching Kaakha Kaakha which was a full-on masala entertainer.
I had a big crush on Suriya and it was all the more reason to see the film.
Image: Suriya and Jyothika in Kaakha Kaakha
Director: Satyajit Ray
I have seen some Satyajit Ray films. I don't know why, but Jalsaghar sticks in my head. I don't remember when I saw the film, but I really loved it.
I distinctly remember the scenes where the protagonist would call the dancers in the night. It was an indulgent, aspirational, kind of film which made me feel like dancing, but the fact remains that I still can't dance!
I would love to be a part of a film like Jalsaghar, which was like visual poetry.
Image: The magnificient Chhabi Biswas, left, in Jalsaghar
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
Director: Karan Johar
I was a teenager when I saw the film. Kajol was awesome. She played a really bubbly and tomboyish character, which I wish to portray on screen at some point of time.
In my next film, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, my character has similar shades.
I also had a Shah Rukh Khan poster (smiles). He was like a teenage god for the girls.
Image: Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Devdas released when I was studying in London. I saw the film in a theatre in Southall with my friends.
The film wasn't really amazing, but it connected me back to home. I love its huge canvas.
The whole setting was so beautiful. Madhuri Dixit's song and dance sequences made me in awe of her.
I made my debut in Dev D which was a modern and alternative take on Devdas. It was sheer coincidence.
Although it was nowhere close to all the Devdas movie made earlier, I was proud that I could be a part of it.
Image: Aishwarya Rai and Shah Rukh Khan in Devdas
Vishal Bhardwaj's films
I first saw Omkara, then I watched Maqbool, which was followed by The Blue Umbrella.
I discovered this whole side of Indian cinema. Omkara was so beautifully done. Every character in the film was well defined. The performances by the entire cast were so powerful.
I also loved Maqbool. It was Vishal's masterpiece.
The discovery of Vishal Bhardwaj as a director had a huge influence on me. I would buy the DVDs of these films and send them to my family in France.
I remember the first time I met him after he saw Dev D. Vishal came up and complimented me. I didn't recognise him. After he left, I asked my friend who he was and when she told me he was Vishal Bhardwaj, I felt like hitting myself.
I went up to him later and said that I was a big fan of his work and would like to work with him.
Image: Tabu and Irrfan in Maqbool
Director: Ramesh Sippy
I saw it on video long ago. I don't remember anything except for one scene, which made a huge impact on me.
I remember Hema Malini dancing on broken glass pieces for the song Jab Tak Hai Jaan. It was very traumatic. It was one powerful image, which has stayed with me till today.
I have always wanted to be a part of a visual medium like cinema and theatre where people can remember scenes or particular moments.
I loved Hema Malini's character Basanti. I would love to play Basanti.
Image: Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachchan in one of Hindi cinema's best-known sequences