Sonil Dedhia in Mumbai
Fresh from the success of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Kalki Koechlin seems just as excited about her upcoming film That Girl In Yellow Boots. Kalki has co-written the script of the movie, which is directed by hubby Anurag Kashyap, and is about a British girl in Mumbai in search of her Indian father.
Kalki talks frankly to Sonil Dedhia about the film, her working relations with Anurag and life after marriage.
How did your family and friends react to your performance in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobaara?
I got a mixed response. My brother found me really funny in the film because he didn't find any element of Kalki in Natasha (her character in Zindagi ). My mother loved it and she also loved my costumes in the movie. But she liked me more in Shaitan. Some of my friends liked it and some found it too commercial.
What was Anurag Kashyap's reaction?
Anurag and I saw the film together and he was really impressed with it. He was laughing all the time and amazed with my Hindi because my Hindi has improved a lot and it showed in this movie.
'Bagwati is back to where she belonged'
So how is Bagwati doing?
(Smiles) Bagwati is doing good. Its been a while I have seen her as she had to be returned to the shop where she belonged.
But it was gift to you by Abhay Deol in the movie
I wish. I would have sold it off and would buy a nice car for myself. (Laughs)
How true are the rumours that you and Katrina don't get along?
It's not true at all. I really like Katrina. She has kept her head on her shoulders and she is completely sorted in her career. She knows what she wants to do. We got on really very well and were very surprised to know about these rumours.
You were not present for the promotions of the film.
I was not there only for the first two days of the road trip, and it became a big deal. I do theatre and I was travelling with my group for my new play. Some journalist had to make up a story and they did it by saying that I was pregnant.
'Anurag doesnt want me to act and write together'
Coming to That Girl In Yellow Boots, it's been in the making for more than two years.
Actually, the film was shot in just 13 days, but after that we ran out of money. Anurag has produced the film and we had to beg, borrow and steal to fund this movie. A lot of production houses liked the script but nobody wanted to produce it. Finally, National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) funded us. Anurag wanted to explore the overseas audience with TGIYB so we took it to international film festivals.
Anurag said that he was not going to work with you any more.
No, what he said was that he doesn't want me to act in any of his intense films. It was my suggestion. I want to work with as many directors as possible because with each director you learn something new. Anurag has directed me in two films (Dev D and That Girl in Yellow Boots) and both are very intense films. I want to do a lighter film with him. I would like to work with him in a different style. He has a lot of projects right now, which does not have any scope for me.
Is it also true that he doesn't want to direct films written by you?
(Laughs) What rubbish. He wants me to write more for him. He doesn't want me to act and write together. I also find it difficult to switch between the two. It happened with this film. I would give a shot and then I would think, wait, this doesn't sound right, I need to make some changes in the script. That's when Anurag would intervene and tell me to focus on my acting rather than writing.
'Anurag thinks he is a useless writer'
What inspired you to write this movie?
The basic inspiration was a newspaper article, although the film is not based on a single real-life incident but on many true-life incidents. Anurag had read about a German girl looking for her father in India, and he wanted to add a twist to the story about child abuse. Initially I was just going to act in the film but later on he wanted me to write for him because he wanted a female point of view in the story.
Did you do any kind of research before you started writing?
Anurag had done enough research for the film and would narrate it to me. Also, the film is about a young girl and her journey through the underbelly of Mumbai. I have been born and brought up in India so my personal experience also helped me write the script. For example, there is a scene where Ruth, my character in the film, goes to renew her visa. This has been taken from my personal experience.
Who is a better writer, you or Anurag?
Anurag thinks he is a useless writer. He thinks I'm a much better dialogue writer than he is, but I don't think I'll ever be able to match up to his direction.
'It was cinema that brought Anurag and me together'
How would you define Anurag Kashyap's work?
He makes real cinema. He makes films that come from his upbringing and his perspective about the world. All his films have a flavour of North India and have a flavour of certain sections of society. I would day Dev D also went into a different zone of Delhi and it came from his personal experience. Working with him is a delight.
Anurag the husband or Anurag the director?
I wish I could separate them. I don't think he would be the husband that he is if he wasn't the director that he is. Obviously, it's Anurag the person. It's his personality as much in his films as it is in personal life that I like the most.
Are there any changes after marriage?
Not really. We have been living together for more than two years so nothing has come as a shock. In fact, post marriage, both of us have been really busy, but I guess there is a sense of happiness and the fact that we have committed to each other is important for us.
Is it difficult to come to terms with being married?
It's great because we understand each other's work. It is our passion for our work and cinema that brought us together. Had I been in any other field, or doing some other job, it would have been difficult for me to understand him. I am busy shooting so I am outside for some days or months, and other times he is busy shooting.
'I don't keep track of Anurag'
What has marriage taught you?
It's only been three months so the real test is yet to come! Right now, it's just taught me to be calm in life.
It is said that men change after marriage. Has Anurag changed?
I think over the last three years, he has become a lot calmer and he is rediscovering himself. In his childhood he was a very happy person, he was very determined and had a lot to say. When he started his career in films, everything went against him, which somewhere made him angry and he started acting bitter with the world. But now he has learnt that there is nothing wrong in failing. He has become more confident.
Are there any do's and don'ts that you have set for yourselves?
We trust each other. I never ask him where is he going or what he is doing. Sometimes, I come to know from the newspapers that he was in so and so city. I don't keep track of him and vice versa. We have both been very busy and are very independent and there is no need to question each other.
'Anurag's daughter looks at me as a friend or an older sister'
Photographs: Gunjesh Desai
How is your relationship with Anurag's daughter Aliya?
She is wonderful. What is really nice is that she looks at me as a friend or an older sister rather than as Anurag's wife. I have always tried to keep that relationship and there is no pressure on her part to call me or know me as a stepmother. I don't want her to see me that way. I have always been good with kids as I used to teach drama to kids. I feel we have a good relationship.
You mentioned 2 months ago that you'll are planning a honeymoon. Did it materalise?
No, We have been caught up with a lot of work. I have had a release every month. First it was Shaitan then Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and now TGIYB. After this I have My Friend Pinto which releases next month. We will surely go in September.
Any advice for couples who do not have time for a honeymoon?
If you can't go for a honeymoon, steal a weekend and go somewhere. Anurag and I do it quite often. We switch off our phones and go for a small weekend getaway.