In Zoya Akhtar’s Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, we first see Kalki Koechlin melting away in milky sweetness, pouty and wide-eyed, smiling and dewy with joy next to the man she is going to marry. As jokes are cracked, a toast given and a cloyingly sweet song sung, she looks blissfully happy. Just moments later, she is adjusting her dress and gossiping with friends and there is a marked difference in her demeanour. There is no trace of the guilelessly joyful girl she was playing a few minutes before. She has hard eyes, almost too watchful, too self-aware, hinting at the duality in the relationship she shares with Kabir (Abhay Deol). She is ready to give up her career for him but will also without any qualms, crash his bachelor’s trip to keep an eye on him and pick on his friends.
This kind of duality by now is a keynote in all of Kalki’s performances. She has beguiling sunshine and innocence that almost always leads to another layer, besmirched, dark, gey or just human. Be it the compromised school girl in Dev D or the deeply troubled manipulator in Shaitan, there is always more to her than is immediately visible. After the disturbingly dark That Girl in Yellow Boots, her new film My Friend Pinto promises to celebrate her elfin charm in a quirky, heart-warming romance but few of us knew till recently that she is a playwright and theater actor too. She was in Bangalore to play Ophelia in Rajat Kapoor’s Hamlet-The Clown Prince and brought to the role, her usual ability to wear multiple faces while toying with a character. So in places, she is a naive rookie clown, playful and childish and then, morphs into deeply disturbed, wounded soul. Defaced almost, hurt and broken, lost and wistful.
Unboxed Writers caught up with her to learn more about the process that led to this performance.
How is it working on a devised piece of performance?
It is refreshing. There is more liberty to change and improvise not only in rehearsals but during shows too.
What was Rajat’s role in the process?
In my case, he intevened only when I used to space out in the middle of rehearsals…
Are comic and tragic elements easy to blend in a performance?
They are actually very close to each other as emotions. Laughter can quickly turn into tears but they are also both difficult to fake.
What was your connect with the play?
I connected because the fun, gibberish and clowning give me a sense of freedom on stage to be a cheeky little kid, or a magician, or a tragic beauty or whatever else it may be. The best thing for me is never having the same show twice. The acting is also adapting to each performance.
How were the rehearsals?
Sometimes trying to be funny can be really awkward and idiotic. At other times, the unintentional joke end up being the funniest. My co-actors are greedy, talented and full of life!
Memorable moments ?
Falling back on ‘gibberish’ to cover up line mess ups has happened to all the actors at least once I think. and then of course there was Puja (Sarup) falling off the bench in Prithvi!
Reema Moudgil is the author of Perfect Eight (http://www.flipkart.com/b/books/perfect-eight-reema-moudgil-book-9380032870?affid=unboxedwri )