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‘People are ready, the system isn’t’
Anukriti Sharma | Friday, 17 March 2017 AT 10:11 PM IST
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When we caught up with actress Kalki Koechlin during her visit to Pune, she opened up on indie films, her latest movie Mantra and more.

There is so much more to Kalki Koechlin than just being a fine actor. She is flamboyant, outspoken, a proud feminist and a ball of energy. In her latest film Mantra, she plays a daughter who is trying hard to move out of her house (to have sex). She has perfectly portrayed the conflicted mind of a teenager. We caught up with her at the film’s special screening.

The film, set in the late ‘90s depicts the changing times, globalisation, the entry of multinational companies and its impact on the professional and personal life of Kapil Kapoor played by Rajat Kapoor. Kalki shares, “Rajat plays a guy who owns this small Indian company which is going bankrupt. It is symbolic of the times when the old generation was losing out and the new generation was becoming independent. I play Rajat’s daughter Pia who is a chef and works in this really cool restaurant. She wants to move out of her parents’ house. Her father is against this decision causing her to rebel. But it is an ordinary kind of rebellion every teenager goes through. It is about the clash between how we want to be and how our society is still keeping us behind.”

Indie cinema woes
The film took almost two and half years to release owing to the shortage of funds. It prompted the director to go for crowdfunding. But are people accepting the rise in independent cinema in our country? “I feel people are ready but the system isn’t. It is really hard to release an independent film in cinemas. There is one show playing in the daytime while there are seven shows of a big star-studded film. So obviously if you go on bookmyshow.com and see no option, you will end up watching the star-studded film,” Kalki says.

She also believes that the internet has given people a taste of world cinema but even with the change in palates, the system doesn’t allow them to watch it. She adds, “Censorship is another reason why we don’t get to watch good films. Like, there will be an audience for Lipstick under my burkha; I saw the trailer and thought it was great, I want to watch the film but can’t.”

Sex, social media and more

She was also a part of the recently released short film Naked, where she plays the part of a ‘fun and fearless’ actress whose sex scene from a film is leaked on the internet before the film could come out. On his boss’ demand, the journalist in the film, who comes to interview her, has to change the questions to focus on the sex scene. Why are nudity and sex taboos in our country? And why when a film shows these, they become its selling points? Kalki explains, “I think we are still very inhibited. We are still at a stage where people stare us down on the street for wearing short clothes. The only way to change that is to do that more. Go out and not be scared to hangout in public late at night with a bunch of girls. If we don’t do that, we will become more and more conservative. I feel because of globalisation, we are exposed to all of that in some way but our education system has still not tackled that part well.”

She also feels that it is the difference we maintain while raising a boy and a girl, where the problem lies. She adds, “If we start getting it right in this generation, the next generation will start understanding it and then the implementation will take a few more generations. I think social media is still really new and we are the kid generation. So we are like the kid in the candy store going nuts. Take everything, doesn’t matter if it makes you sick. You need to understand that whatever image you put up on social media will become your own image. How much can you handle, what do you want people to know are the kind of things that you learn over time. In the beginning, even I used to put everything about me up on social media.”

Freedom of expression

The 33-year-old actress even shares her views over the fatwa against singer Nahid Afrin. “We have extremism in religion a lot. What I don’t understand is how those people have such power. It is more like a moral, social bullying that happens since legally they don’t have any power. People need to get up and fight against it but in Nahid’s case, it depends on her family and the kind of support she gets around her,” Kalki feels.

Web series, the medium
Kalki is acting in an upcoming web series called Smoke. When asked about the scope of this medium, she says, “I think web series is an experimental platform, people are still trying it out. I think in a few years they can have a better handle over it. Yes, it is the future. Since we are constantly on our phone, it is easy to watch stuff online rather than wait for it to come on TV or go to cinema halls. Having said that, I don’t think it will kill cinema. It is like theatre, it will always exist along with other mediums.”

She is also working on two films with Konkana Sen Sharma — one being Death in the Gunj which she says should be released in two months as well as Raman Bharadwaj’s film that she is currently shooting.

The author can be followed on Twitter @sh_anukriti

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