She jots things down constantly—in books and newspapers, on magazine covers and even serviettes—thoughts, observations and emotions. The Waiting actress then collects them all, to pore over later, and perhaps glean an idea or two. Two years ago, at the India Today Conclave on International Women’s Day, this led to a powerful 20-minute monologue by Kalki Koechlin, Soul of a Woman—a performance that went viral, with many of us playing its YouTube video on loop. Now, the actress-cum-theatre director is bringing it down to Chennai. Though she admits she isn’t adding any new thoughts to the piece—which delved into what a woman is, how she is perceived and what she wants—the 32-year-old says, “It’s always the discussion that follows that is more interesting. Though most people are familiar with it, there is something to be said about watching it live; it’s more interesting than online. It will also, hopefully, remind them of certain things and I anticipate very heated arguments.”
Taking her stand
To be presented on Tuesday, in collaboration with FICCI Flo and Crea Shakthi, the event will be hosted by comedienne-actor Anuradha Menon, with a panel discussion chaired by director Mahesh Dattani. “It’s hard to call Kalki’s monologue merely a performance. It is straight from the heart—it is expressive, personal, political and angry,” says The Big Fat City director, adding, “The gender divide is only growing stronger as our society turns more regressive day by day. I wouldn’t be surprised if a social survey suggests that the position of women has worsened over the last 15 years or so. So Kalki’s diatribe is still very relevant.”
Since she debuted Soul of a Woman, Koechlin has come out with another monologue, The Printing Machine, a critique of sensationalism in the media (which also went viral), besides two smaller performances—a parody on consumerism and small ditty on filter coffee, “In fact, I think I will perform the one on coffee in Chennai. It’s good fun, like a small nursery rhyme,” she laughs, telling me that putting these performances together (and going through her notes) is very therapeutic.
Running on full
Just back from shooting a show for Fox Life—a 5,000-km motorbike ride through the North East with her father—Koechlin is already immersed in work. She is collaborating with Pakistani director Sabiha Sumar on a documentary on India and Pakistan; is getting set to travel with her new play—Rajat Kapoor’s What is Done, is Done, a take on Macbeth, but with clowns—has wrapped up Nicholas Kharkongor’s movie, Mantra, about a Delhi family dealing with bankruptcy in the ’90s (when MNCs just entered the country); and is shooting for Konkona Sen Sharma’s directorial debut, Death at the Ganj, set in the ’70s, where she plays a half Bengali-half French character. And in the midst of it all, she is still jotting down notes.
On June 7, at The Music Academy, from 7 pm.
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