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Monday, June 25, 2018

Character Sketch

She's in news for everything the unforgiving film industry would sneer about but Kalki Koechlin,who plays Chandramukhi in Anurag Kashyap’s Dev D,is keeping her fingers crossed.

Written by DIPTI NAGPAUL D’SOUZA | Published: February 1, 2009 3:57:03 am

Kalki Koechlin debuts amidst controversies

She’s in news for everything the unforgiving film industry would sneer about but Kalki Koechlin,who plays Chandramukhi in Anurag Kashyap’s Dev D,is keeping her fingers crossed. “I know this isn’t the perfect way to start one’s career in the film industry— not only do I debut as a prostitute,as the contemporary version of Chandramukhi,an iconic character,but also participate in a lust line and date my ‘controversial’ director,” she laughs nervously,adding,“But then,what is a perfect debut,really?”

Born and raised up in India to French parents,Bangalore-based Koechlin moved to Mumbai two years ago and has been working in theatre since. She bagged the role after a string of auditions held by UTV for Kashyap’s film that is supposed to be a contemporary take on Saratchandra Chattopadhyay’s classic,Devdas.

“To my surprise,I was asked to avoid all references since they wanted a fresh outlook on the character,” explains the actress.

Chanda,as she is called in Dev D,is the victim of the infamous MMS scandal. With no support from family,Chanda finds it easy to reject the value system and venture into a world where she doesn’t see herself as an exception. “But she’s more real. Unlike Chandramukhi who has a heart of gold,Chanda makes no excuses for the choices she’s made and even lives a normal student life in the daytime.”

There was indeed pressure to perform “since Chandramukhi is drawn from a popular classic” but the biggest challenge for the young actress was to control the instinct of portraying an overtly sexual character.

“Confidence and comfort with one’s sexuality can at times be translated erroneously. Moreover,there’s certain vulnerability in Chanda—she has her weaknesses too — which was difficult to project,” the 21-year-old explains.

Koechlin also had to work hard on her accent and Hindi. “Meri Hindi bahot buri hai (I’m very bad at Hindi),” she says,sounding like a pro but confesses,“I had a teacher to help me with pronunciation. Par main Hindi samajh leti hoon (But I can understand the language).”

What further brought this debutante under the scanner was her consent to host a lust line as a part of the marketing strategy. “It’s an extension of Chanda and I did it because it’s my job,” she justifies but adds that she could not have ever done it if the conversations were live. “Most people in India mistake the actors for the characters they play. It was a recording,which is why I agreed.”

Like Chanda,Koechlin makes no excuses for her relationship with the director and admits that two started dating after the shooting got over. “He’s very romantic but much more reserved. I tend to blabber and Anurag

thinks that it’s very naïve of me. Maybe it is,but I’d rather be honest—it pays off in the long run,” she says. “If I’m wrong,I guess I’ll learn with time.”

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