By Shikha Talwar
Bollywood actor and theatre actress, Kalki Koechlin’s body of work is as diverse and eclectic as her sense of style and collection of designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s outfits. From dominating stage productions to commanding the independent silver screen and reciting heart-wrenching prose on Blush (a YouTube channel), Koechlin has waltzed her way into people’s hearts.
While her new skin, Faiza Naqvi, a rich South Delhi girl in Amazon Prime Video’s Made in Heaven is not who she identifies with in real life. Off-screen, Kalki is a free-spirited surfer chick and has lent her artistic and utilitarian sensibilities to Puducherry-based Hidesign for a new collection of bags. LuxeBook chatted with Kalki at the preview of the collection in Mumbai, aptly titled ‘She Loves Adventure’, and found out what she really loves about her life, the new collection and why she only associates with a limited number of brands.
An outdoor person
I enjoy surfing, scuba diving and trekking. ‘She Loves Adventure’ is dedicated to my outdoorsy spirit. With this collaboration, we’ve pushed the boundaries of the brand to create daring and bold designs. While the work bags have become more daring in terms of their design and colour choices, the bum bag and sling bag cater to an adventurous zeal.
The inspiration for this collaboration comes from my amateur surfing days. I was learning how to surf at the Kallialay Surf School in Puducherry. After the first couple of sessions, I realised that surfing looks a lot cooler when you’re riding the wave than it really is when you’re learning the sport. When you’re learning, you’re mostly just under the wave and less on top of it. So, when you finally get on top of that wave, you are beaming with this feeling of free-spiritedness.
A bag that’s reflective of my free spirited-ness is the bum bag. It’s an effortless accessory. The best part about it is that you don’t have to worry about holding it while you are waxing a surfboard.
I am very happy with this collaboration. It is my second collaboration with Dilip Kapur, and I think I have learnt something new each time we’ve associated. I also think that the brand is now less hesitant to work with me.
I consider only two factors before associating with a brand. 1. I have to like the brand. 2. I have to like what it stands for. Associating with Hidesign is special as the brand and I both hail from Puducherry. When I went to Hidesign’s factory for the first time, I was stunned. It is the most beautiful factory I have ever seen. It is a very lovely workspace with a little river running through it. They employ only local women, and some of these have been working with the brand for over nineteen years.
The work a celebrity does and the choices they make in real life are the value propositions they add to a brand’s lifecycle. In my case, I know people associate my work with certain things — they know I’m from Puducherry, they know my background; it highlights a certain level of similarity between me and the kind of brands that I support.
My aesthetic and personal choices are dominated by consistency. We live in an age where everything is supposed to be replaced every few months, and I think that Hidesign and I are the opposite of that. Hidesign makes bags that have a long shelf life.
My role in Made in Heaven as Faiza Naqvi is written very beautifully by the writers Zoya Akhtar, Reema Kagti and Alankrita Shrivastava. To be fair, Zoya also comes from a background similar to that of Faiza’s. She’s grown up in a world where she has always been a part of a famous lifestyle because of her dad (Javed Akhtar). Hence, she really understands the nuances of a character like that. When it comes to me, I think I have tried my level best to ascertain a level of vulnerability to Faiza’s character to make her seem relatable.
I am here for the long term and not the short term. I am not interested in making a lot of noise; I’m interested in doing meaty roles and things that will last a long time.
Nevertheless, If I weren’t an actor, I’d be a criminal psychologist. I like to understand why people do the things they do.
My personal style can be described as mercurial. It changes all the time, as it should. It is an actor’s job to be versatile.
I can’t live without my backpack and the simple tees, joggers and sneakers that aid to my outdoorsy lifestyle. But that’s just one side of the coin; I also completely embrace my celebrity persona. I love changing for the red carpet, and as you’ve recently seen, I love experimenting with my hair.
My go-to accessories are my backpack, a pair of sunglasses and an invisible wall around me.
The most stylish thing in wardrobe right now is a beautiful and timeless collection of Sabyasachi jackets.
The last thing that I bought and loved was a pair of sneakers from Fila. They’re really light and wonderful.
Growing up, I remember grooving to Gwen Stefani’s music videos. I loved how she could rock a bindi on her forehead during her No doubt days. I used to love the way she dressed and performed. When I was 15, I went through a Goth phase, and you would only see my lips smudged with black lipstick. My early twenties were heavily influenced by Annie Hall’s fashion sense.
The one indulgence I can’t forego is French fries dipped in mayonnaise.
My favourite cuisine is Japanese. I love dining at Mamagoto and Kofuko in Mumbai.
I am currently reading a book called The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science by Norman Doidge.
I love holidaying in New York and shopping from its vintage stores.
A day in my life is not at all as it appears to be on social media. Social media is a tool that I use to promote my work and to put out a point of view. But, to be honest, I don’t always have my phone on me, and I like that freedom; the freedom of not constantly being scrutinised by it. In fact, I love forgetting my phone at home on a busy day. This way, I can just pay attention to what I am doing.
The problems of the world inspire me. I find inspiration in mundane scenarios like watching people grow old, seeing them retire and suddenly discover that they still have all these things that they want to do. Reading books, watching movies, travelling and being in countries that are completely different inspire me. Food! Food inspires me a lot. I love people who can cook well.
Luxury to me is time – having and making time for yourself is a luxury.
The one thing I really want to do is start writing. I want to get into the creative process of what I do. I can see myself being a part of the team that creates and not just the team that performs.