Script is least valued in Indian cinema, says Kalki Koechlin

Kalki speaks about the rising potential of web-based content, being a part of both parallel and commerical cinema, being an audience and more.

These days, we have some of the biggest directors and actors from the film industry becoming an imperative part of web series, videos and movies produced exclusively for the online platform. And sassy and cool actress Kalki Koechlin is not behind as well. After being part of the short film titled Naked and thought-provoking video It’s Your Fault, Kalki is gearing up for her first web series called Smoke.

Web — the future
Explaining about the latest trend the actress says that there is a lot of freedom of content on the web. “Certain work which cannot be produced — due to financial restrictions when it comes to the 70 mm or for television due to the carefulness required on content screening — can be easily produced for the web (platform). Another important advantage here lies in the fact that it reaches out to the youth of our country. Today, people are mostly stuck in traffic jams, looking for something new and fun on their smartphones. So, whether you like it or not, it’s (online/web) actually what is catching people’s attention.” Kalki also feels that the “out-of-box” content on the web is what’s helping in a conceptual push in the cinematic content. “The kind of content we see on YouTube is very rare. You see an old woman falling in love with a young man, general stories of people living in metropolitan cities, stories based on the LGBT community and so on. These kind of contents are pushing our cinema conceptually,” she says, adding, “However, in terms of quality of the work, the online world is very low-budget. If it starts making money then it has the potential to soar to great heights, perhaps, even reach levels of Netflix and Amazon Prime. But right now, we are just doing content that is dictated by a set budget. I would love to see a web series on the Ramayana but that would mean investing a huge sum.”

Stars going digital
On the increasing presence of B-towners in the digital space — from actor Irrfan Khan in All India Backchod’s (AIB) latest video to Shamita Shetty making a comeback and several others getting featured in videos of so-called “stars of YouTube”, Kalki quips, “I did It’s Your Fault for AIB because I thought it was a really good concept.”

She adds, “I thought that it was clever, funny and addressed a serious issue without being preachy. In the world of cinema, we have great talents and technicians but what we value the least is the script. I think that many people on YouTube are becoming increasingly popular because they have great stories to share. We need many more of them to make money because once they start making money, they have the power to change content.”

Balancing act
The Margarita with a Straw actress readily agrees that her image in the industry often gets mixed up between mainstream and parallel cinema. However, she believes that she is “lucky” to be able to maintain a balance between the two. “I have done more parallel cinema than commercial flicks because I get fewer offers from the latter category of films. But I like doing commercial cinema… I like doing something which is not within my comfort zone because then you build an audience which entirely different from that of independent cinema. It’s important to reach out to that audience. When I go to small towns with my theatre, documentaries and work on feminism, people are interested in watching (that stuff) only because they have watched me playing Aditi in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani,” she smiles.

Being audience
All in all, Kalki — who has set groundbreaking records with her performances in films like Dev.D and Shaitaan — says that she has enjoyed her journey in Bollywood. “I really enjoy being a part of Bollywood. People think that I’m very intellectual because of my theatre work and views on feminism. But one of my favourite films happens to be Pretty Woman… and films like Jab We Met and Socha Na Tha make me gush,” she laughs. “It’s just that I want to work on content which is thought-provoking and helps in changing the mindset of people. However, as an audience member, I don’t want to watch only intense documentaries. And being in Bollywood allows my other work to take place because the money from commercial cinema helps (me) produce independent cinema and small videos,” she signs off.

In Smoke, which is directed by Ayush Raina, Kalki will be seen donning the hat of a Goan DJ. “I play a character which is involved in the ugly mafia world with a Russian don. She wants to escape the world but is so dependent on it that it gets difficult to get out. The series is about the struggle of these mafias, Goan youth, politics and corruption,” says Kalki, informing that Smoke will be launched in July.

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