Kalki Koechlin

Kalki Koechlin
Koechlin smiling at the camera
Koechlin at the IIFA Awards, 2017
Born(1984-01-10) 10 January 1984 (age 34)
Pondicherry, Puducherry, India
Alma materUniversity of London
OccupationActress, writer
Years active2008–present
Spouse(s)Anurag Kashyap (m. 2011; div. 2015)
RelativesSee Koechlin family

Kalki Koechlin (æ̃/ (About this sound listen); born 10 January 1984) is a French actress and writer, who lives and works primarily in India. Known for her unconventional body of work in the Hindi film industry, she is the recipient of such accolades as a National Film Award, a Filmfare and two Screen Awards. Apart from acting in films, Koechlin is also a regular presence in theatre productions in India.

Born in Pondicherry, India, to French parents, Koechlin was drawn to theatre from a young age. She studied drama at Goldsmiths, University of London, and worked simultaneously with a local theatre company. After returning to India, she made her screen debut with a supporting role in the drama Dev.D in 2009–and won a Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress. Subsequently, she starred in two of the highest-grossing films of their respective release years–the comedy dramas Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013), both of which garnered her Best Supporting Actress nominations at the Filmfare Awards. Koechlin then co-wrote the screenplay for the crime thriller That Girl in Yellow Boots (2011), in which she also played the lead role.

Koechlin's continued association with such commercial films as the political drama Shanghai (2012) and the supernatural thriller Ek Thi Daayan (2013) sustained her success, as she continued to draw praise for her performances in independent films, including the comedy drama Waiting (2015) and the thriller A Death in the Gunj (2016). She won a National Film Award – Special Jury Award for her performance as a young woman with cerebral palsy in the coming of age drama Margarita with a Straw (2014). Koechlin also uses YouTube as a platform or forum for issues for which she advocates, appearing in videos including AIB's It's Your Fault, Culture Machine's Printing Machine and Noise and Y-Films's web-series entitled Man's World.

In addition to her film career, Koechlin has written, produced, and acted in several stage plays in India. She co-wrote the dramas Skeleton Woman (2009), which won her The MetroPlus Playwright Award, and Colour Blind (2014), and made her directorial debut on stage with the tragicomedy Living Room (2015). She hosted a travel show entitled Kalki's Great Escape, which premiered on Fox Life in September 2016. Koechlin is also an activist and promotes various causes ranging from health and education to women's empowerment and gender equality. She was married to filmmaker Anurag Kashyap from 2011 to 2015.

Early life and background

Kalki Koechlin was born in Pondicherry, India, on 10 January 1984 to French parents, Joel Koechlin and Françoise Armandie, who came to India from Angers, France.[1][2] She is a descendant of Maurice Koechlin, a French structural engineer who played an important role in the design and construction of the Eiffel Tower.[3] Koechlin's parents are devotees of Sri Aurobindo, and she spent a significant amount of her early childhood in Auroville.[2][4] The family later settled in Kallatty, a village near Ooty in Tamil Nadu, where Koechlin's father established a business designing hang-gliders and ultralight aircraft.[3][5]

Koechlin with her mother Françoise Armandie in 2016

Koechlin was brought up in a strict environment in Ooty where she spoke English, Tamil, and French.[6][7] Her parents divorced when she was fifteen; her father moved to Bangalore and remarried, while Koechlin continued living with her mother.[6] She has described the time that she spent at Kalatty between the ages of 5 and 8, before her parents' divorce, as her "happiest".[8] Koechlin has a half-brother from her mother's previous marriage, and a half-brother from her father's subsequent marriage.[6]

Koechlin studied at Hebron School, a boarding school in Ooty, where she was involved in acting and writing. She has admitted to being shy and quiet as a child.[9] Koechlin aspired to study psychiatry and become a criminal psychologist.[10] After completing her schooling at the age of 18, she moved to London and studied drama and theatre at Goldsmiths, University of London. There, she worked for two years with the theatre company Theatre of Relativity, writing The Rise of the Wild Hunt and performing in plays such as David Hare's The Blue Room and Marivaux's The Dispute.[6][11] She worked as a waitress on weekends.[5]

After completing her studies, Koechlin moved back to India and lived with her maternal half-brother in Bangalore. Unable to find work there, she moved to Mumbai, where she worked with theatre directors and with Atul Kumar and Ajay Krishnan, the founders of a Mumbai-based theatre company called "The Company Theatre". They were looking for actors for a theatrical festival, Contacting the World, to be held in Liverpool.[2][12]

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