Kalki Koechlin is an actor and writer who is known for her unconventional work in the Hindi film industry. She has earned accolades for her performance in films like Dev D (2009), Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) and Margarita with a Straw (2014). She has worked in various web series as well. Along with these, she is also an activist who works for various causes ranging from health and education to gender equality.
Kalki was born to French parents in Pondicherry, Idia. She was born on 10 January 1984. She spent her early childhood in Auroville, a township in Villupuram district which lies mostly in Tamil Nadu, India. Later her family shifted to Kallatty, a village near Ooty. Kalki grew up in a very strict environment in Ooty. She spoke English, Tamil and French while growing up.
Kalki’s ancestor is the French structural engineer, Maurice Koechlin who played an important role in the designing and construction of the Effiel Tower. Kalki was born to French who shifted to India from Angers, France. Her mother’s name is Francoise Armandie and her father is Joel Koechlin. Her parents are devotees of the Indian philosopher Sri Aurobindo. Her parents got divorced when she was fifteen years of age. Kalki lived with her mother while her father shifted to Bangalore and remarried. She has two half-brothers, one from her mother’s previous marriage and one from her father’s subsequent marriage.
Kalki did her schooling from a boarding school in Ooty named Hebron School. It was here that she got involved in acting and writing. Initially, she had aspired to study psychiatry and become a criminal lawyer. But after she completed schooling she shifted to London to study drama and theatre at Goldsmiths, University of London. In London, she worked for 2 years with Theatre of Relativity, a theatre company. She wrote The Rise of The Wild Hunt during that time and performed in plays such as David Hare’s play The Blue Room and Marivaux’s prose comedy The Dispute. Side by side she also worked as a waitress on weekends.
After completing her studies she moved back to Bangalore, India. Soon after she moved to Mumbai in search of some work. Here she worked with theatre directors Atul Kumar and Ajay Krishnan who are the founders of The Company Theatre which us Mumbai-based theatre company.
She also auditioned for director Anurag Kashyap’s film Dev D (2009). The film is a modern-day adaption of the 1917 Bengali novel Devdas written by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. In the film, Kalki plays Leni, a young woman who becomes a prostitute after a leaked sex tape scandal. The character is based on Chandramukhi from the novel. The film was received well and was a box office success. Kalki even won a Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance.
Kalki tasted commercial success with the film Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011). The film was a blockbuster hit and earned Rs 1.53 billion worldwide making it the ninth highest-grossing Hindi film of all time. Her performance was well-received by the critics. She again received a Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the film.
Kalki got into screenwriting with the thriller film That Girl In Yellow Boot (2011) by Anurag Kashyap. In the film, she played Ruth, a British woman in search of her biological father. This was screened at the 2010 Toronto Internation Film Festival and 67th Venice Film Festival. The film received critical appreciation.
Kalki went on to win the Jury Award at the 63rd National Film Award for her performance in Shonali Bose’s drama Margarita with a Straw (2014). In the film she plays the role of a young woman, Laila who suffers from cerebral palsy who leaves India to study in New York, falls in love and then embarks on a journey of self-discovery. The character she plays is inspired by Bose’s cousin Malini Chib. The filmed garnered positive reviews from all over the world. Kalki also gained widespread attention and critical acclaim for the portrayal of a disabled person.
The estimated net worth of Kalki Koechlin is around $6 million. Her earnings stem from not just her profession as an actor but also as a scriptwriter and being a theatre artist. She lives in a posh bungalow in Mumbai and also has brand endorsements in her kitty.