Actress Kalki Koechlin, born in India but of French descent,
first burst onto the scene in 2009's critically acclaimed film,
Dev.D. Since then, her career has only gone from strength
to strength, and today she's regarded by many as one of Bollywood's
most talented performers.
Top Bollywood actress Kalki Koechlin
shares her travel experiences and secret escapes in India © Ishaan
Beyond Bollywood, Koechlin is additionally celebrated for her
stage performances, though the multi-talented star also moonlights
as an accomplished playwright and screenwriter. We connected with
actress Kalki Koechlin to learn more about her life, her work…and
her insider tips for Mumbai, the city she now calls home.
Greaves: Which medium excites you most - film or
theatre? Can you give first-time visitors to Mumbai an idea of the
city's cultural hotspots?
Kalki Koechlin: 'I love both mediums. Film is more about
internalising the character and making it your own. In theatre,
spontaneous reactions are important, but rehearsals are essential.
In Mumbai, the Prithvi Theatre and the National Centre for
the Performing Arts have always got good things
on. Outside of Mumbai, I also love performing in Lucknow and
Bangalore. I find the audiences there are very clued in and
The tranquil scenery of Ooty ©
When you write, do you have a place that you escape
to the hustle and bustle of Mumbai?
'I like going back to my mum's place on the ghats of Mudumalai
near Ooty, which is cut off and secluded. Karuna Farms
in Kodai is another wonderful retreat. But Mumbai is a
very inspiring place. The people are what make the city. It may be
polluted, expensive and cramped, but the people of Mumbai are all
original, all wanting to do something creative and work hard at
Where are some of your favourite places for a meal
'I'm not much of a cook, but I love baking and make a great
apple pie! In Mumbai, I like The Calcutta Club, a small joint in
Lokhandwala, and I like Bombay Canteen for something more
Kalki Koechlin has made her name in
Bollywood and on the stage © Ishaan Nair
Having shot for many films in a wide range of
places, is there a location that has stood out for
'I loved shooting in New York. The city has so much to offer
culturally, geographically and culinarily! In India, I really
enjoyed filming in Manali in Himachal Pradesh. We used to eat with
local villagers in their huts and they would take us trekking to
beautiful, untouched areas.'
What kind of traveller are you? Are there any places
in India that you would love to know more
'I want to explore the northeast. I've seen stunning
photographs of the Seven Sisters of India [isolated states in
the northeast including Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur,
Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura] and really want to visit
What does India offer that no other place can match?
'Diversity… we are so rich in different customs, food, clothes
The gorgeous, wintry slopes of
Gulmarg © Peter/Flickr
What is your favourite holiday destination in
'I love Kashmir. I go skiing in Gulmarg in the winters
and it has stunning terrain, great snow, the best food (if you eat
mutton!) and the people are incredibly hospitable, despite all the
troubles that the state faces.'
In literature, which book captures the essence of India the
'There are many different kinds of India - Aravind Adiga's
White Tiger, Suketu Mehta's Maximum City, R.K.
Narayan's Malgudi Days, Rana Dasgupta's Capital,
Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies...it all
depends which side you want to see!'
Koechlin hails from Pondicherry ©
Beyond Mumbai, you spent your childhood in
Pondicherry and Ooty. What are your fondest memories of both
'Pondy for me is eating at the Sri Aurobindo ashram's dining
room, walking on the promenade and cycling everywhere. Ooty
has some beautiful treks. In Mudumalai, you can stop over at Jungle Hut
for a swim and lunch. Emerald Lake in the Nilgiri Mountains is also
lovely for picnics.'