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Theatre is like going to the gym for building muscle: Kalki Koechlin

Wednesday, 4 December 2013 - 7:06am IST Updated: Wednesday, 4 December 2013 - 10:42am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Actor Kalki Koechlin returns to what she calls her first love, theatre, with the play Colour Blind at the National Centre for the Performing Arts' annual theatre festival Centrestage. dna's Yogesh Pawar catches up with her for a tete-a-tete.

Why theatre all of a sudden?
Its not sudden. Long before films happened, I’ve pursued drama at the London University and was dabbling in theatre along with modelling. So, for me, it’s coming back to what I actually enjoy a lot.

What is Colour Blind about?
The larger-than-life image that Tagore evokes is like an impenetrable sculpture of poise, calm, beauty, intellect and romance. Colour Blind attempts to rediscover him through his life events, relationships and writings. The play finds in Tagore a lonely child, a vulnerable poet, a misunderstood patriot and an aging lover. He emerges in flesh and blood.

Susan Sarandon recently said the difference between working in film and working in theatre is kind of like the difference between masturbation and making love. Would you agree?
(Laughs) Well, that’s her take on it. But for me, theatre is like going to the gym to build muscle.

Theatre is great to keep my craft as an actor alive.

But which do you find more challenging?
I feel both have their challenges, but in theatre, there can be no retakes. Merely knowing your lines isn’t enough. Projection, throwing one’s voice, being conscious of the space available — these are things the actor has to be very aware of all the time.

So was it tough on the sets of Dev D, your first film?
Yes. With close-ups, there is no need to over-emphasise. Anurag (Kashyap, who the actor refuses to answer questions about since rumours of their alleged separation) would keep telling me, “Kuch mat karo (Don't do anything). Only say your lines.” It took me a while getting used to that.

And did it take time to get back to the grammar of theatre again?
No, it didn’t. But for the first time, I’m very conscious of what I’m doing, for example a scene in which I’m supposed to start singing. Having been trained to sing early on, ideally, earlier, I’d just go for it. Now I’m very aware of every quiver in my voice. That can be quite nerve-wracking.

Don’t actors who are big names in Bollywood have an edge in terms of getting audiences in?
That may be the case, but they also have to face the pressure of sky-high expectations because of their on-screen persona. Bollywood heroines are often judged mainly on looks and their naach-gaana routines. I often wonder even in middle of a dead serious line whether the audiences expect me to break into dance.

Where: NCPA Experimental Theatre
When: December 5
Timing: 7pm onwards

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