Multifaceted Actor Kalki Koechlin Tells Us About Summer Memories And Life In Goa

Super talented, über-cool, and free spirited: that’s Kalki Koechlin in a nutshell. Join us as the actor offers us a peek into her life on and off the screen, summer memories, journey as a mom, and a whole lot more.


Bohemian Beginnings

I was born in Periyamudaliyar Chavadi, a small fishing village just outside of Puducherry. I was literally born at home by the beach! My parents, who are French, were followers of the Sri Aurobindo Movement and its patron guru, the French-born ‘Mother’, and they wanted to be close to the spiritual organisation’s base in Puducherry. So, I grew up in a very eclectic environment, playing with a lot of mixed-parentage kids from different parts of the world. Back then, it was all about alternate ways of life. I spoke only Tamil and French until the age of six. And then, I went to study at the Hebron School in Ooty, where I had a lot to catch up on when it came to English!

Summer Funk

Hebron was a boarding school, and I remember spending a lot of time outdoors during the summers and camping with friends in the Nilgiri Hills. The Mudumalai Tiger Reserve was another favourite spot of mine. Around that time, my father had started a business of making hand gliders so, we would often jump off cliffs and go hand gliding. Then, he moved to Bengaluru and built small microlight planes like Cessnas and, by the time I was 13 years old, I was flying them, as well! As a family, we also participated in a lot of flying rallies for these aircraft in north India. I can’t forget that awe-inspiring moment when I saw the Taj Mahal for the first time. Over all, it was quite an adventurous childhood and life!

The Acting Bug

The adventure continued when, at the age of 18, I went to a drama school in London, where I studied for three years. That was my struggling period because I was alone—far from home and family. I was broke most of the time, and worked two part-time jobs. At the end of my course, I returned to Bengaluru and volunteered for some time with Magic Lanterns, which was a theatre group there. Essentially, I was looking for a break into the cinamatic world, and spent my days giving auditions relentlessly for advertisements (with a backpack filled with standard outfits). That’s when I heard about the auditions for Anurag Kashyap’s Dev.D. My Hindi was weak, but I managed to crack the the role thanks to my tutor Karan Makhija, who really helped me master the language. In fact, he’s been my base for getting work in the Hindi film industry.

Mumbai Magic

My life has hardly ever involved staying in one place over a long period of time! I went from Puducherry to Ooty to Bengaluru to London to Mumbai—and now I live in Goa. I’ve been a vagabond, and as my parents were travellers, I have been used to this since childhood. They put that spirit of exploration in me and taught me that there’s always something new to learn: that you’re always in ‘school’ in life. Hence, moving to Mumbai and being part of showbiz was another joyride I was ready to get on.

On Stage

Theatre is a great training ground and a place I like going back to. I have written and directed a dark comedy called The Living Room; it was such a fun process. It’s a great actor’s medium in terms of feeling sharp and alert. Because you have your live audience and there are no retakes. Now, I’m travelling with a short monologue called I’m Okay, centred on the roller coaster that is motherhood! Despite its name, it’s all about not being okay—revolving around how much women are supposed to cope with today, while being homemakers and also career women. A lot of my inspiration comes from my life, as well as my peers. Just look at actors like Richa Chadha and Radhika Apte, who are also now producing their own work.

Moving Base and Staying on Track

Life has become easy-going since I shifted to Goa two years ago. My daughter, Sappho, goes to school there. So, we are surrounded by nature and gardens, and itʼs all very peaceful. I go surfi ng early in the mornings twice a week with the Octopus Surf School in Morjim, North Goa. I swim almost every day. When Iʼm in Mumbai for work, I go back to my yoga routine because I can do that indoors. Doing some amount of breathwork and exercise in the day is super important for me. It really helps me stay on track amid all my personal and professional to-do lists.

Style with the Seasons

Since weʼre bang in the middle of the hot season, Iʼve brought my linens out of the closet. I love small, indie-style markets. As for stores, I like O.M.O (for easy linens, light fabrics, and naturally dyed products) and Rangeela in Goa. I love shopping at the local markets in Puducherry, too. I tend to invest in a lot of swimming attire—I live in Goa, after all! Itʼs so important to have a good swimsuit and sturdy surf outfi t. The same goes for my yoga wear. In the athleisure space, I really like the brand Oysho.

Daughter Diaries

My little girl is already quite the traveller! Sheʼs all of four and Iʼm training her to get used to my motorbike; Iʼve also bought her a little helmet. She sits pillion with us as we explore Goaʼs neighbourhoods. Sheʼs very curious and pointing at things all the time. I actually started travelling with her when she was just an infant so, sheʼs used to being on a plane and it excites her now. Iʼd urge parents to not hesitate when travelling with their kids. Itʼs best to start early so your little ones will accept it as a part of their life sooner than later.

Eating, Travelling, and Living Well

Comfort food for me is a good South Indian meal! Iʼm big on noodle soups like thukpa, too. On some days, however, I crave a really big, cheesy burger. My favourite Mumbai street food has to be pav bhaji. When it comes to travel, I still need to visit a lot of destinations in Indiaʼs eastern belt. I would love to go to Sikkim and Darjeeling (as well as the rest of West Bengal). I also adore Kashmir; I used to go skiing every year in Gulmarg. The food there is fantastic! I remember I would indulge in their meaty breakfasts after swooshing down the snowy slopes. My husband and I love going diving together and one of our favourite spots is the Blue Hole in the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. Itʼs super scary but still so sensational. And only to be experienced with a trained guide! Being there, with my partner in crime for life, was just all kinds of magical. I want to go back soon!


Morning person or night owl?

Reluctantly a morning person as my daughter wakes me up at 7 AM!

Minimalism or maximalism?

I guess maximalism because I like collecting interesting artefacts.

A song stuck in your head.

The soundtrack of the movie The Sound of Music.

Are you an adventure junkie or relaxed traveller?

Adventure junkie.

Three words to describe Kalki.

Changing, resilient, and alive!

Your favourite book.

I recently read Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow and really liked it.

Your favourite colour.

Right now it’s aquamarine… kind of like a shade of turquoise.

Summer to you is…

Mango lassi!

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