There she was, her graciously erect posture and airy white maxi dress intimidating... and yet, welcoming at the same time. Kalki Koechlin, the actress, theatre artist and writer found a beautiful nook in Pondicherry's Le Dupleix heritage hotel as we sat down to get candid. Kalki is known for speaking up about issues that are often overlooked and so I decided to ask her a few questions about things that matter the most to her.
There are lots of things we need to work on. For long-term, it is the mentality change which needs to start at a very early age. Children need to be educated about gender equality since what we teach our children will form the foundation of our future. The problem is how we’ve been focussing on educating the girl child, but not been educating the boy child in the last 20 years. So now the girl child has come out and she’s working and the man is not prepared for this. Because he had a mother who was at home and did everything he wanted. A change needs to take place in the next generation, where both the genders realize that anyone of them can be a football player and anyone can wear pink.
On a more urgent note, I think we need to make the process of law quicker on gender violence. The process of justice is still very slow in the court and I think it needs to become a prioritized process. Another aspect is the number of stories that are coming out in the media, and I totally encourage calling out people. But it is really important that when false stories surface, as women we point those out in case of a false accusation. Because if women start misusing this power, it’s only going to hinder our success in this movement.
I think that on a daily basis you are fighting small problems like the way a Bollywood director thinks a woman should look, that she should have a certain type of body. I have been told that I should get botox done on my laughter lines and I thought to myself that ‘oh god, maybe I should stop laughing altogether’, and be very serious instead. All these things affect your psyche, especially when you’re young and haven’t yet established yourself.
This is definitely a cause worth fighting for. But I can't accuse someone of something unless they have broken a law or actually been violent. Otherwise, there is a fine line, people can flirt with you and you can’t cut that out of life. Everyone will be scared to talk to each other and nobody will touch one another and it will become a weird world where everyone is afraid.
So that’s not the answer either but I think that a platform to talk about these things is so important. And we should include men in this conversation, it is not a gender battle, it isn’t men against women. It is important for men to take an interest in these things and question, why is this happening? I didn’t know this was happening to my daughter or to my colleague. Can we not make sexist jokes?
Women are always being told what to do so I just don’t want to tell them that. Do what you want to do, along with the required introspection. Don’t feel that everyone else's opinion matters more. And for that, you need silence because there is so much noise. Everybody has an opinion on everything, and you really need a bubble of silence to come up with a list of things you want.