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Kalki Koechlin: There is not enough support in the industry

Updated on: 26 August,2023 07:13 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Mohar Basu |

Grateful to have found supportive unit as she filmed Goldfish after her maternity break, Kalki rues that the industry often doesn’t consider working mothers’ needs

Kalki Koechlin: There is not enough support in the industry


Imagine walking out of the second season of Made in Heaven, where every character has dubious motives, and going to the set of Goldfish, a mother-daughter story. Kalki Koechlin says Pushan Kripalani’s directorial venture—which revolves around her character growing close to her mother, who grapples with dementia— shows how grief and laughs can co-exist. It helped that Deepti Naval played her on-screen mother, bringing her own experiences to the story. “Deepti’s mother had dementia. She told me little things, like how her mom would make chai with a lot of sugar and have it. Then she would ask for chai again 10 minutes later because she had forgotten that she has already had it. If Deepti said no to the next cup, she’d be upset. Such stories helped me build a person who has lost her identity and is even more frightened due to it,” says Koechlin, adding, “Deepti is someone I deeply admire.”

Naval plays the actor’s motherNaval plays the actor’s mother

Koechlin, who welcomed daughter Sappho in 2020, admits motherhood has given her a new perspective to roles. But returning to work after her maternity break wasn’t easy. The actor says that she took Sappho to the London shoot. “The night before the shoot, she was holding on to me tight and refusing to sleep. So, I sat her down like an adult and said, ‘Sappho, I want to do this film. It is important to me. I will be here for you every morning and night.’ She went to sleep immediately, and the next morning she asked for her nanny. Sometimes, when you [share] your vulnerability, children feel involved.”

Even as she is grateful to the film’s unit for building a supportive environment for her, the actor rues that the Hindi film industry hardly considers the needs of working mothers. “There is not enough support in the industry. One is left at the mercy of kind people on set. In terms of laws, there is a long way to go. I have had experiences when the baby was with me on the set, but people were wanting to do [outfit] trials past 10-11 pm. You want to keep working, but you also have the role of being a mother. I lucked out on Goldfish, where the producers arranged for a nanny in the UK. The director cut down on night shoots so that I could be home at 6 am to feed her.”

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