film
A Story Worth Telling

Kalki Koechlin talks to Harneet Bhullar about her most testing role yet in Margarita, With A Straw 

Posted: 27.10.14

How does it feel to be starring in one of the Indian films selected to showcase at this years BFI London Film Festival?
I am very happy to be here and to be surrounded by my friends who are watching my movie with me. I am really excited to screen the film; we had a good response in Toronto so I’m looking forward to see the reaction in London.

The film focuses on sexuality and disability, topics not usually covered in Indian cinema…
It is rare which is why I did it. No one talks about these issues. There is an image that disabled people don’t drink and don’t have fun. But this movie breaks all those type of things and it allows you to see the person behind the disability. I think we have an audience in India that does now want to see all kinds of films; and because Indians also watch other world cinema, I think people are ready for this type of movie in India now.

What kind of preparation did your role require?
I did a lot of preparation for this role as there was a lot of pressure to get it right. I spent six months preparing. I got introduced to my Director’s cousin who has cerebal palsy; I followed her and lived with her and I even got drunk with her. I worked with her physio and speech therapist and learnt how her breathing - I practiced staying in a wheelchair and not allowing myself to get out. It’s been scary on many levels. I hope my fans like it because it is a very different for me.

What made you say yes to the movie?
I had to think about it as I had to first figure out if I had the time to prepare. I loved the fact that its original and never been done before. Its not disability as a label; it beyond that. You don’t think about the disability when you watch the movie instead you become immersed in the world of the character.

Is it a true story?
No it is inspired by the director (Shonali’s) cousin. It is Shonali’s personal story as it connects to her own life in some ways but not all.

What does the title of the movie mean?
The character I play likes to drink but she has to sip from a straw. So in the movie she has a child’s cup with a lid and a straw that’s filled with alcohol.

Margarita, With A Straw is scheduled for release in India in February, a UK release date has not yet been confirmed.
 

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