Interview/ Kalki Koechlin, actor
What was interesting about Batya, your character in Sacred Games 2?
I cannot reveal too much. But she is a very conflicted and lonely person in many ways. She comes from a broken family in France; her mother is Palestinian and father, Jewish. She runs away from home and finds herself in an ashram run by a guruji (Pankaj Tripathi). Her background drives her need for a religion and belief system, because she has got no home and no base. That is key to her character’s development.
Could you identify with Batya since you, too, grew up in an ashram (Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Puducherry)?
Yeah (laughs). I really hope that I am not Batya in real [life]. I am not, but there are definitely things you draw from. I have grown up with these guru types who like to tell you how to live your life. That was a normal part of my life.
What was it like playing Batya, who comes from a conflicted background?
It is not [detailed] in the story, except in one dialogue. I cannot be constantly conflicted. But there is a sort of graph—she goes from a 20-year-old Batya who first met guruji to a 37-year-old who is calm and at peace, and starts advising Sartaj (Saif Ali Khan). That change was very important—from a chaotic person to someone who has really imbibed the whole philosophy.
Anurag Kashyap is directing you for the first time after That Girl in Yellow Boots (2010). How was it different this time?
I think he is a lot calmer. But there are many things that have not changed and I think that is great. When someone gets that successful it is easy for them to become creatively stagnant in some way, which has not happened with him. He is still extremely spontaneous. But I would say that he has become calmer and more observant.
Do you wish these changes had come earlier?
I am not going to go there (laughs). But yeah, I think he is in a good place in life and has made peace with himself. That was important. I do not think he needs to change. I think he needs to make peace with who he is, which he is doing.
How would you say you have changed over the years in this industry?
I am changing and learning every day. I have definitely grown more patient. Even when I was working, I would be like, “I am not getting [to do] what I really want to do.” There was always some sort of dissatisfaction. Now, I try to be in the here and now and do the best with what I am given. Obviously, the success [I have achieved] has made me more confident. I feel I can try and experiment more.