MOTHERS KNOW BEST
A doting mother in real life, Kalki Koechlin now plays an estranged daughter in her new film
The night before Kalki Koechlin was to begin filming for Pushan Kripalani’s film Goldfish, her then one-year-old daughter, Sappho, would not stop crying. The three-week shoot in London last July was the actor’s first film shoot after her maternity break. “So, it was already hard and it did not help that neither my husband (Isreali musician Guy Hershberg) nor Sappho’s nanny would travel with me. We found an English nanny but Sappho was not bonding with her,” she says. The actress finally broke down and spoke to Sappho like she would to an adult, saying: “I have not worked since before the lockdown and I really want to make this film; it’s precious to me. I promise I will be here every morning to wake you up, and in the nights to put you to sleep. But in between, I need you to cooperate.” Minutes later, Sappho was asleep and the next morning, she was bonding with her new nanny. “It was such a big motherhood moment for me. And also a lesson that it is okay to ask for help and to trust that your child will understand no matter how young they are.”
When starting to shoot Goldfish, a film about an estranged mother-daughter pair, Koechlin drew from her own life experiences, as also from the memories of those around her. The film revolves around Sadhana (played by Deepti Naval), who
Goldfish revolves around a mother who is losing her sense of self and a daughter who is rediscovering her Indian identity
is losing her sense of self because of dementia, and Koechlin as Anamika, who comes to rediscover her Indian identity while caring for her mother.
Having loved Kripalani’s directorial debut film The Threshold (2015), Koechlin knew she wanted to work with him, but it was Goldfish’s script, written by Kripalani and Arghya Lahiri, that made her sign on the dotted line. “It’s a very moving script. Arghya is someone I know well and his father had dementia and I think a lot of the story was inspired from the experiences of his family. It’s a very tangible and real story.” After premiering at the Busan Film Festival (October 5-15), Goldfish will travel to the Raindance Film Festival (October 26-Novemeber 5), which is a BAFTA- and Oscarqualifying festival.
Since filming Goldfish, Koechlin, 38, has also wrapped filming the second season of the hit show Made in Heaven and the film Kho Gaye Hum Kahan. She has recorded the third season of My Indian Life, a BBC podcast that explores compelling stories about young Indians. She even made her debut as an author last December with Elephant in the Womb, a raw and sometimes funny account of her pregnancy: “It was therapeutic at the time to keep a journal, to just keep a creative element going because through the lockdown and motherhood, I just didn’t know who I was anymore.” ■