Happy Birthday Kalki: A look at her best performances in B’wood

Bollywood actress Kalki turned 35 on Thursday. The celebrated actress has not only been seen in some of the best films in the industry, but has a name in the theatre industry as well. She is also known for voicing her opinion about gender equality widely. With her unconventional body of work, the actress has been the recipient of coveted accolades such as a National Film Award, a Filmfare, and two Screen Awards. Kalki was also conferred with the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture for her contributions to cinema.

She started her career in Bollywood with Dev D portraying the character of Chanda in 2009. Thereafter, Kalki has mesmerised the audience with her exceptional personality and wide range of character portrayal with films like Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani, Shanghai, and Margarita with a Straw among many others. She earned the tag of a “nonconformist” with her choice of versatile films.

Let us take a look at some of her best performances in Bollywood:

Dev D

Kalki’s character Leni/Chanda is a modern adaptation of Chandramukhi, who was most recently played by Madhuri Dixit in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas based on a novel written by Sarat Chandra Chatterjee in the early 1900s. In the film, when Leni, a fan of Madhuri Dixit, takes up prostitution as profession, she adopts the name Chandramukhi or Chanda, in honor of the character.

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

Director Zoya Akhtar had wanted to work with Kalki Koechlin ever since seeing her in Dev D and That Girl in Yellow Boots. She thought Kalki would perfectly fit in as Natasha because she had “the sense of comedy, but not over the top”. Kalki’s Natasha was the perfect portrayal of a rich and possessive girlfriend swayed away by the idea of marriage to her long-time boyfriend.


Kalki portrayaed the character of a troubled girl, dealing with the turmoil of her mom’s death Amy in Anurag Kashyap’s Shaitan. The way she enacted the vulnerable, delusional and offbeat personality of Amy, it is next to impossible to think of any other actress who could have done that role better than the birthday girl.

Margarita With a Straw

Kalki starred in Shonali Bose’s drama Margarita with a Straw, playing Laila, a young woman with cerebral palsy who leaves India to study in New York City, falls in love, and embarks on a journey of self-discovery. In his review of the film for The Commercial Appeal, John Beifuss compared her performance to that of Eddie Redmayne’s act as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. He said that her performance would have attracted Academy Award notice in a major film studio production.

That Girl In Yellow Boots

Anurag Kashyap’s dark and twisted films have created a niche for film buffs. With That Girl In Yellow Boots, the director brought out his ex-wife Kalki’s wrathful side as Ruth. How the actress channels all her anger into giving a memorable performance as she set out on a quest to find her father is worth a brilliant watch.


Kalki starred in Anu Menon’s Waiting, a film about the relationship between two people who befriend each other in a hospital, while nursing their respective comatose spouses. The film and her performance received positive critical reviews. Sukanya Verma inher review in rediff.com called the film “absolutely riveting”, and lauded the “stunningly unhindered” Koechlin writing that she used her aura, “in the most mesmeric fashion to create a woman we sympathise with and wish well for”. According to film critic Kunal Guha Waiting belonged to Kalki as she “impresses by managing to wordlessly convey her character’s state of mind in every scene”.

Kalki was last seen in Ribbon (2017) a film which talks about unplanned pregnancy. She will soon be seen in Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt-starrer Gully Boy which is set to release on February 14.