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Diary of Kalki Koechlin From The Sets Of Movie ‘Margarita With a Straw’

  • JWB Post
  •  April 20, 2015

Over the weekend, Team JWB watched the movie ‘Margarita With A Straw‘ and trust us, it is a beautiful film. The movie shows the journey of a young girl Laila with cerebral Palsy who goes on to explore her sexuality.

This dairy was written by Kalki, on the sets of the movie. She names it: ‘I Kissed My Bro & Other Things That Happened On The Set’. Read:

Day 1. Delhi. Laila’s House. Int.

I got to set one hour early. Couldn’t wait to start. Sat in my wheelchair, got into the character that I had spent the last 6 months working towards. Got into makeup, everyone spoke to me slowly like I might not understand, I struggled into costume, with the help of two girls. one holding me up, the other shuffling my trousers on. They’re probably thinking ‘We so did not sign up for this job’. I eat breakfast, rather messily, all in the skin of the character. New crew members looked on with curiosity, with fear, and those who don’t recognize me, with pity. ‘The poor girl in the wheelchair.’ ‘What’s wrong with her?’ It was great, it was exactly what I wanted. I was going to remain as Laila for every moment of the day for the next two months.

Just then Nilesh, co director, co writer, co operator of all things on set, comes up to me and says. ‘Need you to get off the wheelchair’

‘Wha..?’

‘Get off. We have to carry it upstairs, there’s no lift’

‘No. I’m in character.’

‘Don’t be silly, it’s a huge flight of stairs, we don’t have time for this.’

And with that, my whole act falls away as I gingerly get off, and a few people on set look at my standing up as a miracle.

Damn.

So much for method. How come we never hear of Daniel Day Lewis having problems like this?

‘Hey Danny, love the act, but we got no budget here, we’re strained for time and money, so just get up for a sec, we won’t tell anyone, promise.’

Day 7. Delhi. Laila’s College. Ext.

These clothes. When I get back to Bombay I’m going to ask Neharika Bhasin where the hell she got these clothes. They must have been donated by the welfare for sisters who plan on never getting laid ever. I get it, Laila can’t have cool clothes, but why is practical clothing synonymous with look-how-badly-I-can-dress?

Day 20. Delhi. Laila’s House. Int.

Shonali (my director) comes up two inches away from my face and stares at me.

‘What?’ I ask

‘You’re wearing mascara.’

‘I’m not.’

‘You are’

‘I’m not’

‘Did you go out last night?’

‘Yes’

‘With mascara?’

‘Yes, but-‘

‘Go wash your face right now.

No mercy from this mother of dragons.

Day 21. Delhi. Laila’s College. Int.

I had to kiss Hussain Dalal today. Hussain Da Lal. Husainy Insaney. Mera dost, mera bhai, mera yo, mera Gansta bro.

I got laughing fits. That’s what happens when I’m really, really nervous. I get uncontrollable laughing fits.

Shonali got impatient. Crew got impatient. Hussain got impatient.

I managed it finally. Somehow. Suspended my breath, or my dignity or whatever.

But basically I kissed my bro…Wrong. Just so wrong.

Day 35. New york. Montage. Ext.

Its 40 degrees. I’m wearing perhaps the ugliest coat in the world, chequered on the outside, furry on the inside. With a turtle neck underneath, gloves and a woolen hat that is so multi coloured, it makes middle class look monochrome.

New yorkers like to laugh at me and Revathy’s get up, while they pass by in their hot pants and sleeveless tanks.

Crew using a snow machine which spurts out teeny poop-like lumps of white stuff and they are also carefully sprinkling out, er… cotton wool.

Seriously?

COTTON WOOL??!

This film is going to look like my school Christmas play.

Day 67. New York. DAY OFF!

Three exhausted actors have decided to rebel. Sayani is very, very hungover, I’m having a day off from my wheelchair and Revathy is wearing shorts.

New York is cool. Well, no, it’s bloody hot today, but people are so cool, everyone looks like out of a Hollywood movie.

We spot Cameron Diaz. Like yeah, just walking. And no body bothers her. Oh wait. Some guy stops her. He’s Desi.

We go to an Ethiopian restaurant in Greenwich Village.

Order something that looks like a cross between a neer dosa and a pancake. It comes with curry on the side with some meat, could be mutton. Could be beef (can’t get arrested for writing the word yet can we?).

Revathy is a vegetarian, we tell the waitress.

She offers fish curry.

‘No, no fish, she eats vegetables.’

Waitress points out the vegetables in the fish curry.

If I could draw, this would be that signatory Vigil Idiot cartoon strip with three silent faces.

Sayani tucks in like an orphan deprived of food.

I nibble apologetically at first, then greedily, because it is truly yum.

Revathy politely starves.

Last day of shoot! New York. Like everywhere and everything we can squeeze in one day basically. Int and ext.

Coney island shots. Druggies, hippies and children all around us.

Ferris wheel shots. Fun.

Beach shots. Sand in my pants. Not so fun.

Subway shots. Illegal.

Bus shots. No permission.

Park shots. No bathroom.

Road shots. No battery in my wheelchair.

And finally, to wrap up…

Margarita shots. Lots of margarita shots.

This article first appeared in Huffingtonpost.

PS – Have you read another article by Kalki Koechlin on disability and sexuality? Read here.

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