Kalki Koechlin Image Credit: IANS

Kalki Koechlin made her Bollywood debut with Anurag Kashyap’s Dev.D and went on to do some unconventional roles in That Girl in Yellow Boots, Margarita with a Straw and Waiting. But the Indian National Award-winning actress doesn’t mean to be “shocking and different”.

“When I cut my hair short recently, people were very shocked and I was like, ‘I didn’t think about it’. I wanted to change it, so I did that. I remember going on Google while in the parlour with my hairdresser to find out what should we do and how we should cut,” Koechlin said on the sidelines of the live edition of her podcast Kalki Presents: My Indian Life.

“Now it’s like people going ‘Oh my God, what has she done? Is she sick?’ Everybody has a different opinion. I am just saying that I don’t think I consciously try to be shocking or different. I express what I feel like expressing,” Koechlin added.

The actress visited St Stephen’s College in New Delhi to talk to students about her new podcast with the BBC World Service. It was released on August 4.

Kalki Presents: My Indian Life is about being young and Indian in the 21st century. Over 10 episodes, the podcast series explores extraordinary real-life stories from around the country. One episode is about a woman who talks to Koechlin about her part in India’s Mars mission, while another is the story of a man with a speech impediment trying to succeed as a musician.

The series will also feature stories about family conflicts, sexual abuse, harassment, caste discrimination, victim shaming, body insecurities and sex education. It is BBC’s first English language podcast aimed at young adult Indians.

“Podcast is a complete new world. It is an interesting platform to understand young population in the world as we have lot of young adults who are extremely smart and talented and have lot of opinions,” she said.

There were some of the shocking stories that made her cry.

“You realise these stories once in a while, but you don’t know how often that happens. That is really shocking. It just makes you face reality. You don’t understand what all they go through to reach where they are,” she said.

Koechlin, who received a Special Jury Award at the Indian National Film Awards for her performance as a young woman afflicted with cerebral palsy in Margarita, With A Straw, feels that to change society, everyone — not just Bollywood celebrities — need to speak up.

“I don’t know if it’s just Bollywood that has to bring about the change. I think every medium, in terms of whatever work we are in need to talk about issues more. When you talk about that, you can make stories about them and eventually film about them. Opening debate and discussion [is the solution] rather than immediate firing on each other on social media because that’s the problem. We always end up sticking to our opinion rather than listening to another person,” Koechlin said.

What else is keeping her busy nowadays other than her podcast?

“I just finished shooting for Gully Boy. I am also doing a web series, and this will be the first one that will come of mine titled Made In Heaven. It is set in Delhi. It has a great bunch of writers, and has some really strong writers and directors,” she said.