Mummy’s Dead, Long Live Mummy!

photo credit: Abhishek Khedekar

Mummy’s Dead, Long Live Mummy! Koel Purie

Born storyteller, passionate about acting, and most comfortable on her couch, Koel Purie Rinchet says she’s always been a storyteller and her home is a film set—for someone who has known her all my life, I couldn’t agree more.

For Koel, the year began with a big applause she received for her play. She wrote and directed a story taken from her reality — one that is dark yet humorous. Real yet exaggerated, but above all one that will resonate with many women, especially mothers. And the year ends with Zoya Akhtar’s Archies, where she will be seen playing Mrs. Cooper, a role that she fell in love with from the word go. In between these two exceptionally exciting acts, lies her debut novel.

On an extremely interesting morning, I caught up with her to know more about writing, plays, and everything in between.

So a lot what happening this year? Let's start from what happened in the beginning, which is the play. How did the play happen? 
The play was really supposed to be a nonfiction book about motherhood. As I say, almost every mother feels that she needs to write something about, or blog, or do something with her motherhood journey. I also wanted to do that. It's been toying in my head for God knows how long. Because really when you become a mother, you think, you found the answer because no one else gave you the correct answer. So therefore, you are the only one who knows what the truth is. For years, it's been playing in my head.

In September, after the school holidays, when I went back to work and I was like "come on, just sit down and write your book!" I started writing what was supposed to be a self-help book but it was turning into speeches. It was turning into these monologues. It was turning into this first person who was not always me. There were other mothers who were suddenly talking. So, I think let's see what's happening. It was all a bit of a jumble. Then, it was very clear that there had to be four mothers.

There are four very different characters but they are united by the journey of motherhood, which was very raw and relentless. Even when mothers are trying to be real on Instagram and telling you the raw truth about breastfeeding or the craziness of tidying up or the how much wine they need to drink just to get by. I still feel it's very choreographed. Maybe one or two people are really getting it right. Kim Kardashian recently reiterated all the big Gurus, who say the days are long and the years are short when it comes to parenting. But the days really are long and they're the same and relentless. 
You also have four characters in this but I've little read about it cause I haven't seen it. There's a lot of humor in it.
Oh, it's very funny but it's not light at all. It's very dark and heavy. One of the mothers actually discovers how her kid has ADHD and her reaction is not pleasant but it's very dark humor. The mothers are not friends. They are judgmental and mean. They are united together by motherhood. It's the mothers who stand up for each other. It's really is a sisterhood but it's not a comfortable sisterhood. It also deals with physical assault. So, it touches upon a lot of very serious issues.
You said writing is cathartic, you like writing, but as an art form, what does writing do to you that no other art forms does?
Writing is fully in my control. So as an actor, and especially as an actor who's not your number one Bollywood star, you are always looking for the next job. You are always looking for what's happening, what's not. As a producer and director, you are always looking for the money, who's going to finance my project? How is it going to work? However writing is totally, a hundred percent in your control. Now, what happens to the writing? That's a whole other ballgame. But the finishing of a play, or a book, or an article, or a magazine, whatever, is a hundred percent in your control, so the freedom and the power is exhilarating.

Mummy's Dead! Long Live Mummy! is all set to be performed at Alliance Francaise de Delhi on September 28 & 29, on October 1 in Bengaluru and on October 2 & 4 in Mumbai. 

Words Shruti Kapur Malhotra
Date August, 2023