Kani Kusrutiis an Indian actress and model who primarily works in Malayalam films. She made headlines for playing the role of Zeba in the Malayalam film Kerala Cafe (2009).
Kani Kusruti was born on Thursday, 12 September 1985 (age 37 years; as of 2022) in Cheruvakkal, a small village in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India. Her zodiac sign is Virgo. While growing up in Kerala, Kani enrolled herself at Abhinaya Theatre Research Centre. In 2005, she moved to Thrissur and attended the Thrissur School of Drama & Fine Arts to complete the theatre arts program. In 2008, Kani studied physical theatre for two years at L’École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris, France.
Height (approx.): 5′ 6″
Weight (approx.): 65 kg
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Body Measurements (approx.): 33-26-33
Parents & Siblings
Kani’s father’s name is Maitreya Maitreyan, a human rights activist, who has conducted several human rights movements in Kerala. Her mother’s name is Dr Jayasree AK, a community medicine specialist, social activist, and lecturer at Pariyaram Medical College in Kannur district, Kerala. Kani’s parents never got married. In an interview, on being asked about her parent’s marriage, Kani replied,
My parents aren’t married. My mother is an agnostic and my father is an atheist, and they’re both rationalists. They have a scientific temper- this is the sort of family I come from.”
Her parents encouraged Kani to call them by their names rather than addressing them as father and mother. In an interview, she revealed that she was often criticized as a “quirky experiment of her parents” during her childhood days and said,
It was in school when my friends pointed out the oddity in calling my parents their names first struck me. am used to how the outside world criticizes our way of life without really knowing anything about it. At times, it does hurt me a lot. I am overly sensitive and try not to look at that side. This level of disrespect gets me. I know how lucky I am. Some people think it helps my parents shrug off responsibilities and that makes me angry when I know the reality is different.”
Husband & Children
As of 2022, Kani is unmarried.
Reportedly, Kani was in a live-in relationship with Anand Gandhi, an Indian filmmaker, entrepreneur, and media producer.
Kani Kasruti’s parents were against the patriarchal caste system prevalent in India following which they decided to remove their last names. Her parents wanted their daughter to be recognized by her work and not identified by caste.
Kani Kasruti resides in Ananda Bhavan, Thuruvickal P O, Thiruvananthapuram, India, Kerala.
In 2003, Kani made her debut with the Malayalam film Anyar in which she played the role of a bus passenger. She made headlines after appearing as Zeba in the Malayalam film Kerala Cafe. The film was conceived by a team of ten directors, ten cinematographers, musicians, editors, art directors, and actors for the first time in Malayalam cinema. In 2014, Kani made her Tamil debut with the film Burma in which she played the role of Clara. In 2017, she made her Telugu debut with the film Spyder. Biryaani ,Directed by Sajin Baabu
In 2015, Kani appeared in the Malayalam television show Eswaran Sakshiyayi on Flowers TV in which she played the role of Advocate Tresa.
In 2000, Kusruti made her theatre debut with the play Bhagavadajjukam, which is a Sanskrit farce, and is usually attributed to Bodhayana. She played the role of Vasantsena (a kept mistress or prostitute with wealthy or powerful clients) in the play. The play toured across theatre festivals, including the Bharat Rang Mahotsav and the International Theatre Festival of Kerala. She played the role of Kamala in the theatrical production Siddhartha, directed by M. G. Jyotish, and was adapted from the novel ofHermann Hesse’s. In 2007, the play was invited to the Villeneuve en Scene Festival d’Avignon, an annual arts festival held in the French city of Avignon every summer in July. n 2011, Kani joined the renowned touring theatre company Footsbarn to work on a new production of Shakespeare’s Tempest. She played Miranda in the resulting performance “The Indian Tempest”. After touring Ireland, Spain, France, Portugal and India, the production opened at Shakespeare’s Globe in 2013. Kusruti researched, co-developed and acted in the Indo-Polish production ‘Burning Flowers – 7 Dreams of a Woman’, an Indo-Polish production of Polish theatre group directed by Pawel Szkotak and produced by Teatr Biuro Podróży.
It is a play on violence against women. Aparna, theatre activist, and I have been collecting the material for the play for some time now. The Polish group had a skeleton of a play by the time they arrived and then they supplemented it with the material we provided,”
Trolled for posting an exposing photo on social media
In November 2016, Kani Kusruti did a photoshoot for FWD Life magazine. As soon as the pictures went on social media, people started criticizing her for posing in revealing clothes. In an interview, Kani talked about how she faced the criticism received on her pictures and said,
A few years ago I posted a photo of myself wearing a backless dress on social media. Then a lot of people came up with the comment. ‘How dare you do this? Who took this photo? What will your father say if he sees this? ‘ But to everyone’s surprise, my father himself commented on the photo, which was called Beautiful Picture. If a negative comment comes from a stranger I am not going to intervene or respond to it.”
Quit acting due to sexual demands made by filmmakers
In February 2019, Kani reportedly quit acting and exposed the Malayalam film industry alleging that filmmakers asked for sexual demands in return for a role in the film. She revealed that filmmakers even approached her mother to convince her of sexual favours following which Kani chose to quit the film industry and shifted to the theatre. However, she returned back to films as she was unable to earn enough from theatrical productions to make ends meet.
I always wanted to be an artiste in the cinema industry. But once I came in, I realised that I wouldn’t be able to make it. There were lots of adjustments needed to be done and hence decided to drop the idea of becoming an actress. Many even came to my mom telling that her daughter should make adjustments if she wants to be the part of the project.”
Open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi
In July 2019, Kani Kusruti, along with 48 other celebrities, wrote an open letter to the 14th Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi to highlight incidents of communal violence in the country. The letter highlighted the fact that the slogan ‘Jai Shree Ram’ had been used as a provocative war cry. In October 2019, an FIR was filed against those 49 people
Trolled for wearing a red lipstick
In January 2021, Kani Kusruti attended Kerala’s 50th State Film Awards in which she wore red lipstick from Fenty Beauty by Rihanna. A few social media users discriminated against her on the basis of her dark skin tone and trolled her for wearing red lipstick as it is a prevalent belief that only fair-skinned women can carry off the red shade of lipstick.
- 2019: Best Actress for the short film Counterfeit Kunkoo at the Rome Prisma Independent Film Awards
- 2020: Best Actress Award for the Malayalam film Biriyaani at Kerala State Film Awards
- 2020: Best Actress award for the Malayalam film Biriyaani at the 5th BRICS Film Festival Awards
- 2020: Best actress for the Malayalam film Biriyaani at the Imagine India Film Festival in Madrid
- 2021: Best Actor Comedy, Female ( Critics ): Kani Kasruti – Ok Computer at the Filmfare OTT Awards 2021
- 2021: Nominated for the Best Actor Award at the Tribeca Festival in New York for her performance in the film Tryst with Destiny
- 2021: Nominated for Best Actress Award at the New York Indian Film Festival for the Malayalam film Biriyaani
- 2021: Critics Choice Award for Best Actress: Comedy for the web series OK Computer at Filmfare OTT Awards
- 2022: Best Actress: Critics Award for the Malayalam film Biriyaani at the Filmfare Awards Sout
- Director(s): P Padmarajan, K G George, and Dileesh Pothan
- Film(s): Arappatta Kettiya Graamathil and Kallan Pavithran
- Singer: Lakshminarayana Shankar
- Actress: Manju Warrier
- Actor: Mammootty
- To fill out the matriculation exam application form, at the age of 15, Kani discovered her last name “Kusruti,” which means mischievous in Malayalam.
My parents did not want to mention caste or religion during my school admission.But the teachers, and the admin staff insisted on it. They wanted to put my father’s name Maitreyan. My mother fought really hard for me not have a second name but eventually, we settled for the initial K. For most part of my school life, I was Kani or Kani K. But while applying for my Class 10 board examination, they demanded once again that I have a second name.I came back home and discussed with my parents. My father was funny, so he said, ‘Why don’t you put kundi? (ass), kalli (liar) or kundamandi (being silly)’… mostly all bad words. I was a teen, so frankly, I was a little agitated by the whole thing. Like, why is everyone making such a big deal about your second name? Since I had to put something, my father randomly mentioned Kusruti (mischievous) and I said okay.
- Kani is fond of dancing, and she never took any formal training in dance. In an interview, she talked about how keen she is for dance and said,
I just do what I like, you can call it any form of dancing. Kathak…Bharatanatyam…but when I dance it looks nothing like anything. It is my most pleasurable activity. I can dance on the road though I do not think I can offer anything to it. It’s my high.”
- After winning her national award, she dedicated her award to PK Rosy, the first woman actor in Malayalam cinema who was hounded out of the state for being a Dalit who dared to play an upper-caste woman in a film. The year was 1930 ((Deccan Herald)) and she dedicated her win to Malayalam cinema’s first-ever heroine, PK Rosy. In an interview, on being asked why she dedicated her award to PK Rosy, Kani replied,
PK Rosy is Malayalam’s first heroine. She had portrayed the role of an upper-caste woman in the film Vigathakumaran. Many people, who watched the film, were disturbed because she herself was from the Pulaya caste. They burned her house down, and she had to run away. In a way, such discrimination still continues. We hardly see any actors from the backward castes as stars or actors, who get a lot of offers in the Indian cinema. Another reason is that violence and abuse against women — be it in the film industry or anywhere for that matter — still continues. People have attacked PK Rosy very brutally — such things happen even now. So there are all these aspects why I’m reminded of her every day as an actor. Also, there has always been a request to have the Best Actress Award called the PK Rosy Award but that never happened. So this is also a reminder.
- Kani Kasruti’s hobbies include dancing, practising the sitar, and gardening.
- was approached by Grihalakshmi after the Kerala State Awards were announced. , a popular Malayalam fortnightly magazine approached Kani for a photoshoot for their December edition, she had categorically told them that she wanted to wear minimal make-up and wished to have her body hair untouched by make-up and/or photoshop.
They must have sent the copy to print without specifying what I had required, who would, in turn, have airbrushed the cover image like they usually do with all covers.”
- Kani, in an interview, revealed her opinion that she doesn’t has a place in Bollywood
Quite honestly I don’t think I have a place in Bollywood. They don’t really cast dark-skinned women with my kind of features in commercial films, do they? Also, I can’t speak Hindi fluently. So unless I have sufficient time to rehearse for the film, I can’t play a part in Bollywood anyway. To be in Bollywood one requires to actively network, make a professional portfolio, hire an agent – I am not saying these are bad things, I just haven’t made the effort to do them, so that’s one more reason. I usually get cast in independent films through the credit of my previous work.”
- In an interview, on being asked if discrimination on this basis of looks exists in the Malayalam film industry, Kani replied,
In any case, there is discrimination on the basis of your skin colour, or the way you look, or your features. It is a glamorous industry at the end of the day and discrimination exists. A few more brown-skinned people may have come, but you won’t see a dark-skinned person. And if you look at caste, there is no representation from any other castes as the hero and heroine.
- In an interview, on being asked apart from parents, what helped her deal with criticism about skin colour and life choices, Kani replied,Apart from my parents, theatre really helped me. Working in theatre made me see things more objectively. I let go of my inhibitions. It helped me break my own notion of stereotypes. I could play different characters, experience life through them, their thoughts.
- According to Kani, has she not become an actor, she would be a public health employee or a doctor or a dancer.
I prefer science to art. If possible I would have pursued a career in public health. I would have done my MBBS and higher studies. Dance is something I enjoy. When it comes to acting, I prefer live performances on stage to doing it in front of a camera. It could be theatre or classical dance forms such as Koodiyattam. Had I learnt Koodiyattam I would not have done anything else.”
- Biriyaani premiered at the Asiatic Film festival in Rome, which was held in Italy on October 3, 2019.