|Physical Stats & More
|in centimeters- 170 cm
in meters- 1.70 m
in feet & inches- 5’ 7”
|in kilograms- 60 kg
in pounds- 132 lbs
|Figure Measurements (approx.)
|Film (Malayalam): Anyar (2003) as a bus passenger
TV (Malayalam): Ishwaran Sakshiyayi (2015) on Flowers TV as Adv. Tresa
Web Series (Hindi): OK Computer (2021) on Disney+ Hotstar as Monalisa Paul
|2019: Best Actress Award for the short film Counterfeit Kunkoo (2018) at the January Awards
2019: Best Actress Award for the Malayalam film Biriyani at the Jury Awards
2020: Best Actress Award for the Malayalam- language film Biriyani (2019) at the Kerala State Film Awards
|Date of Birth
|12 September 1985 (Thursday)
|Age (as of 2023)
|Cheruvakkal, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India
|• School of Drama & Fine Arts, Thrissur, Kerala
• L’École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq, Paris
|Bachelor of Arts in Theatre
|Non-vegetarian The Soup
|• Faced casting couch
In 2019, Kani, during an interview, said that she had decided to take a break from the film industry. During the same discussion, she revealed the reason and said that she faced the casting couch multiple times and said that once, a filmmaker approached her mother to convince Kani Kusruti to fulfil his sexual demands. Kani explained,
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 lot of restrictions were imposed for being a female actor. I found it hard to survive 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."
Further, Kani, in the same interview, said that she had decided to resume her career as a theatre artist; however, owing to the low income in theatres, she returned to the film industry.
• Open letter to Narendra Modi
In 2019, Kani Kusruti along with 48 other celebrities wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In the letter, they expressed concerns over the growing cases of lynching. The letter read,
The lynching of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities must be stopped immediately. We were shocked to learn from the NCRB that there have been no less than 840 instances of atrocities against Dalits in the year 2016, and a definite decline in the percentage of convictions."
Later, in 2019, an FIR was filed against the 49 celebrities in Muzzafarpur.
• Slammed for wearing red lipstick
In 2021, Kani was slammed by a section of netizens after she was seen wearing red lipstick at Kerala’s 50th State Film Awards; the red lipstick was from Fenty Beauty by Rihanna. Later, Kani, in an interview said that she wore red lipstick to break the taboo that only fair-skinned women can carry off the red shade of lipstick.
|Relationships & More
|Anand Gandhi (filmmaker and entrepreneur)
|Father- Maitreya Maitreyan (social activist)
Mother- Dr Jayasree AK (community medicine specialist, lecturer, and social activist)
|She is the only child of her parents.
|Kallan Pavithran (1981), Arappatta Kettiya Gramathil (1986)
|Urvashi (Malayalam actress), Philomina, Revathi, Manju Warrier
Some Lesser Known Facts About Kani Kusruti
- Kani Kusruti is an Indian actress who predominantly works in the Malayalam entertainment industry. In 2020, she gained popularity after she was featured in the Malayalam film Biriyaani (2020) in which she played the role of Khadeeja.
- Grew up in a small village named Cheruvakkal in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, Kani often performed in several street plays during her childhood.
- Despite belonging to a wealthy household, Kani was enrolled in a Malayalam-medium government school by her parents. During her childhood, she attended a workshop at Pallikoodam, a progressive school founded by Mary Roy and was influenced by the beautifully designed classes of the school. Kani, during an interview, recalled this and said that when she asked her parents why they did not send her to a school with good infrastructure, they said,
They said ordinary people came from the schools I was sent to and that this would help me equip myself for the real world.”
- Daughter of social activists, Jayasree A. K. and Maitreya Maitreyan, Kani’s parents never gave her a surname; according to her parents, a surname was a social symbol for social hierarchy. At fifteen, when she had to fill out an application for her secondary school examination, Kani invented her last name ‘Kusruti,’ which means mischievous in Malayalam.
- Although Kani’s parents live together, they never got legally married and rejected the concept of caste identifiers from surnames. They also influenced Kani to address them by their first names. In an interview, Kani talked about this and how during her childhood, she was called ‘odd’ by her school friends. Kani explained,
I am used to how the outside world criticises our way of life without really knowing anything about it. At times it does hurt me a lot. This level of disrespect gets to me.”
- Kani, during her teenage days, was introduced to Abhinaya Theatre Research Centre, a platform for theatre practitioners. She made her theatrical debut with Abhinaya’s theatrical production Bhagavadajjukam in which she played the role of Vasantsena, a kept mistress or prostitute with wealthy or powerful clients. Kani worked as a theatre artist with Abhinaya from 2000 to 2006.
- In 2003, Kani made her film debut with the Malayalam film Anyar in which she played a supporting role of a bus passenger. In the same year, she played the role of Lakshmi in the Malayalam film Manushyaputhri.
- In 2005, Kani moved to Thrissur from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, and pursued a theatre arts program, between 2005 to 2007.
- Later, she pursued her further theatre education at the L’École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq, Paris, where she studied physical theatre for two years.
- After completing her theatre education in Paris, Kani returned to India, and in 2009, she appeared in the Malayalam-language film The Kerala Cafe in which she played the role of Zeba.
- In 2013, she worked in many Malayalam films like Oru Indian Pranayakadha, North 24 Kaatham, Hotel California, and Natholi Oru Cheriya Meenalla. In 2020, Kani was featured in the award-winning film Biriyaani in which she played the lead role of Khadeeja.
- In 2014, Kani made her Tamil debut with the film Pisaasu. In the same year, Kani was featured in the film Burma in which she played the role of Clara. In 2017, she appeared in the Tamil-language film Spyder in which she played the role of Bhairavadu.
- In 2015, she made her television debut with Flowers TV Malayalam-language show Ishwaran Sakshiyayi in which she played the role of Adv. Tresa.
- Kani Kusruti, after winning the Kerala State Film Awards in 2019, dedicated her award to actress PK Rosy, a Dalit woman and the first female actor in Malayalam cinema. In an interview, Kani Kusruti talked about her award and how she decided to dedicate her award to PK Rosy. She said,
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.”
- In 2016, Kani was brutally trolled after she was featured in the Malayalam-language short film Memories of a Machine, directed by Shailaja Padindala. The short film’s storyline followed the recollection of a woman’s first sexual encounter. The actress, played by Kani Kusruti, in a conversation with her husband, recalled her childhood experience and shared that when she was an 8-year-old child, she was intimately touched by her school’s peon and she enjoyed it. Soon after the short film was released on YouTube, Kani, along with the director, was criticized for normalising child abuse and paedophilia. Homegrown
- In 2020, Kani was featured on the cover of Grihalakshmi Magazine, a woman’s magazine published by the Mathrubhumi group. Kani, during an interview, talked about this and said that when the publishers of the magazine visited her for a photo shoot, she specifically said them that she wanted to wear minimum makeup and requested to have her body hair untouched by makeup and editing.
- In 2021, she made her digital debut with the Disney+ Hotstar series OK Computer in which she played the role of Monalisa Paul. In the same year, she was featured in the Sony LIV series Maharani in which she played the role of Kaveri Sridharan.
- In 2022, Kani appeared in many Malayalam-language films like Super Sharanya, Pada, Vichithram, and Nishiddho.
- Had she not become an actor, she would be a public health employee or a doctor, or a dancer.
- In an interview, Kani Kusruti talked about what her comfort food includes. She said,
When I’m not completely OK, I eat a typical Kerala meal with ayla curry. The meal includes rice, pulisseri, thenga chammanthi (coconut chutney), payaru thoran, meen varuthatu. I don’t know else to say this, but this entire meal is my first preference.”