Apart from Mad Men in its 1960s setting, most TV dramas shy from showing anyone with cigarettes.
But that doesn’t mean Kalinda Sharma isn’t constantly smoking on The Good Wife. No cigarettes are involved, mind you, nor are they needed by this steamy in-house investigator at the Chicago law firm of Lockhart Gardner. With her implacable shrewdness, sass and sexuality, Kalinda heats up every scene she’s in.
No wonder she has emerged as a viewer favourite among the many colourful characters populating this CBS drama. And no wonder Archie Panjabi, who last year won an Emmy for her portrayal of Kalinda, can hold her own in a robust cast of actors who include series star Julianna Margulies as well as Christine Baranski, Josh Charles, Matt Czuchry, Alan Cumming and Chris Noth. (The Good Wife airs Sunday at 9 p.m. EST.)
“I’m not just a woman in a pair of boots,” says Panjabi, describing her character with delicious understatement.
Along with her trademark knee-high boots, Kalinda is distinguished by the tough-gal wardrobe snugly sheathing her petite frame and, at the same time, by her defiant composure — little if anything throws her, stops her (including ethics or legal niceties), or penetrates her well-defended shell.
Adding to the intrigue of Kalinda is her matter-of-fact bisexuality, and her exotic but so-far-unexamined ethnic origins. To its credit, The Good Wife makes nothing of the fact that the actress chosen to play her is Indian and, though British-born, has adopted for Kalinda a throaty, Americanized purr that obscures any regional identity.
In short, Kalinda cannot be categorized. She is who she is: a source of fascination.
“I think that’s the way forward,” says Panjabi. “You don’t focus on the differences, you don’t make an issue of them —you just present them.”