The mysterious Kalinda Sharma: the best bisexual character on TV

The mystery with Kalinda has always been (and continues to be) whether she is motivated solely by getting what she wants professionally and not what she’s truly looking for when it comes to her own life. At this point, she’s had dalliances with men and women, and it appears that the only real relationship that has been acknowledged is the one she once had with Donna (Lili Taylor), who made an appearance in one episode earlier this season.

Panjabi spoke with The Daily Beast about her role, and why she thinks it’s Kalinda is of the most-loved new characters on television.

I don’t think there’s ever been a no-nonsense, bisexual investigator of Indian origin. I think people are always excited by something new. Some people just like her because she wears thigh-high boots and goes around smashing cars with baseball bats, but there are so many different reasons why people connect with her… I was worried that some people may find her too strong and too sharp.

Before this interview, Panjabi hadn’t acknowledged Kalinda’s sexual orientation, insisting that she’s a mystery that would be unraveled slowly. After this week’s episode, it appears that everyone in Kalinda’s life is just as confused as viewers are, with both men and women longing to know more about the guarded private investigator. But it’s not as simple as we all want it to be.

“I can understand men liking her because of the whole sexy thing,” Panjabi said, “but how many women resonate with that character surprised me. There are a lot of women like that in society who are intelligent but are not buttoned up, who are happy to celebrate their sexuality, who are confident about themselves, and who are respected by their superiors. It’s a new kind of woman on TV, but it’s just reflecting what’s going on in society.”

Kalinda is the only one who knows what she’s truly attracted to, who she is motivated to be with based on love or attraction rather than some other sort of gain — which is one reason she’s one of the best-written characters on TV today. She’s not transparent; she’s guarded, fearless and witty. She’s also gorgeous and has impeccable style. There are so many other things about her besides her sexuality or even her ethnicity that give her the depth audiences hope to find in strong characters.

“Kalinda is never looked at as somebody who’s bisexual or ethnic,” Panjabi said. “She’s just looked at as a confident woman … I’ve always tried to do roles where my ethnicity is just something that happens to be, as opposed to a big issue being made of it.”

So when it comes to the women and men in Kalinda’s life, it can be hard to decide if they are romantic interests or simply persons of interest. And that will continue to be shown in the next couple of episodes Panjabi said.

“The nature of the scene [this week] is whether we hate each other,” she said. “Suddenly, you have these two people so drawn to each other that it brings in the new dimension of the sexual tension between them. Are these two going to kill each other or are these two going to have sex with each other?”

“Over the next few episodes… one does happen. The temperature rises so much that things do have to go one way or the other. Blake will end up winning no matter what happens between them because something does come out [about Kalinda] that will probably surprise the audience… In the process, she builds a strong relationship with [Matt Czuchry's] Cary. With Kalinda, you never know which way it’s going to go, but it’s definitely a friendship that develops… and you realize there is a similarity between the two of them.

Cary is Kalinda’s contact at the State’s Attorney Office. Lockhart & Gardner is trying to woo him back to their firm, while Cary is trying to avoid his office looking into Kalinda as a possible murder suspect. They have a burgeoning friendship that doesn’t appear to be sexual, and Czuchry told E! he thinks the friendship will “grow,” but didn’t hint at anything other than a platonic relationship.

And as far as what will happen with Kalinda and Blake — will they kill each other or have sex — it might turn out to be closer to the former. Executive producer Robert King said at TCA last month that Blake will not be on the show much longer, and considering how much he likes pestering Kalinda, ridding of him in a permanent way is probably the only way.

Kalinda is not afraid to use any means to get what she wants, and that includes her sexuality. However, that doesn’t mean she throws herself at every political figure or person that has some kind of pull. Instead, she artfully leads them into wanting to seduce her, so she has them right where she wants them. So she’s an opportunist, but she’s an equal-opportunist, and fun to watch in action.

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