TALENTED newcomer Khushalii Kumar has followed up an impactful film debut in 2022 psychological thriller Dhokha: Round D Corner with the newly released Starfish.
The daughter of late music baron Gulshan Kumar plays a professional diver in her new ocean-set action-romance. Based on author Bina Nayak’s book Starfish Pickle: A Goan Adventure, the movie also features Milind Soman in an important role and shows the actress is one to look out for.
In a freewheeling conversation with Eastern Eye, Khushalii spoke about her role in the film, what made her agree to it, and how she prepared to play a diver.
She also talked about her love for London.
Could you tell us something about your new film Starfish?
It is a very unusual relationship drama with amazing and thrilling action sequences.
We have shot the film in Malta amid some beautiful locations. There are great visuals for people to see. The story is very engaging. I am pretty excited and now looking forward to people’s reaction to the film. They have given a good response to the trailer, and the song Fanna.
The film has good songs and great performances. I am keeping my fingers crossed and hope that the audience enjoys the story of Starfish also.
Tell us about your character in the film?
I am playing a commercial sea diver. She cleans the sea. She brings out the dead bodies and gets out the debris after ships wrecks from deep in the water.
What propelled you to be a part of Starfish?
The film is based on the book Starfish Pickle: A Goan Adventure. When I read the book, I liked the graph of the girl. After finishing the book, I was like, ‘this is what I want to do. There is a lot to do over here’. I wanted to do this because there is so much for a girl to do. So, this attracted me from the very first page.
Tell us more about that?
You jump into the sea for scuba diving, pleasure, to see reefs, and film songs. It was a different set-up here. Besides that, it has a very good storyline which follows this girl, her past traumas, current situations and how her love interests come into her life. So, I found the story very engaging and interesting.
Do you think the film will meet the expectations of those who have read and loved the book?
See, what I have felt and heard from people is that the audience who reads books is completely different from those watching movies in theatres. Having said that, I personally feel that when you have read a book, you are more excited to see how the makers have imagined it visually. You are excited to see that written text come alive on screen. In the case of Starfish, the author is very happy with the way the book has been adapted.
I feel if the author is satisfied, the audience will also love it.
How did you prepare to play a diver?
This requires a special scuba diving training. I went to Malta 10 days before the shoot began. I did a certificate course. Till the time you are not certified, you cannot enter the deep water over there. So, I did full training. They first started with an indoor pool and then took me into the deep water.
Starfish also features Milind Soman and newcomers like Ehan Bhat and Tusharr Khanna. Do you try to learn anything from your co-stars?
Yes, I am always a student and always learning. It was fantastic working with Milind. We have seen him as a very handsome, goodlooking Greek god, but he is an amazing actor. I have immense respect for him.
The way he says his dialogues – his eyes speak.
He makes the whole aura of a scene look so good. When I enacted my scenes with him and the way he did it with his eyes was amazing. You observe and pick up a few things from every actor you work with.
How was it working with Ehan Bhatt?
It was fantastic with Milind and equally with Ehan. I have worked with him before. He is a fantastic actor as well. He will blow you away with his performance. Tusharr is making his film debut. Everyone came well-prepared. We did multiple reading sessions with the director.
Why does your film have the title Starfish?
This is what I had asked author Bina Nayak. She gave the proper explanation, which is very interesting. She said: ‘Starfish is a special fish.
If it gets cut or wounded, it regenerates its body parts on its own. It’s self-healing and that’s what Tara’s character is about. How she self-heals from her past wounds is a great metaphor and that’s why it’s called Starfish’.
What are your favourite London memories?
Oh, I love London. Summers are beautiful there. Winters are a different feel altogether. I love winter carnival. I love going there and having hot chocolate. I love Southall also. When I miss Indian food, I go over there and eat. London always brings a smile to my face. Jim (Edgar) who shot our film is from Britain itself. There are a lot of memories which come from there.
What are your upcoming projects?
There is Ghudchadhi and then there is Dedh Bigha Zameen. Both films are in the pipeline. They will be coming out next year.