Movies

‘I’m still very, very desirable’

Photo credit: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

Photo credit: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury  

Blackmail actor Kirti Kulhari is slowly but surely dismantling her sombre image

Kirti Kulhari deserves an award for sleeping – or rather, for pretending to be asleep. At least that’s what she joked about with director Abhinay Deo on the sets of Blackmail, his latest venture. “It was quite easy,” she shares about working on the film. “I have these scenes where I am just sleeping,” she adds before erupting into laughter. Now very much awake, the actor is excited about the dark comedy’s upcoming release with an ensemble cast that includes Irrfan Khan, Divya Dutta, and Arunoday Singh.

The big switch

Blackmail is about Dev, who finds that his wife Reena is cheating on him, and bizarrely chooses to blackmail her lover, only for his plan to backfire later. Kulhari says she jumped at the opportunity to play Reena since the character is a far cry from the solemn characters she’s been recently associated with.

We’ve seen her in the breakthrough role in Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s Pink (2016) with her affecting portrayal of the sensitive Falak Ali. Or even the sentimental and victimised titular character in Madhur Bhandarkar’s Indu Sarkar (2017). “It was time for me to show people a different side and not be the serious, positive girl I always portray,” she says. Although Kulhari has starred in a comedy before with Shekhar Ghosh’s Sooper se Oopar (2013), the film faded into oblivion. Blackmail will be her first venture into dark comedy, and she didn’t have to think twice about working on Deo’s return to the genre after Delhi Belly (2011). “It was a no-brainer,” says the actor.

Talking about her first project with the director, Kulhari reveals that she was not used to Deo’s level of clarity when it came to his creative vision. “He is a super-involved director,” says the actor. “Because he is from advertising, he knows exactly [what he wants].” Sometimes, this kind of involvement and particularity could get stifling, but Kulhari swiftly swipes that aside. In spite of Deo’s style of work, the actor found herself experimenting and being spontaneous with her character. “[Reena] is like a lot of us. She’s not trying to be proper or say the right thing,” Kulhari shares before adding, “The whole film is reactionary… You could just react to whatever you were getting in the moment and be yourself.”

Role playing

The actor also admits that she shares some traits with her character, who she describes as an “emotional fool”, and particularly enjoyed letting loose and becoming hysterical as Reena. “Suddenly [I’d talk] in a high pitch and scream at people which is a part of me. And very few people get to see it.” She then laughs and adds, “It’s getting better.” Though Reena is largely defined as being the cheating spouse, Kulhari sets her character apart from others in the film whose motivations are money and greed. “At least for some time,” Kulhari explains, “[Reena] believes that she is driven by love.” When it comes to her real-life romance, Kulhari has been married to Saahil Sehgal since 2016. Has her marital status resulted in the loss of her appeal with her supposed “non-availability”? “I’m still very, very desirable,” she says. “I don’t care about [those voices], and if they’re loud or being silenced. I’m doing what I need to do, and I’m trying to do that well.”

For now, Kulhari’s focus is on experimenting with her choices and mediums, and is determined to not repeat her roles. “Breaking stereotypes and my own barriers is great fun, because that’s what leads to growth,” she says. The actor will be seen in the short films Maya and Popsicle that she shares are sensitive portrayals of two very different relationships. Currently, she’s working on an Amazon Original ten-episode series titled 4 More Shots Please, directed by Anu Menon. “It’s a fun series that has comedy, drama, love, and sex. So, again, people haven’t seen me doing something like that.” The show follows four girls from South Mumbai and their exploits. “It’s an amazing feeling to go crazy, wild and bold.” It’s something that should happen every time Kulhari signs on a new project.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 2:23:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/im-still-very-very-desirable/article23434628.ece

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