Srinagar, May 17: A Kashmiri Pandit girl who plays the role of ‘Husna’ in the film “The Kerala Story” has said that the movie is not against any religion, but highlights the “misuse of religion to create hate and violence”.
Eleena Koul, currently residing in Delhi, has also appeared as 'Roohi' in the short film "Idli Amma" (2023), a biopic about M Kamalathal, which is currently participating in film festivals and has high expectations of winning a national award.
Eleena completed her bachelor’s in journalism from the Delhi University and pursued an acting training programme from The Indian School of Acting in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. She is currently pursuing Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU).
In an exclusive interview with the news agency KNO, Eleena shared her lifelong dream of becoming an actor, starting from the age of three. After connecting with people in the film and theatre industry in Delhi, she received guidance on pursuing acting. Inspired by her maternal grandfather's love for films, she learned the importance of sophistication and class.
Eleena emphasized the need for proper training in every profession and took acting classes for a year after a two-year decision-making process. Shortly after completing her training, she landed a role in the film "Idli Amma," working alongside veteran actress Sarita Joshi.
While Eleena rejected several projects, she accepted the role of Husna in "The Kerala Story" because she felt a deep connection to the character and believed in the importance of sharing the stories of women facing similar situations worldwide. She expressed pride in playing the character, despite feeling a stark contrast between Husna and herself in terms of appearance, speech, behavior, and mannerisms.
Eleena clarified that "The Kerala Story" is not against any religion but highlights the misuse of religion to spread hate and violence. She emphasized that Islam does not teach hate and denounced those who use it as a reference for their own benefit.
Hailing from Kokernag area of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, Eleena grew up in Jammu. She encouraged aspiring actors from Jammu and Kashmir to study the art, pursue training, watch films, read books on acting techniques, and develop a vivid imagination and mindful listening skills.
Eleena expressed her belief in the talent of the youth in Jammu and Kashmir and their ability to achieve their goals, be it entering Bollywood or any other field. She mentioned having a few projects in the pipeline and expressed gratitude for the encouragement she receives from her family, friends, and even strangers.
"The Kerala Story" delves into the contentious topic of love jihad, focusing on the conversion of women in Kerala to Islam and their alleged abduction to ISIS-controlled regions.
The film's teaser, released in November 2022 by director Sudipto Sen, received backlash for allegedly depicting Kerala as a hub of radical Islamic terrorism. A case was registered under sections 153 A & B of the Indian Penal Code, addressing the promotion of disharmony and enmity between faith-based groups.
However, Sen stated that the film would address concerns upon its release and provide further substantiation.