‘Starfish’ Ending Explained & Film Summary: Who Did Tara Finally Choose, And Why?


Starfish, directed by Akhilesh Jaiswal and starring Khushali Kumar, is a romantic drama thriller that fails to deliver. I have yet to read Bina Nayak’s novel Starfish Pickle on which the film is based, but the screenplay is thoroughly disappointing, with a disjointed plot that has no saving. The film is packed with every possibility, but none of it is explored to its full potential. It is almost impossible to relate to or connect to the characters because of how superficial they are. The only saving grace are the underwater shots. Starfish is not a film worth recommending, but if you have ended up watching it like I did and have questions about the ending, this article will hopefully be of help.

Spoiler Alert

Why did Tara’s mother commit suicide?

Tara would often spiral down a rabbit hole, and we eventually find out that she struggled to cope with her mother’s death. Tara remembered her mother saying how much she hated her when she was just a child. She did not share a friendly relationship with her mother, Sukanya, and she mostly saw her get drunk beyond her wit. Sukanya’s hatred for Tara affected her to the extent that she started to rely on drugs and alcohol. It had almost become a ritual for Tara to travel to Goa every weekend and party with a bunch of strangers.

We soon find out in Starfish that the news of Tara’s unplanned pregnancy affected her mother. Tara had met musician and spiritual guru Arlo in Goa. She was mesmerized by his singing and impressed by his knowledge of the world, and they ended up making love. Sukanya was ashamed of her daughter when she found out that the unborn child belonged to a random musician she came across in Goa. Tara was asked to get aborted, and while she and her father stepped out of the house, her mother chose to take a drastic step. In her suicide note, Sukanya mentioned Tara was the result of a mistake she made twenty-two years ago, and she believed it was finally time to pay for her mistake. Sukanya slit her wrist, and by the time Tara and Ramesh returned, it was too late. Tara blamed herself for the death of her mother, and she was determined to find out more about the mistake Sukanya mentioned in her note.

How did the truth impact Tara?

Tara had found out that her mother had been to Goa in 1992, and she believed that trip had changed her completely. Tara tried to connect with all of Sukanya’s friends to find the truth, but no one was ready to discuss the Goa trip. Tara’s only hope was Leslie Fernandes, Sukanya’s friend and admirer, who worked at the Indian Embassy in Sicily and had recently retired. When Tara got the opportunity to travel to Sicily, she decided to meet Leslie. He was surprised to see Tara in Sicily all of a sudden. Leslie did not know about Sukanya’s death, and the news shocked him. Tara went ahead and showed him the note her mother left. He initially was hesitant to answer her question, but seeing how desperate Tara was, he decided to confess the truth.

Leslie disclosed that Ramesh was not Tara’s biological father. When Sukanya traveled to Goa thirty years ago, she met a musician. She was hellbent on meeting George Harrison, and the musician was on close terms with him. Sukanya took a liking to the musician, who turned out to be Arlo but was then known by the name Kailash. Tara remembered seeing Arlo wearing a pendant with Kailash embedded in it. She was devastated to find out that the man she fell in love with in Goa was her biological father. She refused to believe Leslie and left his house. But Tara could not get the thought out of her head. Many instances proved that maybe Leslie was right, but the truth was a lot for Tara to accept. She ended up consuming alcohol and taking every possible drug she could lay her hands on. Tara was senseless when Aman found her, and when she woke up the next morning, she saw her father in the room. Tara realized she had messed up once again. Ramesh decided it was time for Tara to get married, and Aman was the groom they chose for her.

What stopped Tara from getting married?

Tara was afraid of her recklessness destroying her family, so she agreed to get married to Aman. While Tara had initially taken an interest in the Navy man, she felt a lot more connected with the hipster musician, Neil. He was a follower of Arlo, who had now become a renowned spiritual guru and musician. Neil and Tara were friends first, and it was during the trip to Sicily that they fell in love. Neil was surprised to learn that Tara had all of a sudden decided to get married. He showed her the house he had bought in the hopes that she would decide to stay, but Tara was not ready to disappoint her family again. She walked away from Neil and chose to do what her family thought would be the best for her.

Soon, in Starfish, we find out that Tara is pregnant, and Neil is the father. Tara started to doubt her decision, and on the day of her marriage, she learned that there was a rescue operation where she needed to volunteer. Both she and Aman worked on the operation, and their marriage had to be postponed. Tara stopped responding to Aman’s calls. After the operation, she realized how important it was to let go of everything that made her feel caged up. She burned down her mother’s diary and released all her fish from the tank. Tara wanted a new beginning, but she knew that the only way to do so was by resolving her past conflict.

Who did Tara Finally choose, and why?

At the end of Starfish, Tara decides to confront Arlo to find the truth. Arlo confessed that he had recognized Tara the moment he had seen her in Malta. Once he realized that she was not willing to acknowledge him, he decided not to confront her. He assumed that Tara wanted to forget that chapter of her life, and he did not wish to make it any more difficult for her. Tara questioned him about her mother, but Arlo admitted that he never met Sukanya in his life. Tara called him out for being a liar, but the spiritual guru had evidence to prove his innocence. He showed her an article that stated Arlo was in London during the time Sukanya visited Goa.

Arlo helped Tara understand that the decision her mother made years ago should not be considered a mistake. Lust and attraction are only natural human responses, and they should not be viewed in a negative light. Maybe Sukanya could never cope with the fact that she failed to become a responsible mother and blamed Tara for her misfortune, even though she was not at fault. Instead of accepting her reality and loving Tara unconditionally, she burdened her with her past baggage. To further prove that he was not the Kailash Tara was searching for, Arlo showed her his identity card, which clearly read that his name was Arvind Lohri. Tara finally found some closure, and she decided not to poke any further.

Starfish‘s ending suggests that maybe Arlo did not tell the entire truth. Soon after Tara left, Arlo flicked his identity card into the pool, suggesting that it was a fake that he used to prove his innocence. Maybe after finding the truth, Arlo realized that Tara would never be able to cope with it. We can assume that he joined the dots after learning about Tara’s life from Neil, and he started building false evidence from then on. They got involved without knowing their relationship with one another, and perhaps Arlo realized it was best to keep the truth a secret to help Tara move on in life. Tara was about to make the same mistake her mother did. Instead of staying true to herself, she was about to settle for a life she knew she would find no joy in. Even though Aman was the man her family chose for her, it was Neil that she loved, and the fact that she was pregnant with his child gave her all the more reasons to call off the wedding.

Two years later, we find Neil and Tara living the best of their lives with their son. She broke free from her mother’s pattern and chose what truly made her happy. Tara can be compared to a starfish—capable of healing its own wounds and becoming whole all over again. Tara opened her pickle store as a tribute to her grandmother, who taught her the art of pickling. She believed that it was Neil’s love for her that helped her heal, and it gave her the courage to start all over again.

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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