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Dulquer Salmaan: “I give more importance to the script than my role”

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The great Mammootty’s son Dulquer Salmaan has  established a  unique  and enviable  place of his own in Malayalam  cinema. With his latest film Sita Ramam doing terrific business, Dulquer takes  time  off for an exclusive  interview.

Sita Ramam  is your most conventional film to date?

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I felt like  doing  a  pure love story. It’s  been a while since I did something like that.When I  heard the script I loved it. It felt it was  a pure vintage romance,something I hadn’t done before. As I  heard  the narration I couldn’t tell where it was going. I loved  the  period flavour , music, the conflict. I think all  of us  in the team  believed in it. All of us  pushed ourselves.

 You  shot Sita Ramam through  the pandemic?

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We shot  the  Kashmir portions in March 2021.After that our entire  schedule  got  pushed to November 2021. That was excruciating. But all of us believed in it.I  wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t believe  in it.

It’s amazing how boyish you look  in the  film when you are actually  36?

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I know. But I am  ready now to play my age. I’ve  occupied  that boy zone for ten years now. I feel I need to man  up now.

You did  a  goofy love story  very recently Hey Sinamika. What did you think of it?

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(Laughs) I did it for the  director. This was  choreographer  Brinda’s directorial debut and I simply had  to be part  of it. She has  made a large contribution to my career. My image  as a romantic  hero owes  a lot  to her dance steps. Besides, I liked my character. He was unlike  anything I had  done  before.

Your choice of roles is fascinating.Kurup where  you played  a real-life conman , I had issues with?

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I  also had   some issues . But my director Srinath Rajendran was  attempting  a  big film, and that too after a long gap.But  I enjoyed  doing the  role. I feel  actors my generation need  to crane  our necks out. If we  keep doing the same thing the audience  would  get bored.

In no other  part of  India,or for that matter the world, are actors doing such original and pathbreaking work as in Malayalam cinema?

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I think it is  our audience that  keeps us constantly on our toes. There is no way that they would accept  any repetition from us. I can’t say, I did good work in 2018 or 2019…that would be no excuse for me to get complacent. The audience here constantly  needs to be surprised.And I also need  to surprise  myself with every role.All of us actors of our generation in  Malayalam cinema are doing interesting work.We have no choice. None  of us can rest  on  our past  laurels.

Yes, I saw Fahadh Faasil’s new  film last night. It was unbelievably authentic?

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Yes  , Malyankunju. Floods  and landslides are common in certain parts of  Kerala. It is important  for  us to   make  and be in films that are rooted to reality.

You did four Malayalam films during the  last  two years: Kurup, Hey Sinamika,  Salute  and Sita Ramam. And you have R Baliki’s Chup coming up. What is your criteria  for selection of roles?

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If it is something that  feels already done, then I am not drawn to it.  As an actor I give more  importance  to the script than my role. Now I’ve reached  a  stage where I want to  challenge myself  more and more in the roles I play.Going forward, I want to continue to challenge myself. New content is what  makes me  happy.I avoid  remakes and sequels  and anything unoriginal which  I may  accidently end up doing if it comes from  cinema that I am not familiar with. I don’t want to wake  up and not look forward  to my work.  Now there  is  so much variety in the choice of  roles. I am working in Malayalam, Telugu and Hindi. Sita Ramam is my  second Telugu film .I had  earlier done Mahaniti in Telugu with the same  producers.

In Hindi  your films  haven’t really worked out. I  feel Balki’s Chup will?

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I hope  so. It is  something very different  from anything attempted before.And I wonder how or why he thought of me  for this film. Shooting with Balki is  fun. He is not worried about what works and what doesn’t. I  really enjoyed myself.

Chup is deeply affiliated to the cinema  of Guru Dutt. Were you familiar with Guru Dutt?

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I actually learnt about Guru Dutt while  shooting Chup. I  was  familiar with the  music of Guru Dutt and  knew about him. But thanks to this film, I got my first genuine exposure to  the genius of  Guru Dutt. I am grateful for that. Today more and more cinema  that breaks boundaries and rules are happening.When I was growing up  in the 1980s I was  exposed  to  my father’s cinema.

Yes, the great Mammootty. Even  he  took a lot of risks in his career?

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Absolutely. They wouldn’t allow him to do only conventional roles. In Kerala  actors’ careers are moulded according to the audiences’ expectations. The more  they expect, the harder we push the envelope. They  don’t like us to get lax.

Do you  at all take  your father’s  advice on scripts?

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It is  very difficult..As it is, narrations take time. To then find the time to discuss it…But nowadays we  do exchange  ideas, although we are  both busy  he more than me.  We are  both such  different actors , so there is  so much share. Actually no two actors are the same  in Kerala.

Neither you nor  your father has ever been scared of failing?

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We all are scared. But taking risks comes naturally to us.

Did you  think Sita Ramam would  be  a success?

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In  my head I felt we  were creating an epic.  During the  narration I  could feel  how beautiful it would be. But I didn’t  expect this  kind of  acceptance. I thought  a  love story like this  would perhaps work on a  smaller budget. But I am glad we struck to our vision.Also  I think Mrunal Thakur brought in   a freshness  to the  whole  love story. When you are doing a pure romance the element of  freshness is most important.

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Aamir Khan’s Sister Plays Shah Rukh’s Mother In Pathaan

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Aamir Khan’s Sister Plays Shah Rukh’s Mother

Ever  since Pathaan released on Wednesday, audiences  have been  curious to know who  is the woman who plays Shah Rukh Khan’s adoptive mother in Afghanistan. The stately lady  with  royal looks is none  other than the late producer  Tahir Hussain’s daughter and  Aamir Khan’s elder  sister Nikhat Khan.

 Nikhat has been  closely  associated with the  film industry  and has helped her father in the production of his  films like Dulha Bikta Hai and  Tum Mere  Ho.

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Nikhat has  acted earlier in the Akshay Kumar starrer Mission Mangal ,  Ajay Devgan’s Tanhaji and  in Sandh Ki Aankh(as a Maharani).

For Pathaan, it was Shah Rukh Khan who suggested Nikhat Khan should play his foster-mother in  Afghanistan who names him ‘Pathaan’. It proved to be  an inspired  piece of casting, as  audience have  loved Nikhat  Khan’s cameo.

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It is  heartwarming that  all three Khan superstars  are  associated with Pathaan in one  way  or the other.

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Anurag Kashyap’s New Film Is About Love Jihad

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Love Jihad, whatever  that means, is  the theme  of  Anurag Kashyap’s new film Almost Pyaar  With D  J Mohabbat.

Debutant Karan  Mehta plays a Muslim boy  in an intense relationship with  Alaya F who plays  a Hindu  girl.Kashyap has spared the  audience none of the ugliness that  such a relationship generates  among  social-media  bouncers, the self-styled  guardian of morality .

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In the hardhitting powerful and pertinent film  a  bigot is heard commenting snidely, “These people first talk about Mohabbat. Then  they talk about Mohammed.”

Happily and  surprisingly,  the Central Board Of Film Certification gave the  film a ‘UA’ certificate  with no  cuts: a  rare non-‘A’ film of Kashyap.

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So far  Kashyap and his  team have kept the Love Jihad part  of  the plot  out of all media interaction.

But the  cat is  now  out of the bag.

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Samantha Ruth Prabhu to Star Alongside Varun Dhawan in Prime Video’s Indian Original Series , Samantha Speaks

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Samantha Ruth Prabhu

Samantha Ruth Prabhu will be starring alongside Varun Dhawan in the Indian installment of the Citadel universe, the global-event series from Prime Video and the Russo Brothers’ AGBO. The untitled Citadel series based out of India is being helmed by renowned creator duo Raj & DK (Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK), who are the showrunners and directors.

 The local installment is written by Sita R. Menon, along with Raj & DK. The streaming service also confirmed that the production is currently underway in Mumbai. After this, the unit will head  to North India and then onwards to international locales like Serbia and South Africa.

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  Richard Madden (Bodyguard) and Priyanka Chopra Jonas will star in the first-to-launch series within the Citadel universe, which comes from the Russo Brothers’ AGBO along with David Weil (Hunters) and is set to premiere in 2023. Alongside Madden and Chopra Jonas, the first-to-launch Citadel series will also feature Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games saga). Additional local-language Citadel productions are also in the works, including an Italian Original series starring Matilda De Angelis (The Undoing).

  Speaking on  her participation in  The Citadel  franchise for  the  first time,Samantha says, “When Prime Video and Raj & DK approached me with this project, I decided to take it up in a heartbeat! After working with this team on The Family Man, it is homecoming for me.The Citadel universe, the interconnected storylines between the productions across the globe, and most importantly, the script of the Indian installment really excited me.”

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   Samantha  says she is  looking forward  to working with Varun Dhawan  .  “I am thrilled to be a part of this brilliant universe conceptualised by the Russo Brothers. I am also looking forward to be working with Varun for the first time, on this project. He is someone who is full of life and cheer when you’re around him.”

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Bollywood’s Achche Din Have Come

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 Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar

All you doomsday  prophets, the  booms-day  profits  are here.  Pathaan  has  opened the floodgates again for Bollywood’s  bumper  bonanza at the  boxoffice.And now there is  only the achche din ahead  for  Hindi  cinema.

In the  next   two months there are  three sureshot  blockbusters coming up, beginning with Shehzada.  An astute devilishly impish  adaptation  of  Allu Arjun’s  2020 Telugu   blockbuster  Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo.The super-popular Kartik  Aaryan gives  his own  spin to the  character. This  performance will take   Kartik to the  next level of stardom. Kartik’s version of  Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo is  radically different  from  its Telugu  version. Shehzada  takes  the core idea of  the Telugu original  and turns it into a  something  completely different. Kartik’s  co-star in Shehzada  is  Kriti  Sanon with whom he earlier shared superhit space in Lukka Chuppi.

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 Then there  is Luv Ranjan’s ravishing rom-com   Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar. The director’s   male viewpoint on the chaos  of love relationships  crests to a comic  high in his latest. Ranjan  for  the first time, collaborates with Ranbir Kapoor for the  first time  collaborates with Shraddha  Kapoor  who badly needs a hit.This film should do the  trick. The winsome  lead pair tries  to do one  another  in a  game of Luv This is Luv Ranjan’s Hum…Aapke Hain Con. Ranjan  has in the past used  the romcom  space to  entertain his audience  to the hilt, he  says this  time the stakes are different. It is  not something we’ve seen before.

 Finally  it is   Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani.  Karan  Johar’s first directorial in six years(not counting the one segment each  in Ghost Stories and  Lust Stories). This time he has assembled a dream star-cast  of Dharmendra, Jaya Bachchan, Shabana Azmi, Ranveer Singh and  the  boxoffice darling(s) Alia Bhatt.  But trust me, this one is  not about assembling stars  into a complacent plot. The writing in this  zany Romeo & Juliet is so crisp  and engrossing, the experience  is  likely to be   the visual version of a multi-flavour icrecream cone. Colour, choler and karma collide in this tragic-comic love story . Let the  box office dhamaka  begin  from the house  of Dharma.

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