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



Dulquer Salmaan

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?

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?

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?

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?

(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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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

Did you  think Sita Ramam would  be  a success?

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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