Not here for stardom...

beyond borders

Dulquer Salmaan

He is a popular star in Malayalam films and is also known for his funny hashtags on his Instagram handle. Yes, we’re talking about Dulquer Salmaan. His Bollywood debut hit the screens in the first week of August.

On a visit to Mumbai, he was happy to accommodate questions from us. The actor has his priorities straight, and he accepted the role in Karwaan within a week of the offer. We ask if he had ever planned on a debut in Hindi cinema? “I wasn’t looking at it actively as a debut. I’ve always wanted to do something that resonates with my sensibilities,’’ he replies. ‘Karwaan was not planned, neither were the Tamil or Telugu films. I keep doing Malayalam films and with every good movie, I think more and more doors open.”

Does he get offered remakes of his films in other languages? “On principle, remakes of my films don’t interest me because as an actor, I’ll not be doing anything new,” Dulquer says.

“I don’t want to be a part of projects for the sake of it and do them mechanically. I came into acting to relieve the monotony I was experiencing, and I cannot adjust to something like that.” He would also not want to discuss a couple of Hindi offers he had got in the past.

The director of Karwaan, Akarsh Khurana, raves about his grasp of Hindi, especially his accent, stating that he had kept a language coach on board but did not need him. “I hope that I have done Hindi justice,” Dulquer laughs.

 Akarsh says that Dulquer has a knack for picking up languages. “I really can’t pinpoint one reason,” says the actor. “Possibly, it is my schooling, where I had Hindi as a second language. Maybe there is a knack. In both school and college, I was exposed to a lot of kids from all parts of the country, and a sizable portion of whom spoke Hindi.”

Dulquer, however, admits that it is a privilege to ‘be introduced’ in multiple languages. “I generally feel lucky. It was never as if, ‘Now I will do a Hindi film and let me sign one’. I should get an offer from the filmmakers from Hindi or another language. I think every actor goes by his gut feeling,” he says. 

Dulquer clarifies that he does have a penchant for relatable cinema. “I don’t like sci-fi stuff. Star Wars does not inspire me. I do like Batman or Jurassic Park because things shown in them can happen,” he says. 

Karwaan was an appealing film for him due to its unique premise. “Everything was as real as something happening to you,” he explains.

“The emotional turmoil within my character and when he receives the wrong body because of a logistical error fascinated me. I also loved the three main characters, who are poles apart — me, an unhappy number-cruncher, Irrfan as Shauqat, an eccentric and a judgmental character, and Mithila Palkar as Tanya.”

He goes on, “In fact, one of the key reasons why I took up the film was Irrfan Khan — he’s someone who not only has a great fan following but also has an assurance of quality in the work he chooses and does. He does his homework and that makes it easier for his co-stars.”

Dulquer is very happy that Irrfan recently watched the completed film in London and liked it.

“It is always nice to have his take on it.” How was his bonding with Irrfan? “Amazing!” he notes. “He is a genuine, warm and funny guy, well-read and informed. He always wants to know more about cinema, politics and so on.”

We’ve heard that Dulquer is not enamoured with stardom and prefers to be known as an actor. As Mammootty’s son, what gives him these reservations?

“Stardom is fickle,” he says. “I don’t believe in it, for you are only as good as your last Friday. If I ever give a fabulous performance in a flop film, I will not be noticed. On the other hand, if I star in a bad film, I cannot offer a guarantee that it will make money. Either way, the situation will remain only till my next release comes along. That kind of stardom does happen, but it is very rare and it takes a while. As an actor, I just have to work harder on my choices and I learn later whether they were good or bad.”

Does success or failure affect him then? “Only till Monday,” he laughs. “If my film works, there is mainly a sense of relief. On the other hand, I cannot afford to be depressed beyond Monday because I’ve to keep working.”

Why has he never used his father’s name, as is the tradition in South Indian cinema? “I am not entitled to his name just because I am his son,” he says. “My father does not like that either, and even in school, I never used his name.”

Writing and directing are two goals for Dulquer. However, he wants to explore the many acting opportunities he is getting now. And, about getting involved in the future with writing and filmmaking, “already fleshed out in my head,” he says.

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Not here for stardom...

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