Dulquer Salmaan traverses multiple language cinema from Sita Ramam to Chup

Dulquer Salmaan and Shreya Dhanwantary in Chup. Photo: R. Balki 

He quips that he enjoys looking at doing non-Malayalam (his mother-tongue) films more as there is no pressure to deliver numbers.  Yes, Dulquer Salmaan has always designed his career to be a multi-lingual star. In Hindi, he began his career with Karwaan, a lovely film that did not do business as expected, followed by another box-office mismatch, The Zoya Factor.

His latest movie, Chup, is scheduled for release this week. And Dulquer is in a great mood when we meet for a chat. Excerpts from an interview follow.

The film’s tagline is ‘Revenge of the Artist’. In a Sunny Deol film, we expect him to carryout vendetta! So is it you or him? Who is the artist?

(Smiles) I am not going to reveal that! You have to watch the film!

And there is a Guru Dutt connection. How familiar are you with his films and songs?

My parents listen to lots of classic music across regions. I love to drive and while driving from Kerala to Chennai, my father puts on even classic Hindi songs. As for Guru Dutt’s films, I have not visited them so much. I did watch Kaagaz Ke Phool, genuinely loved watching it, so I would like to see all his films, though that’s a bit tricky for time-wise. Also, at home, my five year-old decides what we watch, and I have to wait until she goes to bed to see what I want to watch! (Smiles)

Do you also understand the lyrics, as your director, R. Balki, stated recently that you speak Hindi as if it is your mother-tongue?

It is so nice of Balki-sir to say that about me! Of course, I am curious about lyrics in any language right from childhood. I am generally challenged to understand poetry, but it is easier to see and enjoy songs, and experience how lyricists put words to a tune. Also, I grew up in Chennai, so Hindi, which was also my second language in school, was never alien to me. I had a group of friends who all spoke Hindi.

Something about your three principal co-stars, please.

They are all wonderful. When shooting, we are all busy focusing on our scenes and lines, but during promotions, it’s a riot!

I have been a huge fan of Sunny Deol and I am star-struck whenever I see any childhood idols in person. But Pooja (Bhatt) ma’am and he were so warm, so accommodating, they gave me space, encouragement—they are very secure and immensely talented. Sunny is the sweetest, most calm, soft-spoken guy with a lovely aura, who wants to do different work and be a part of good cinema now. I remember watching his Border or Gadar—Ek Prem Katha and enjoying them but not liking his romantic Dillagi! (Grins)

Pooja ma’am has great energy, and gives amazing, magical tips that gets your brain working! As for Shreya, she’s super-intelligent and super-talented!

How do you react to the success of another recent film, Sita Ramam?

Its success helps me get motivated to choose better things, different roles, not do only one thing. When I heard the script, I thought it was classic love saga, but in so many films, you are scared how it will turn out. But all along, it felt as if we were making something very special!

When I sign a film on the basis of its script, I don’t know who else is in the cast, who are the technicians, what will the music be like, even the film’s title. They all become amazing additions later on! But in this case, I had this weird belief that it would be special, and now its huge success is something magical that always happens when everything comes in favor—from the release date to the music. And every film has its own destiny no matter what we plan. I love the fact that people are calling me by my character’s name and even suggesting that I should use it as my middle name!

The emotional connect is big, like there was this girl who was married very young to an army officer who has now been termed a deserter, but she is waiting for him! Kids in Hyderabad were hunting Google to check what they heard was among the best films of recent times! That is the power of great cinema—people will seek it out!

Like, in the past, there was this phase when I was constantly getting messages from Turkey. My Charlie got a great market in Japan. Sita Ramam has got new viewers for my filmography, which is delightful as I have been passionate about cinema even before I became an actor!

So what is more important—the box-office or critics’ views?

I think the first of these reflects joy from the audience, a film’s reach.

How do you assess non-Malayalam films that you do?

In Malayalam, I have the most pressure for a big opening, and numbers. Some of my decisions have to be based on that! But in Tamil and Hindi I can do anything. Honestly, I would like to be known more as an actor than a star!

Arising from that, with social media turning everyone into a critic, how important is film reviewing for you?

I think it is even more relevant now! You see, films are the easiest art form to critique because a person need not attend film appreciation class to do that. Critiquing painting or poetry et cetera actually takes study. So that’s why it is more important to write a balanced review and help us all improve. There should be kind words, and a responsibility.

There may be, for example, someone who does not like me just because I am Mammootty’s son, or dislikes me as an actor, but just for that, he should not dislike my film. And I do not understand ratings like 3.44 or 2.78!

And how do you assess yourself?

Frankly, I have a lot more faith in my writers and filmmakers than in myself. I am that person who will ignore the 100 good things written about me and focus on the three bad things. I derive some kind of drive from there, as most critics and haters drive me to push myself!







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