Dulquer Salmaan has proved himself to be one of the finest Malayalam actors of the post-Mammootty generation. Coincidentally Mammootty happens to be Dulquer’s father. As this young forever-exploratory actor embarks on a career outside his home ground in Kerala, he speaks to Subhash K Jha on his aspirations and dreams.
Congratulations, your performance as the Tamil matinee idol Gemini Ganesan in Mahanati has caught a lot of attention?
We all knew we were doing something important, something very special. To tell the story of this Tamil-Telugu cinema’s legendary actress Savitri was something I believed in. This was a role away from my home territory in Kerala, hence an added challenge
Why do you look at Kerala as home ground? There is no regional cinema any longer?
Well, I’ve to agree that the demarcation lines are blurring. I won’t say there was a divide. But clearly Malayalam cinema has a narrower market than cinema in some other Indian languages. I was happy to expand into the Tamil market. And now into Telugu with Mahanati and into Hindi as well.
Have you spoken your own lines in Telugu?
Yes, I have. And it was far more difficult getting the Telugu dialogues than Tamil. I’ve been dubbing my own lines in Tamil for some time now. In Telugu I had to practise the words, understand and absorb what I am saying and then speak them in the dubbing. I would think I got them right. But I’d be told something was not right. I would wonder what was wrong. Still I’d do it again and again until it came out sounding right for the experts in the language.
Quite a task ?
Yes, but then that is the main criteria. I have for accepting a role. It has to offer me a challenge of some kind. Otherwise there is no point in doing a role. I would be very uncomfortable doing a safe part. It would make me think something is wrong.
You’ve chosen a career path very different from your father(the iconic Mammooty). Was that deliberate?
It had to be different from his. I couldn’t possibly do what he had already done. He has a larger-than-life image. It made no sense to walk in his footsteps. There is a nothing like a ‘born actor’. It’s all about honing the skills. Duplication never works for anybody. Why would it have worked for me? I chose my own path because that was the only way to go . At the same time I’ve to admit there was an advantage in being my fathers’s son. The debut film came much easier to me than it would have if I was an outsider.
Would you like to do a film with your father?
The thought has crossed the minds of many filmmakers. We’ve had quite a few offers to work together. But no. I don’t think that’s a good idea. The comparisons would be unacceptable to me. So unless it is something that offers a truly special challenge for us to come together it is unlikely that we will work together.
Do you and your father discuss each other’s roles at the dinner table?
I do talk to him about my work with him if I feel like. But nothing beyond the usual.We’d rather discuss other things when we are together.
How does your wife cope with all your female fan-following?
There is nothing there that is threatening or embarrassing. It’s all very sweet and harmless. No one has suddenly landed up at my home threatening to break my door down.
Do you get to spend enough time with your daughter?
She turned 1 on May 5.We don’t believe in having a large birthday party. In any case she is too small right now to respond to a party. So we had just a small family dinner and we took pictures in case some day she wants proof of her first day celebration.