The Dulquer Salmaan Interview: ‘The Six Pack Abs? It’s Not all Mine, but Some of it is’
The Malayalam film superstar whose second Bollywood film The Zoya Factor releases today talks to us!
There’s something incredibly endearing about Malayalam cinema’s much-loved Dulquer Salmaan, who is slowly, but steadily, making his mark across several film industries in India. In a career spanning seven years, with over nearly 25 films to his credit, he has worked his charm not only on his home turf, but even in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. And now he’s pitched his second Bollywood innings with Anuja Chauhan’s big screen adaptation of the much-loved The Zoya Factor alongside Sonam Kapoor that releases today.
In here, DQ will take on Nikhil Khoda as he leads his ‘men in blue’ in the hope of winning world cup glory by refusing to let lady luck steal his limelight.
While rom-coms would appear to demand very little from an actor of his calibre, especially after conquering a Hindi audience with his measured take on life, and love, in last year’s Karwaan, Dulquer reveals it’s cricket that drew him to the movie. “For every film, I find something that freaks me out. Here, it was cricket. I’m not a sportsman and I’ve only played recreational cricket. I had to take time off and train crazy hours so that I looked convincing.”
Unlike several online theories doing the rounds, DQ confesses he didn’t model Nikhil on any Indian cricketer because he doesn’t enjoy playing copycat. “I’m not a good mimic. Even when I played Gemini Ganeshan (in Mahanati) I didn’t want it to be a caricature. I wanted to interpret it my way.” But, he admits “the filmmakers have paid homage to our captains. My jersey number is seven. Even my styling has impressions of Virat (Kohli) and KL (Rahul).”
DQ’s efforts to ensure “the technique was convincing and authentic” however has been overshadowed by his “six-pack abs”. “That was written in because it’s funny…not because I’m objectify-able,” he quips, adding, “It’s such a small part but it’s funny how there’s so much discussion around it.”
What's more, DQ has no qualms in admitting that VFX helped perfect the look. “I can’t question people’s intelligence. They can tell what’s been done and what’s not. It’s not all mine, but some of it is.” And had he had the luxury of time, he would’ve given it his all to chisel out the perfect abs.
Much like his onscreen persona, Dulquer isn’t a believer in lucky charms but there’s a special affinity for the number 369 for his car fleet that caught our fancy. “I like the symmetry. The aesthetics of it,” he justifies, adding that it’s his father, the legendary Malayalam actor Mammootty’s signature style that he has now inherited. “It has nothing to do with luck,” he assures.
So, while DQ seems to have mastered the art of juggling between various Indian film industries, he’s yet to get his head around Bollywood’s promotion circus. “I’m constantly trying to come up with new things to say and just make it interesting,” he affirms. All the while, he also has to play dress-up with B-town’s much-celebrated fashionista Sonam Kapoor. A fashion move, he claims isn’t as taxing, only because he “loves clothes and loves being well turned out”. But if he had to choose, he’d pick a movie set over the promotion circuit.
Away from The Zoya Factor, Dulquer is busy with his production house which has already greenlighted the biopic of controversial figure Sukumara Kurup, with the stunning ‘Made in Heaven’-star Shobita Dhulipala in the lead. This would be his second production. Taking a cue from Brad Pitt, who put his money on 12 Years A Slave, DQ is hoping it’ll allow him to “back smaller films with great content” even if he can’t be a part of it.
Playing shades of grey
His filmography exposes his fondness for dark characters. “I think it takes a certain kind of courage to play grey in our films where heroes are fairly whitewashed.” But he’s also “sensible enough to know what is offensive or derogatory. I’m not going to glorify or normalise it. If they are bad, we must show them as bad.” In fact, DQ understands the trouble with movies like Kabir Singh, but as artists, he believes it’s important to play a variety of characters.
While trying to keep his father’s illustrious legacy untarnished, DQ says he has always picked movies responsibly so it leaves behind a legacy, his daughter is proud of. “I’ve always wanted my kids to be able to watch my movies with me or with their friends, and hopefully not cringe.”
Things he won’t do for a movie
Although DQ doesn’t have a contract much like Shah Rukh Khan, that specifies what he would or wouldn’t do for a film, he explains that all such decisions are considered “while hearing a narration” and never after the film goes on the floor.
Not just female fan club
Not many people know that Dulquer has an incredibly impressive male fan club that follows him in and out of his house. “The boys are super enthusiastic but it can get stressful as they are focused on getting a photograph that they ignore road rules.” Shift his attention to his female fan club, and DQ’s in denial. “I haven’t really seen it,” he laughs.
Social media exhaustion
Dulquer is a huge hit on social media where he has a massive following. In fact, he has even spoken about his fondness for Instagram but he is not obsessed with it. While he isn’t planning on following Aamir Khan’s social media strategy about restricting access to his star life for fear that “familiarity will breed contempt”, he claims he keeps it “sporadic”. “Even his daughter gets mentioned, but he’s careful as ‘she’s really precious’.”