Dulquer Salmaan, whose film Chup: Revenge Of The Artist is currently in theatres, recently spoke to financialexpress.com’s Eshita Bhargava about how he got into the skin of the character, working with R Balki, being Mammoothy’s son, and Bollywood vs South films debate. Excerpts from the interview:
How are you absorbing all the love and appreciation you’ve been receiving?
I am very grateful. I think the joy is that you know, people are finding their happiness after watching Chup: Revenge Of The Artist. The film can bring some joy to their lives and they are going back home owning the film. I think that’s the biggest happiness. I am grateful.
What made you say yes to the script and what attracted you to Danny?
Danny is not an easy character. It stood out from anything I’ve done before. Also, the stuff that comes my way isn’t usually like this. I have a certain image that filmmakers tap into and so they always offer me kind of similar stuff. R Balki sir was on my bucket list for a while now. He believed in me and thought I can play Danny. Such characters don’t come to you easily. I am blessed. As actors, we like to push our limits and explore newer genres and sides. I was instantly attracted to the idea and wanted to be a part of Chup.
How was it working with R Balki?
He is a positive and enthusiastic filmmaker. He keeps in good mood on the sets. He’ll praise you if you’d give a good shot, or would give his constructive opinion on how to improve a scene. As actors, we feel appreciated and comfortable around him. He allows his actors to improvise and explore a character.
How has the process of getting into the skin of the character evolved over the years? Especially for a character like Danny.
It’s hard to find a pattern in how I get into the skin of a character. In this film, R Balki sir helped me to bring out the character. A lot of the time, your director’s vision is enough to understand a role. Danny was tough in that sense – not just because of its dark side but also because of the prosthetics used in the film. R Balki sir ensures to make things lighter after a difficult scene. These scenes drain us mentally but we have to deal with it. After all, it’s just a character and not a reality. There are days in between the intense scenes when I don’t feel like meeting people. I concentrate on my preparations, dialogues, and performance.
It’s been 10 years. Tell us how Dulquer Salmaan has evolved.
I’ve always had doubts but nothing can predict where our careers will take us and how will life unfold. I was not sure how the audience will receive me as an actor. So, when I look back, I feel like it’s been absolutely beautiful and organic. Anyone retracing my filmography will understand that the journey has been nice. I’ve received love from all industries and I’ve grown as an actor. I am more confident as a performer and have found my niche. My audience relates to my work and that’s a blessing.
Although you have forayed into the Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi film industries, you started in Malayalam cinema. Why did you choose to start in the very industry where your dad is one of the biggest superstars, and would there be comparisons?
It would have been lesser pressure on me if it was another language but I work better under pressure. I wanted to start with the biggest challenge and that has helped me. All the work I have got is because of the films I’ve done in Malayalam cinema. Again, it was an organic process – There was no proper plan. I didn’t know if this would work out for me, whether I would get the next film, or even, where I would be by the end of that year. I took it one film at a time. Also, whatever I am today is because of my father. I owe this to the Malayalam industry. I feel pressure pushes me to work harder.
Since the lockdown, Malayalam cinema has found a pan-Indian audience. What are the reasons?
It’s beautiful to see that language is no longer a barrier but I hope it doesn’t impact the way we continue to make films for cinemas. As an industry, we just want to tell stories we believe in. People like watching films that are rooted in the culture and are content-driven. Our audience is used to the quality cinema right from the ’80s. We focus on quicker formats and try to wrap up films in 35/40 days. So, the cinema is topical. Catering to a national audience doesn’t mean you have to go away from your roots.
You know of late, not many Hindi films were able to do well but films from the South have done fairly well. What is your take on Bollywood vs Southern films debate? And what do you think are the reasons behind it.
It’s kind of strange – It’s not that all films down South have worked well at the box office. Some of the biggest films have not worked even in the South. It’s about the time when the film is released. The need of the audience is evolving and we need to consider that while making films. I don’t think that’s specific to an industry. It’s equally hard for us to bring people back to the cinema. I am not sure why this debate has started but films not working has nothing to do with the industry.