After the super-success of Mahanati, Dulquer Salmaan is now part of another Telugu film, Sita Ramam. He talks about his decade in the film industry, what pan-India means to him, about actors from the south doing well in Hindi, about Sita Ramam, and his role as Lt. Ram in the war drama directed by Hanu Raghavapudi.
HOW CHALLENGING IT WAS TO PLAY LT. RAM IN SITA RAMAM
“I think the most challenging part was shooting in Kashmir in the freezing temperatures, and that too, during the pandemic. I am much older than Ram (smiles) and my real life was very different from his. So I had to unlearn a lot of things for the part. But when I heard the story, I felt it was something that needed to be told,” says the actor.
ON TRAINING FOR THE PART
An Army officer who was present on the set throughout the film, trained the actors in holding a gun, adopting the right postures, etc. In the process, Dulquer says he came to learn more about a soldier’s life, and the sacrifices they have to make. SHOOTING IN HYDERABAD Dulquer has been frequenting Hyderabad as he has been doing more Telugu films. He describes the city as ‘magical land’ with a ‘mystique charm.’ “At school, I studied about the Mughal Empire and the Nizams. We shot Sita Ramam at King Koti Palace. When I learnt that it was the royal residence of the last Nizam of Hyderabad, I was thrilled,” says the actor. “If you had asked me 10 years ago whether I would do a Telugu film, I would not have seen it happening. People advise against juggling multiple industries but I am following my heart and enjoying it,” he reveals. Dulquer has a diverse set of films lined up in Malayalam and Tamil, apart from a Hindi film, Chup: Revenge Of The Artist.
ON STARS FROM THE SOUTH, LIKE HIM, YASH, ALLU ARJUN, DHANUSH, ETC., CURRENTLY RULING THE ROOST
“I feel the current generation of actors are gaining from their life experiences. Everyone is seeking experiences — be it travelling or dancing. I resonate with that,” he says, adding that as an actor, his willingness to explore and experiment has been very rewarding. “I have worked with amazing filmmakers in, and I look forward to collaborating with more storytellers. I am fortunate to have worked with Mani Ratnam Sir for O Kadhal Kanmani.”
TYPE OF ROLES HE PLANS TO PLAY
Dulquer says he will go easy on films belonging to the ‘romantic’ genre. The audience has seen him as a romantic hero for a long time, and he wants to break that image. Also, “Am I not getting older?” he asks with a smile. “I want to move away from the type of films I do, and work on more mature stories.” He says while it is important to be challenged as an actor and learn new skills, it is equally important to unlearn skills, to discover one’s hidden side. “And that’s exactly what I did in Sita Ramam,” he beams. “Doing out-of-the-box roles is something that isn’t in my hands because I can only choose from what I get. But I always make an effort to look for different roles and surprise the audience with every film,” he shares.
HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH THE MALAYALAM MOVIE AUDIENCE
Dulquer may have done films in multiple languages but he feels a certain responsibility towards his core audience (Malayalam) who he loves the most. “Because that’s where I belong and that’s where I originally got the acceptance from. Historically, actors like to explore new opportunities, and stars like Chiranjeevi Sir, Nag Sir, Rajinikanth Sir did it over the years by doing films in Hindi; but at the end of the day it’s their core audience who they love the most,” explains the actor.
THE CURRENT CRAZE FOR PAN-INDIAN FILMS
While ‘Pan India’ seems to be the new buzzword in the film industry, Dulquer feels the term is being ‘overused’. “Didn’t films of stars like Amitabh Sir, Rajini Sir, Chiru Sir and Nag Sir transcended boundaries long ago? I don’t see this (Pan India) as a new concept,” he says. “When people across the country open up to a film’s success, we can truly become one industry (Indian cinema). I think that’s a positive change and the common love for cinema will be celebrated,” he believes.
ON THE CHANGED TASTES OF AUDIENCES AFTER THE PANDEMIC
“Audiences have always appreciated good content and they continue to do so. Perhaps they might have become more rational in their approach and that could be due to exposure to world cinema they have seen during the lockdowns,” he says, adding that such developments also challenge actors and filmmakers to be inventive.
DID HIS SUPERSTAR FATHER MAMMOOTTY INFLUENCE HIS CAREER?
“I worked to have my own identity,” Dulquer says. “I am fortunate to have had the time to absorb so many things and observe several actors and make my choices. I have learnt my Do’s and Don’ts and realised that it’s important for me to have my own identity.