Six years and 25 films into his career, Dulquer Salmaan is gearing up for his fourth debut — this time in Bollywood. The actor has managed to carve a path for himself in every industry that he’s worked in. And though he’s the son of Malayalam superstar Mammootty, that’s not what he’s known for; he’s a star in his own right.
Talking about his upcoming release, Dulquer says, “I didn’t read the script of Karwaan thinking of it as my Bollywood debut. Even when I did my first Telugu film, Mahanati, I wasn’t looking at it as a debut. I analyse films irrespective of language. I liked Karwaan for its interesting yet realistic premise.”
The actor considers himself lucky to be making his debut for the fourth time. “Each new language opens new doors. Hindi was my second language in school so I didn’t have much trouble with it. But I’ve never had the chance to learn Telugu. I discovered Telugu while shooting for Mahanati and realised how expressive and beautiful it is,” he says.
The actor, who is in Hyderabad to promote his upcoming film, also had the opportunity to spend some quality time with his father. “Dad and I are staying in the same hotel, on the same floor. We briefly said ‘hi’ before he left for the day today, but we were able to catch up for dinner last night,” he says.
Mammootty made his Tamil debut alongside Amala Akkineni, and 28 years later, his son has had the opportunity to work with her in Karwaan. “Working with Amala was delightful. She worked with my father in his Tamil debut, and she would tell me anecdotes from that time, so there was a different kind of bonding between us. I am very close to (Naga) Chaitanya and Akhil, and even Rana. We all have a Chennai connection and common friends,” he says.
Dulquer reveals that growing up as the son of a superstar was a burden rather than a blessing. “My parents shielded my sister and me from the entertainment industry. We grew up in Chennai, and my school was filled with children from different parts of the country. They didn’t know about my father’s stardom. So I had a very normal childhood. I didn’t even consider movies as a career option back then,” he says, adding, “When I decided to be an actor, I put on a lot of undue pressure on myself because my father is known for his acting. Malayali audiences are very discerning, and not a lot of second-generation actors have made it. I wondered if they would like me enough to watch me on screen.”
And he’s definitely managed to make a name for himself. But has one complaint of the nature of his job — he doesn’t get to spend a lot of time at home. “I am stressed because I am not able to strike a balance. My daughter is just 14 months old. Last week, when I was shooting in Kochi, I had to leave before she woke up every day, and I only returned when she was already asleep. I try to take time off and holiday with her. But this is the age at which you get the best offers, and I’m really greedy, I want to do everything,” he says.
Years ago, Dulquer abandoned a promising corporate career in order to pursue acting, because he found corporate life to be monotonous. “I don’t think I would’ve been good at anything else. I am not a 9-to-5 kind of a person. Even if I did that kind of job, it would have to be something creative. I was doing a typical number-crunching job, and my life was monotonous. But being in this industry never feels like work. It is so dynamic and charged all the time,” he says.
Perhaps that’s what keeps his father going too. “Even after 35 years in this industry, my dad is excited as ever about his next movie. It makes me sit back and think if I’m equally excited about my next,” Dulquer says, admiringly.