Keeping up with Dulquer Salmaan

Four roles in a bilingual, his first Bollywood film, and a Telugu Gemini Ganesan biopic – there is no stopping Kerala’s young hero

Updated - September 23, 2017 11:55 am IST

Published - September 22, 2017 06:22 pm IST

Dulquer Salmaan

Dulquer Salmaan

When Bejoy Nambiar told Dulquer Salmaan to go solo in his anthology, the actor never imagined it would be such an arduous affair. “It was like shooting eight different films. Never have I done such a physically demanding assignment,” admits the actor about his film Solo , a bi-lingual in Malayalam and Tamil that releases on October 6. DQ, as Dulquer is popularly known, is gung-ho about the movie that has him enacting four different characters.

“It has been made on a lavish scale and each story was shot with different technicians and cast. Bejoy and I are the only common factor in the four films,” laughs Dulquer, Malayalam star Mammootty’s younger son.

Verstile filmography

Since DQ’s debut in 2012 in the action flick Second Show , the 31-year-old post-graduate in Business Management has been consistently raising the bar with cherry-picked roles that showcase his versatility as an actor. Working with veterans, rank newcomers and young Turks in Malayalam cinema, has given DQ a feel for different genres.

A still from Dulquer Salmaan's Solo.

A still from Dulquer Salmaan's Solo.

If Anwar Rasheed’s Ustad Hotel gave him his big commercial break, movies like the award-winning Charlie and Kammatipadam headlined him as an actor of substance, while box office biggies like ABCD , Bangalore Days , Kali , Vikramadithyan , Joemonte Suvisheshangal and CIA added muscle to his filmography.

According to Amal Neerad, who helmed Comrade in America (CIA), DQ’s big hit of 2017, what’s unique about the actor is that while he has strong roots and is down to earth, his upbringing, education, exposure and outlook have given him the ability to get into the skin of practically any character.

The filmmaker believes that DQ is on the cusp of a new chapter in his career as he makes his way to Bollywood with Kaarwaan and debuts in Telugu cinema with Mahanati .

Ready for Bollywood

Directed by debutant Akarsh Khurana, Karwaan has DQ in the company of Irrfan Khan and Mithila Palkar. “I am in safe hands, aren’t I,” he parries when asked about working with Irrfan Khan. Produced by Ronnie Screwwala, the film is reportedly a road movie that will also be shot in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Simultaneously, he will be essaying the role of the legendary Gemini Ganesan, who was married to actor Savitri, in Mahanati , a biopic on the leading lady. Were there any special preparations to step into the shoes of Kaathal Mannan, as Gemini Ganesan was known?

“Well, I am not making an attempt to look like him but, as far as I see it, I would be playing a superstar in the Fifties, an actor who was educated and well-read and came from a well-to-do, cultured family. What went into the making of his image as we know it today and what was his work like? He had his share of battles to fight to find his space in cinema. That is what I hope to highlight in the film directed by Nag Ashwin. I loved Ashwin’s approach to the film,” elaborates DQ.

Shiva’s many faces

As of now, DQ is waiting to see the kind of reception Rudra, Siva, Shekhar and Trilok, his roles in Solo , will get at the box office.

When the makers released a teaser of Rudra as an appetiser, it sent social media into a tizzy. Not surprising, since the affable actor has a phenomenal following on Facebook (5 lakh and counting), Instagram (10 lakh plus) and Twitter, and is the favourite of every millennial movie fan in South India.

“This time around, the trailers were a little more revealing about the character than usual,” says the youngster, who has been actively promoting it on social media.

When it was the turn of Shekhar, with the grunge look, to say hello to curious viewers, Dulquer introduced him thus on his page: “And now welcome to the World of Sh Sh Sh Sh Shekhar !!!!”

It is evident that Shekhar, a musician, has a stammer. Rudra is an army man while Shiva is a gangster. Trilok? “Wait and watch…,” adds Dulquer.

Dulquer Salmaan

Dulquer Salmaan


Although DQ is right at home in bilinguals like Vaayai Moodi Pesavum , his first in Tamil and Malayalam (2014), and Mani Ratnam’s OK Kanmani (2016), the actor had said in a few interactions that he was not in favour of bilinguals.

However, he says that a film like Solo was exactly the kind of movie that would work well in both languages. “The reason I was hesitant about bilinguals is because certain themes are culture and context-specific and would not work, or perhaps it would stick out badly, when filmed in another language,” explains Dulquer.

For the love of cinema

Looking ahead, DQ confesses that his dream is to be a part of good Malayalam films and he points out his extended cameo in Soubin Shahir’s film Parava as an example.

“I wanted to be a part of this film as I really enjoyed the story. Moreover, it is set in Mattancherry, my mother’s hometown, that I love and know so well. So I asked Soubin if he could give me a role in the film and that’s when he told me that he did have a role meant for me. However, since, it was a cameo, he wasn’t sure if I would agree!”

DQ has also played a cameo in Annmariya Kalippilaanu. Next up in Malayalam cinema are Lal Jose’s Oru Bhayankara Kamukan and Srinath Rajendran’s Sukumara Kurup .

Like many of his contemporaries in Malayalam, does DQ plan on turning producer or director? “I have been carrying this idea in my head for some time, to produce small films with good content. That goes well with my plans to associate with good Malayalam movies. Some of the smaller films that are being made are big on imagination and creativity and I am looking forward to working with them to produce interesting cinema,” he says.

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