Dulquer Salmaan awaits the theatrical release of 'Sita Ramam' on August 5. In this interview, the Mollywood superstar talks about how director Hanu Raghavapudi has etched his character, the experience of filming for the period romantic drama, his journey in Tollywood so far, and more.
The film co-stars Mrunal Thakur, Rashmika Mandanna, Murali Sharma, Sumanth, Bhumika Chawla, Gautham Menon, Tharun Bhascker, and others.
What attracted me to 'Sita Ramam' is that it's a very original script. People are not writing stories of this sort anymore. I also love the idea that it's a period film. The screenplay is totally unpredictable. What you have seen in the trailer is just a glimpse of the story.
I have played an orphaned Army officer. He is a jovial and positive soul. He is not bitter. When it comes to his duty, he is very patriotic. As an actor, I have to work within the confines of my character. I don't want people to find my acting predictable.
Producer C Ashwini Dutt garu is my favorite person. He is like family. He is so positive and loving. The production house feels personal. They look after me very well! Since it is a Vyjayanthi Movies, I knew the story would be special.
As I am getting older, I want to do some kind of mature love stories. Any film that I do, I want to be original. The audience, too, want something fresh always.
'Sita Ramam' has got a phenomenal album. Music is something that happened magically. No actor knows how the music turns out to be at the time of signing the film. 'Kaanunna Kalyanam', which was shot in Kashmir, is so picturesque. Doing Kathak in a song set in the backdrop of Kashmir is a novel idea. The music has a value of callback to the 1980s era of music. Even the BGM is superb! (There are four full-fledged songs in the movie, while the rest are montages).
Sita Mahalakshmi, played by Mrunal Thakur, has a touch of a classic vibe. Nobody could have done the role as phenomenally as she has. She is an energetic, happy soul. She is very expressive and dedicated.
I can't reveal whether 'Sita Ramam' is a triangular love story.
My movies have always struck a balance between realism and commercialism. A film can't be too realistic for a theatrical watch. 'Mahanati' and 'Sita Ramam' are both believable and cinematic. In Mollywood, actors do so many movies every year. In the olden days, actors used to do 30 movies in a year. Compared to others, I haven't done many movies.
I go with my guts. I want my line-up to be orderly. I do get action scripts as well. I have learned to enjoy my own company. I have been working in multiple industries.
I don't see an article/interview without the term 'Pan-Indian' being mentioned. As children, we all watched the movies starring Rajinikanth, Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan. I don't know why there is a sudden obsession with the term 'Pan-Indian'. If something is repeated too often, you grow tired of it (the word). Instead of saying 'Pan-Indian' and other such tags, let's just call a film a film.
Once you are an actor, you get less time to watch movies. That's a funny thing. I accepted 'Sita Ramam' because I loved the script. I hadn't watched any of director Hanu's previous movies. I just trusted his sensibility. I don't have to gauge a director's talent based on his previous movies. Once the trailer came out, the audiences' perception of our movie changed completely. They found Rashmika's character intriguing.
Audiences across languages are watching others' movies. I loved 'Ala Vaikunthapurramulo'. There are three kids in our family, including my daughter. They watch movies from different languages. Audiences have been consuming good cinema without minding language barriers. I have been noticing this since the time I began my career. In 2011, three boys came to me at an awards function in Hyderabad. They told me they had watched a Malayalam movie of mine and that they loved it. I was amazed that people were watching good films from other languages.
I couldn't participate in the success celebrations of 'Mahanati' because I had injured myself at that time. I had no idea how much people liked me in that film. These days, I am getting to have a sense of it.
I went to a business school. If not an actor, I might have been into investing and stuff (laughs). I grew up with children from business families.
My father has always been my hero, my idol. How he conducts himself, how he talks with people... I always learned watching him. I can't ever criticize him. I just can't find faults with him. My mother gives honest feedback to him.
The biggest advantage we have in Mollywood is that we make films at a pretty fast pace. We can adapt to the audience's tastes faster. If a film of a genre works this Friday, we immediately take lessons from the film and work on it. It's not like we make only realistic movies. There are also event films and spectacle projects there. We can't eat Thali every day, we would want to eat Biryani sometimes.