A silent debut, a classic boy next door look and a few exceptional choices of roles later, ‘Kunjikka’, as Dulquer Salmaan is fondly known among his fans in Kerala, has an appeal that cuts across borders. On the star’s 34th birthday, here’s a look at some scenes from his earlier films where he might seem to be playing everyday characters, but which defined his career in the early stages.
The free spirit in Charlie
‘Sambavam Colour ayeela?’ is the first thing Charlie (Dulquer Salmaan) tells Tessa when she finally manages to track him down at the teaming Thrissur Pooram grounds where she spots him performing a magic trick. While he’s clad in Bohemian prints through most of the movie, in the last scene, he is in a white kurta, but surrounded by colour. Much like Tessa, this scene towards the climax is the first time the audience also sees Charlie in the present instead of as part of someone else’s narrative. We may all know someone like Charlie in our lives, maybe not someone as mysterious and elusive as they’ve tried to portray Charlie, but surely someone whose smile makes you wonder how they are without a worry in the world.
The fly on the wall in 5 Sundarikal
Kullante Bharya in 5 Sundarikal, where Dulquer Salmaan plays an unnamed, disabled man who sees the world through his window is an often overlooked gem from among his performances. In the scene where ‘kullan’ and his wife arrive in the neighbourhood on a rainy Sunday morning, he sits with a cup of tea near the window that overlooks the street. His shirt unbuttoned, an ashtray resting on the windowsill, he watches as the others living on his street wait to catch a glimpse of the new tenants. The unnamed spectator by the window watches the new couple with amusement and an interest void of bitter intent, and this is a sharp contrast to the looks the other neighbours are spotted giving them. Although he delivers no dialogue and only narrates through the 27-minute-odd story directed by Amal Neerad, Dulquer Salmaan manages to leave an impression.
The Best Friend in Kammatipaadam
Krishna (Dulquer Salmaan) in Kammatipaadam was a stark contrast to the affluent, modish youngster roles that Dulquer Salmaan was known for. In the scene where he catches up with his best friends after being released from prison, Dulquer Salmaan manages to effortlessly get in Krishnan’s skin and blend in with the milieu of Kammatipaadam. As he hugs each friend tightly, quipping ‘Have you grown fat?’, the camaraderie is unmissable. It is easy to picture him as your childhood best friend.
The charmer at the wedding in OK Kanmani
In OK Kanmani, Dulquer Salmaan was right within the fence of his comfort zone, playing the cutesy, technophile millennial. In the meet-cute at the church, where Aadhi (Dulquer) and Tara (Nithya Menen) see each other for the second time, this time properly, they try to talk to each other in gestures as a wedding starts around them. Sitting in the same row, Aadhi leans forward so he can see Tara better. He then asks for her number and she gives it to him – all in gestures. This scene is in essence, what single people hope happens at the countless weddings they attend. The popularity of this Mani Ratnam movie, which saw Nithya Menon and Dulquer Salmaan share screen space for the second time, cut across languages and borders.
The Comrade in CIA
This intro scene from Comrade In America (CIA) quickly gained mass appeal after the film’s release. Spanning an entire three-minute track, this intro scene shows Dulquer make an entry with a red Che Guevara scarf tied around his face in typical protestor fashion, and a petrol bomb clasped in his hand, waiting to be launched at police present at the scene. Red hues are also seen on a wall he walks past, where the title of the film is shown.
After he throws the petrol bomb to create a line of fire between the police and his injured comrades, he picks up the Communist flag and waves it about. More comrades, including Dileesh Pothan and Soubin Shahir join him and the police are simply bystanders.