On Being Referred To As ‘Handsome Like Mammootty’ In Ustad Hotel

This is something I never got actually. Growing up, they were like, “Really? Oh, you don’t look anything like your father!” That was the case all the time. Even when they wrote that line in the movie, I was asking the director, “Anwar (Rasheed), should we use that line? I don’t quite buy it. I don’t think they think that way..” Now I guess they’re okay with it and I think they find it nice to hear or whatever.

This is another reason that I didn’t know if I could make it as an actor. I always thought, “I don’t look anything as good as my father and I don’t know if I can perform like him.” He’s very obviously manly and obviously baritone. There’s just no one like him. He’s a man’s man and I’m more boyish. I remember kind of cringing when I heard that line for the first time. Even when I was watching (this scene in Ustaad Hotel), I facepalmed.

On Whether He Feels The Burden Of Being A Superstar’s Son

Less now. Because after this many movies, now when you talk about me, you say ‘Ustaad Hotel’ or ‘Bangalore Days’ or ‘Charlie’. You don’t immediately say ‘Mr. Mammootty’s son’. But the burden growing up was that I just didn’t want to fail in anything I do. Not just about being an actor. He’s always led by example. He’s got great integrity, lives by his principles. In so many ways, I just wanted to make sure I make him proud. And that’s kind of the thing with our entire family – nobody rose to heights like he did. It’s something everybody really looks up to. So I just had to live up to that.

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I think that’s helped me always try to do quality cinema, perform as well as I can, choose for the right reasons. Just generally my conduct and behaviour – things like that.

He was a very cool dad in that sense. He said, “Look, I’m not going to ask you to be the first in class. I’m not going to ask you to study hard. But I’m the best at what I’m doing – three National Awards. Whatever I do, I’m the best. So whatever you do, make sure you’re the best at it. I’m not going to tell you to do it. I’m just showing you how it’s done.

On Having A Different Last Name

I don’t even have his last name. My last name is Salmaan. Nobody in my family has that last name. He didn’t want us to be singled out in school. He didn’t want that attention. If I went to school in Kerala, it would inevitably have happened. But even in just reading my name, he didn’t want that identity to strike. Even now, he’s never gotten into any of my movies or promotions. Nothing. He’s like, “We’re two different actors.” If they ask him in an interview about me, he will say, “I don’t speak about other actors.” I think that’s really helped me in the sense that I have carved my own place, I think. And my own identity, if I can.

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