Actor Dulquer Salmaan says he is puzzled by the rampant use of the term pan-India for movies as one can’t design a film that works on a national level but resonates with a wider audience organically.
Filmmaker SS Rajamouli’s two-part action-fantasy series Baahubali, released between 2015 and 2017, is often credited for bridging the gap between the North and South film industries.
Since then, the word pan-India gained momentum after movies of South stars like Vijay’s Master and Allu Arjun’s Pushpa set new box office records in Hindi regions.
“The word pan-India really irks me. I just don’t like hearing it. I love that there is so much exchange of talent happening in cinema, it’s great, but we are one country. I don’t think anyone says pan-America. I don’t get it, even though they say it sweetly,” the 35-year-old actor told PTI.
Dulquer Salmaan, the star of films like O Kadhal Kanmani, Bangalore Days, Hey Sinamika and Kurup, said the movies that have travelled across India are the ones which were essentially made for one market.
If one designs their project to cater to all, the actor believes the film “won’t belong anywhere”.
“You can’t engineer a pan-India film. Those films that have actually travelled across India are the ones which were rooted and made for one market. If you try to do a ‘pan-India’ film, try to appeal to all audiences for different markets, it will not belong anywhere.
“So, you make your film as rooted as it can be, tell the story of that land and mount it bigger, cast it differently and maybe put in a few familiar faces from different markets. I get all of that but I don’t think you should lose the sensibilities or the culture of that particular story”.
Salmaan stars in the Malayalam police procedural drama Salute, currently streaming on SonyLIV. The film is directed by Rosshan Andrews and penned by writer-duo Bobby and Sanjay.
The film features the actor as a cop for the first time.
Salmaan said he was in talks with the director and the writers for a long time to collaborate on a project but never connected with any script as much as he did with “Salute”.
The film cuts between the past and the present-day scenario, where, a once committed sub inspector, played by Salmaan, is looking for a shot at redemption after a fall.
“I am not drawn to the typical masala cop movies. Sometimes I feel I am weird because I don’t do a lot more masala, mainstream stuff like that. But I loved this character of Aravind. He is conflicted, he loves his family but also has his own principles. He wants to do the right thing but the system isn’t letting him,” he added.
Salmaan has also backed the movie under his production banner Wayfarer Films, which he launched in 2020.
The actor, who is the son of Malayalam superstar Mammootty, said production gives him more control of his films, right from the budget to ensuring they get a good release.
“Before I became an actor, my dad had produced a few films but they hadn’t really worked. We had some luck in producing TV content but not exactly films. The landscape was also different then. Now, there are so many outlets, satelites, OTTs, the markets have grown. Now you can mount a film and land safely.
“But I wanted to produce because I have seen many times that there have been issues with producers on my films, sometimes there are delays, sometimes the releases are not good, marketing isn’t good. So I want to be there for my films, from start to finish,” he added.
Salute also marks the Malayalam debut of Diana Penty.