Second Show isn’t a film for the squeamish. Its strength is its raw, gritty feel, digging deep into the innards of the underworld. Devoid of frills and the usual choreographed set-pieces, much of it is shot with a hand-held camera. It’s no dream role too—petty thug with awkward gait who doesn’t even get the girl. Hardly blockbuster material, you’d say. It’s the sort of grungy, new wave film where you might encounter a 25-year-old newcomer. But wait, what if he happens to be the son of Malayalam cinema’s evergreen superstar Mammootty? Well, Dulquar Salman has chosen just this small and inventive film for his big screen baptism. Made by a crew of newcomers, with popular band Avial’s music and helmed by 26-year-old Srinath Rajendran, Second Show released last month and could well be Mollywood’s first sleeper hit of 2012.
There’s grudging admiration for the route he’s adopted even from the mainstream. Director Siddique (of Bodyguard fame, and as mainstream as you get) finds it commendable that Dulquar did not look for backing from the big names in the industry, including his father. “He chose a low-key launch when he could have easily had it otherwise,” he says. But why such an unconventional launch pad? “I followed my instincts,” shrugs Dulquar. “Films with romance, dance, fights, everything packaged together, have never quite appealed to me.”
Quite heretic, that. But maybe it fits with a youngster who spent time doing business management from Purdue University and looking after the family business in healthcare and IT before taking the plunge into showbiz. It was no sudden, impetuous decision. Dulquar had been offered roles earlier but he chose to bide his time, study the various aspects of filmmaking, even make a clutch of short films, before diving in. “I didn’t want to regret it later,” he says.
What’s got everyone talking is that there is no “Mammootty hangover” in Junior. Malayalis have watched Mammootty, 61, for over three decades now, in 360-plus films, and can rightly claim to know each of his copyrighted mannerisms. Cameras have focused on him flatteringly—lingering on his smirk, his laugh, the way he brushes his moustache, the way he folds his mundu high above his knees as he readies for a fight. But if the evidence is to be believed, son Dulquar is cut from a completely different mundu. In Second Show, he plays Lalu, a school dropout who finds illegal sand mining a perfect substitute for night classes. From transporting sand in the dead of night, Lalu and his friend Kurudi soon become goons for car financiers and inevitably gravitate towards more serious stuff like drug trafficking.
If it’s the raw, unpolished look the filmmakers were aiming at, they’ve hit it dead centre, and the debutant looks a natural. Dulquar says he “connected with the character even though he is the exact opposite of me. I loved the treatment.” Director Siddique is all praise, “His performance was very natural. He’s got great screen presence and was comfortable in the role, which is what you are looking for in a newcomer.” Second Show director Srinath Rajendran credits Dulquar for supporting the “experimental film”. “We tried to tell the story differently. It was easy to work with Dulquar for he didn’t come with any preconceived notions of how to act and was open to ideas,” he says.
So what after Second Show? Dulquar, now on the sets of his second film Ustad Hotel, claims he doesn’t have a five-year plan in place to further his career. “I want to play it by ear, not worry about where it’s all going,” he says, “I’ll be happy if I can find a tiny place for myself here.” That he seems to have already.