It’s Dulquer’s Day! And I am feeling fuzzy headed and funky and not up for sugar coating things. I don’t have a great relationship with him, so this is going to be a rough birthday greeting. Sorry Dulquer! I hope this doesn’t ruin your day!
Dulquer! The luckiest man alive! There was a line I read once about Gwyneth Paltrow which also applies to Dulquer, “Born on third and thinks she made a home run”. Dulquer absolutely earned on his own that last little bit of a run between third and home base, but boy did he do nothing to round the first 3 bases (BASEBALL!).
Dulquer’s father is Mammootty, one of the top two actors in Malayalam film. He is the king in Malayalam, but also earned reciprocal respect from all the Indian industries. He worked in Tamil a lot, Telugu a little, and even did some respected cameos in Hindi films. Oh, and English! Mammootty isn’t rich-rich like some of the other stars, but he is very well off. He sent his son to good local schools, and then sent him overseas to Purdue University for a bachelors in Business Management. Now, Purdue is a good school. My grandparents went to Purdue and bleed Old Gold and Black forever. But Business Management is not exactly the most challenging degree you can get there. Good on Dulquer for getting a degree from a good school, not so good for picking one of the easiest majors. Also, not so good for following up that degree with working in “business” in Dubai? That’s hardly challenging yourself, as Mammootty’s son, and as an upper middle-class Malayalam kid with an American business degree, you can just stroll into that kind of job. Good on Dulquer for getting married to a woman he seems to love a lot, but not exactly challenging himself since she seems to also be an arranged bride? And good on Dulquer for giving up business and deciding to try acting, but again not exactly challenging since he did a 3 month acting class and then was given his first role immediately?
He got his first job in an ensemble movie, that was a good decision on his part. And his next film was a coming of age story, a young man making mistakes and finding himself, and he had great screen presence and did a very good job with it. Film after that, comedy movie, good concept for a film, Dulquer noticeably struggled with the role but it still did well. He worked really hard during these years, multiple films, most of them forgettable, but a few gems. Two years of hard work, and then 2015 was his break out year, his first Tamil film OK Kanmani which made a national splash. And Charlie which brought him to a new level in the Malayalam industry. Next year saw him take a risk and challenge himself hard with the epic film Kamattipaadam. 2017, another Tamil film, in which he was the only shared actor between 4 stories, absolute critical bait. 2018, his first Telugu film, epic historical movie, massive budget, guaranteed hit. Same year, his first Hindi film, small budget art film with Irrfan Khan playing second string to him. 2019, his second Hindi film, happy rom-com lead. And now, 2020.
When people are born on third, there is this sense of “I worked hard so I deserve what I got”. But the thing is, a lot of people work hard, and they don’t get what they deserve for it. In the real world, there is an uncertainty factor. It’s not just the hard work, it’s living with the constant terrifying possibility of failure. And I don’t think Dulquer has ever experienced that. If he did the work in high school, he got to go to an overseas school. If he did the work in his overseas college, he got his pick of a good Dubai job. If he decided he wanted to be an actor, he had to work steadily for 2 years and then was basically guaranteed a break out role in Malayalam. Another year, and he could cross over to Tamil. Another year, and it was time to stroll into national fame. Yes, he worked for everything he got. But everyone works, that’s kind of the basic requirement. Doing the work isn’t hard. What’s hard is to do the work while also constantly second guessing your decisions, trying to adjust your future plans as things go wrong, laying awake nights thinking about money and responsibilities and if this was all a big mistake, and the massive energy drain from fear of failure. And I don’t think Dulquer ever experienced that.
So, Happy Birthday Dulquer! I respect you as an actor for a few roles you did, and you seem like a generally decent person. But I can’t love you, not really. Not until you risk something real all on your own with no safety nets, the way everyone else in the world has to.