The movie, which marks Diana Penty's Mollywood debut, is directed by Rosshan Andrrews and scripted by Bobby and Sanjay
Dulquer Salmaan’s Salute is special for veteran actor Manoj K Jayan for several reasons. While it marks his second collaboration with the young superstar after Bejoy Nambiar’s Solo, it is the first time that he is working with director Rosshan Andrrews and scriptwriters Bobby and Sanjay – all three of whom he has known for over two decades.
Talking exclusively to OTTplay, Manoj, who plays Dulquer elder brother in the film, tells us, “I played a local don in Solo, but in Salute, it’s a diametrically different role of a police officer.” In his career, the actor has donned the khaki uniform for several roles in movies such as Phantom, Thattathin Marayathu and Praja. But his role in Salute is different, he says. “Ajith Karunakaran is an experienced and revered DySP, who leads the way in showing how an ideal police officer should be,” explains the actor.
The movie began shooting earlier this year during the pandemic. However, Dulquer, who is also producing the film, along with his team helped allay the fears of the artistes to a good extent, says Manoj. “It was an unbelievable experience shooting for the movie,” says the actor. “I can’t remember a space where I got so much care, comfort and respect in recent times. On the second or third day of shooting, the production house gave me a gift hamper. I heard they were giving it to everyone who was part of it, but I felt really happy because it was a new experience for me.”
Manoj, who has worked with Dulquer’s father Mammootty in several movies such as Big B and Kaazhcha, is all praise for the young actor. “Dulquer and his team were constantly looking after us. ‘Don’t make chettan wait on the sets if there’s no work,’ Dulquer kept saying; so those were the kind of things that mattered,” he says.
The actor also recounts an instance when both Dulquer and he completed work around the same time at 10pm. “Dulquer got changed and went first, and I followed in my car. He then slowed down and used the indicator to signal us to overtake him. It might be something minor, and he really didn’t have to do it. He finished the shoot late at night and could have rushed to his hotel; but there again he showed respect to let my car go ahead. These actions show the individual he is; a gem of a person,” says the Anandabhadram actor.
Manoj also explains that he was excited to work with Rosshan, whose career he has “been keenly following from Udayananu Thaaram”. “I have known Rosshan since he was an assistant director. He used to be extremely curious back then too as he would constantly ask me questions about how I did a particular scene. I had noticed his passion for learning cinema and becoming a director,” says the actor.
While Salute is their first collaboration, the duo was supposed to work in Evidam Swargamanu and Kayamkulam Kochunni, both of which didn’t work out due to Manoj’s scheduling conflicts. “He considers me a brother, more than an artiste. When he called me for Salute, I was in London and was supposed to arrive only after the dates he had requested. But I flew down early, finished quarantine and joined the shoot,” he says.
He also lauds the filmmaker for his working style. “After Hariharan sir, Roshan is probably the only other filmmaker in this generation who captures even the minutest expressions of actors. He is precise that way because he extracts exactly what he wants from all artistes,” Manoj explains.
Meanwhile, the film also presented him an opportunity to work with Bobby and Sanjay, whose family has been his neighbours in Kottayam. “I have known them since they were children,” he says. The actor, who has worked with brilliant scriptwriters such as MT Vasudevan Nair, Lohitadas and Dennis Joseph, says that he feels fortunate to work in the screenplay of the duo, whom he considers today’s best.
“Their scripts are a huge confidence for the artistes. If a poster has their name on it, the audience is also assured that it would be a good film. Salute, I think is a perfect script and with every dialogue, you could understand that they are experts at their craft,” concludes the actor, who also has Maradu 357, Aaha and Higuita coming up.
Read the entire interview: Exclusive! Manoj K Jayan: I believe that an actor has to journey with cinema as it evolves