Director Shyamaprasad offered Salmaan a role in the film Ritu. Later, Tamil director N. Linguswamy also offered him a role in his first Malayalam film. But Salmaan says he rejected the offers because he felt he had to study the various aspects of cinema in detail before venturing further and for that did a short term course in film.
In 2011, Salmaan signed his friend Srinath Rajendran's debut project Second Show in which he played the role of a gangster. Second Show, released on 3 February 2012, was according to Sify, "well appreciated by both the viewers and also by the critics" and completed a 100 days run. His second project was Ustad Hotel with director Anwar Rasheed. The film earned critical acclaim and was one of the major commercial successes in Malayalam cinema in the year 2012. Both films were in the list of "Top 10 Malayalam films of 2012" compiled by Oneindia.in.
His third film was Theevram, a crime thriller directed by Roopesh Peethambaran in which he had the role of a killer avenging his wife's death,was released on 16 November 2012. Salmaan signed on to appear in Martin Prakkat's ABCD: American-Born Confused Desi scheduled for release in 2013 as his fourth film where he made his debut as a singer. He worked his fifth movie with Sameer Thahir on a film named Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi. He has also acted in Amal Neerad's segment in the anthology film Anchu Sundharikal. The film Pattam Pole, directed by Azhagappan, was released on 11 October 2013 and it received mixed reviews. He appeared in Salala Mobiles was which released on 23 January 2014.
He made his debut in Tamil in Vaayai Moodi Pesavum and its Malayalam version Samsaaram Aarogyathinu Haanikaram, being a bilingual film simultaneously directed by Balaji Mohan. His next release was Anjali Menon's Bangalore Days which got positive reviews from critics and a box office collection of ₹8.5 crore in its first week. His next film was Vikramadithyan which received mostly mixed reviews from the critics but eventually turned a super hit at the box office. He also performed the most challenging character of his career in Renjith's Njaan, which was based on T. P. Rajeevan's book named K.T.N Kottur Ezhuthum Jeevithavum. The movie was received well by the critics but the movie was a complete dud at the box office.
His next release was Jenuse Mohamed's 100 Days of Love. The bilingual film O Kadhal Kanmani opposite Nithya Menen under the director Mani Ratnam released with positive reviews. O Kadhal Kanmani was released on 17 April 2015, alongside its Telugu version OK Bangaram, and won highly positive reviews from critics, praising the lead pair's performances and the quality of the film's technical aspects. The film went on to become a financial success at the box office, performing extremely well in multiplexes in India and overseas.
As of September 2015, Salmaan has completed filming for Martin Prakkat's Charlie. He is currently shooting for untitled projects by Rajeev Ravi and Sameer Thahir. In addition, Salmaan has committed to star in projects by Pratap Pothen and Amal Neerad