Saleem made his acting debut with a leading role in the 2011 romantic comedy Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge, a box-office success. He was appreciated for his performance and earned a nomination at the Filmfare Award in the Best Male Debut category. The following year, he completed his two-film contract with the Y-Films by appearing in Mere Dad Ki Maruti, a romantic comedy that proved to be a critical and commercial success. Subsequently, he played a supporting role in the experimental anthology Bombay Talkies (2013). While not a box-office success, the film garnered him positive response from critics. He received further praise for played the lead in the critically acclaimed passionate drama Hawaa Hawaai (2014).