The Man of all Seasons RANA DAGGUBATI

The actor who stands out with his towering frame has proved that language is no barrier for him when it comes to acting. After the success of his recent flick Bahubali 2: The Conclusion, Rana now plans to focus on doing only good projects.

Transcending the language barrier in cinema, Ramanaidu Daggubati, who we better know as Rana, has been able to break linguistic borders and garner pan- Indian appeal by doing movies in multiple languages including Telugu, Tamil and Hindi. He is also a producer, visual effects coordinator and a photographer. Having made his acting debut in films with the telugu blockbuster, Leader in 2010, for which he won the Filmfare Award for Best Male Debut, South, Rana first appeared in Bollywood with the 2011 movie Dum Maaro Dum alongside actor Bipasha Basu. Followed by his cameo in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Rana played second fiddle to actor Akshay Kumar in 2015 action spy thriller Baby. Rana’s role as the main antagonist in SS Rajamouli’s epic blockbuster films Bahubali: The Beginning and Bahubali 2: The Conclusion earned him huge appreciation lately. The Ghazi Attack, his latest release, also set the box office ringing, firmly establishing the actor’s space in the industry.

The tough road

Rana did not have an easy start though like many others. Describing his struggle, he said on a TV show, “I should tell you one thing, I am blind in my right eye. I can see only with my left one. My right eye was donated to me by a good samaritan after his death. If I close my left eye, I can’t see at all.”

Rana grew up in the world of movies. His grandfather, D Rama Naidu, was a successful film producer, while his uncle Venkatesh and his cousin Naga Chaitanya are popular actors. His most precious memory with his grandfather is when he would watch film rushes with him. “Every week, we would watch a film or two as a family,” Rana informs. The actor believes that cinema has the power to recreate any real-life scenario. Talking about his character in Bahubali, the fictitious fantasy drama set in a style inspired by Amar Chitra Katha and the epics, Rana observes, “Some inspirations worked at a subconscious level. Like for instance the Narasimha avatar when I’m shown to sit astride Bahubali (Prabhas) with murderous rage.”

Rigorous routine

To become the worthy opponent of Bahubali, Rana went through physical transformation to look bulked up. For his look and character, he submitted himself to the vision of the director and storywriter. “Directors have a great eye for detail. Rajamouli will observe you and when he likes something you do, he will stand by you and drive you to do it better,” says Rana. For Bahubali, Rana was required to gain 16-18 kg. He weighed 90 kg at the time of the shoot and it took him 12 weeks to achieve his target.

As an actor, Rana was very fascinated by the film and character. Talking about his fascination he elaborates, “I always like the characters I portray. Ideally, if I had the age and I was not male, I would have been Shivgami, so each character is very fascinating. It’s so overwhelming we are playing a character like that of Bhallala Deva, which is never written in cinema before. In my childhood, when we children heard the stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata we were so fascinated about it. I was very fascinated with the characters of Raavan and Duryodhan.” Rana believes that the overwhelming response to the film has been the strength of the team. “In 2012, we began with an intention of making the biggest war epic in India. It’s been a journey of determination and commitment,” he says.

After being critically acclaimed for his performance in Dum Maaro Dum and Baby, the decision to do The Ghazi Attack, a film on mysterious sinking of PNS Ghazi, a Pakistani submarine during the 1971 India- Pakistan war, was an important decision for Rana. Explaining his move to do a film in between the two parts of Bahubali, Rana says, “Post Bahubali, everybody would have expected me to do a commercial film.

But I chose Ghazi because it has an interesting story to tell. Although made as a bilingual and also dubbed in Tamil, this is a national film.” Rana enjoys being part of such larger-than-life stories as he thinks these are “the stories that deserve to be told, but are rarely made.”

The transformation from King Bhallaladeva in Bahubali to a navy officer in Ghazi was very challenging for him. “Bhallaladeva as a character is very tough to come out of, because it’s so overpowering and larger-thanlife. The challenge in Ghazi was to get my look right. I could only achieve it due to rigorous cardio training and then I had to do a lot of underwater training because the film features underwater sequences,” he shared.

Focussed approach

Talking about how he chooses a particular film, Rana says, “When I sign a film, I look at the writer’s intent and think about what else I can do with what has been written for me. I am not bigger than the story and I can’t choose what sort of films I would like to do. I believe the story chooses me. Now we are moving into a phase where what was once alternative cinema is becoming mainstream. I like being in that space.”

Be it his fierce look in Bahubali, the chemistry with Bipasha Basu in Dum Maaro Dum or the intense role as a Lt. Commander in The Ghazi Attack, Rana Daggubati is making a lot of buzz in the film industry. Given the huge canvas of films, the actor says his focus is now on doing good projects.

Words: MIA GANDHI

 

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