In a free-wheeling interview, Rana Daggubati talks about success, inspiration, box office pressure and lot more
Baahubali 2 has proved the might of the Indian film industry to the world in spectacular fashion. Prabhas and Rana Daggubati have emerged as the new poster boys of Indian cinema. The film is getting immense love and is unstoppable at the box office. Critics in India and abroad have raved about how SS Rajamouli brought forth such a big visual extravaganza at a much lesser budget than Hollywood films. In an exclusive chat with us, Rana Daggubati said, “It (managing the resources) was not easy. Today, if we make a Baahubali film, we will make it in a better way. It was a learning curve for all of us. We had to understand everything, there were lapses but we kept going. There was no one to teach us how to do stuff. We learnt and understood along the way.” So, how did they manage to keep it within the budget? “Nothing was under control. When you are making a film like Baahubali, nothing can be under control. What we did was that we stuck together positively as a team.”
The film has brought back the focus on the Indian form of story-telling. The makers have said time and again that Amar Chitra Katha tales are the inspiration behind the series. “First of all, we have a strong story-telling background with stuff like Ramayana and Mahabharata. I grew up on them. There are these legendary tales, which are a part of Indian ethos and we love telling them again and again. Baahubali is a reflection of those stories,” says Rana. He further says that SS Rajamouli and he are huge fans of Amar Chitra Katha that had great anti-heroes like Ravana and Duryodhana. “We took back a bit of that to cinema. It was not one particular thing,” he says. Rana says Bhallaldeva was inspired by those great villains and not particularly one. “It is bit and pieces of everything. I cannot pinpoint on one,” says he.
The success of Baahubali has raised questions on why a film of its stature cannot be made in Bollywood. Many of them have said that it’s because people do not have a vision and the industry is not so secure in its mindset. “You cannot bifurcate industries or set-ups as secure or insecure. All kinds of people exist everywhere. We were a group of people who had a vision to make this great grand film. We knew some time would be needed but we would be part of timeless cinema. There was no other thought in mind,” opines Rana. The success of the film must have put pressure on the handsome hunk to deliver bigger at the box office. He has a couple of films including a political satire with Kajal Aggarwal in the pipeline. Talking about pressure, Rana says, “Not really. I have worked more down South. Numbers (box office collections) are publicised but not so much. That drive is not there. As far as producers’ thinking goes, to each his own.”
During the gap between Baahubali: The Beginning and Baahubali 2, Rana had another talked about project, The Ghazi Attack. After devoting so much time to Bhallaladeva, how easy was it for him to exorcise the towering antagonist out of his system? “We are very happy with what we achieved with Baahubali. All my upcoming films are character-driven. First of all, no one will look like Bhallaladeva (laughs out loud). My role in The Ghazi Attack was totally different. Both the films did well for their intended audience,” says the hunk.
Baahubali 2’s technical team has got immense praise but few know that the crew which has worked on the film have worked in some of the biggest Hollywood projects of recent times like Deadpool, Captain America and the Snow White series. What does Rana feel was the biggest takeaway for them after working with SS Rajamouli and his team? “For them, they were pretty amazed at how made it happen here (in Hyderabad). Lee (Whittaker), Niko (Nedyalkov) are really awesome. Each and every technician was crucial for the film. If you removed even one person from the team structure, results would be different. We needed everyone at the right place at the right time,” says an appreciative Rana. Which scene did he enjoy shooting for the most? He promptly replies, “All of it, I enjoyed every scene, every little bit.”
Buzz is that a mega bash is being planned by the producers and Karan Johar to celebrate the film’s success. “Really, you heard about that…I haven’t got that information. Prabhas is in the US, I am in Hyderabad, Rajamouli is in London. We are scattered across the planet. First, let us return and spend some time with each other,” laughs Rana. The camaraderie between Baahubali’s leading men Prabhas and Rana have warmed hearts. Everyone is amazed to see how much they love and support each other. “We were together for five years. We might as well be friendly, it helps everybody (Laughs out loud). See, we are a bunch of funny people who love the film business. All got together for the same intention. There were funny moments throughout. Rajamouli is also a funny man,” reveals Rana.
Finally, we told him that many were curious to know who exactly was Bhallaladeva’s queen if he had a son, Bhadra? “You can tell people he was a surrogate kid. He does not have a mom,” chuckles the hunk. However, there is one little one Rana wants to meet up with soon. It is Dulquer Salmaan’s little daughter who was born last Friday. “I would love to see the kid at the soonest,” says Rana.