Rana Daggubati is a household name across the country, thanks to Baahubali's humongous success. As the mighty Bhallaladeva and the clever Arjun Prasad, Rana has done diverse roles that explored his prowess. Before becoming an actor, he was a visual effects producer and even won the Nandi Award for Best Special Effects in 2006.
On India Today's e-Mind Rocks 2020, Rana Daggubati spoke about his wedding with Miheeka Bajaj, his upcoming animation talk show, and his love for playing negative roles.
Excerpts from the conversation:
Can you tell us about your fiancee Miheeka Bajaj and your wedding?
I think I am growing up and it's time to get married. My fiancee Miheeka lives 3 kms away from my house and we're in the same vicinity. Sometimes, you know when things are going smoothly. And I don't question it when things are going correctly. She's lovely and we make a great pair. We draw positive energy from one another. I am getting married on August 8. On the personal front, it's been the best time of my life, getting married to Miheeka. It's been pretty awesome.
Have you been working on an animation talk show during the lockdown? Can you elaborate?
The situation is quite uncertain and it's time we can do what we do best. We can develop the right content and discover new formats of storytelling. I have an animation talk show called Why are you? which will be available on an OTT platform soon. For the next year, in realistic timelines, we cannot start or complete a big project quickly. So, the priority has shifted to what we can do. As actors and producers, there are different ways of storytelling and we can explore them. Animation is something I am fond of since I am 16 years old and it's my first job before I became an actor.
Recently, Krishna and his Leela released and did extremely well on the OTT. For a film of that nature with a relatively new cast, it received national recognition. Coming to the controversy surrounding the film, I can pick 10 other Telugu films that are titled Krishna. The reach of OTT is much bigger and that's why it got noticed. If you've watched the film, the film doesn't offend anyone. I'm probably the biggest fan of mythology and historical stories and I do far more films in the space than any other actors. So, I'd be the last person to hurt people's sentiments with the films that I am associated with.
What are your thoughts on the OTT vs theatre debate?
Every time a new platform emerges, it's a treasure trove of talents. OTT is a democratic space for an artist as it gives you the freedom to tell stories that you like. It gives flexibility to talents and filmmakers. It's here to stay and we will get to see some interesting content. In terms of big-budget flicks, theatres will be their exhibit because it becomes an experience on the whole. So, we will get to see more big films in theatres and films that are drama-driven.
Do you love playing negative roles in films?
I enjoy playing negative roles. Being good comes with restrictions and being bad gives you a lot of freedom. That's the part of playing the bad guy. I can do things that I won't be able to do in real life. It's a good way to live an alter-ego. It's from character to character and hard to pinpoint what I like and not like in them.
How are you handling your family production house?
My grandfather and father are producers and we run studios in Hyderabad. We've been making content and finding talents for years now. At that point, all privileges go down the window. Because we have to get to work. The talk of nepotism doesn't work here as we are working overtime now. When you have a responsibility to run a huge organisation, it is different. The large part of the revenue comes from theatrical business and now that's not going to open any soon. There's a world out there and we have to make sure that the talent we have is delivering stuff. That's our job.
The nepotism debate is ongoing. Can you tell us about your thoughts?
Without the skill, you cannot last in any industry. Nepotism comes from an Indian understanding of what a family is. If you have a father who has worked very hard, he will provide it to his family in the means they understand, which is through capital and knowledge. So, we will be part of the privileged people. I can't take that away. That comes with greater responsibility. In lockdown, we have to run a company with over 600 employees and pay them a salary. We have to make sure that the organisation is back to its feet soon. There's always a responsibility attached to it. Also, there's no option of giving up and you've got to keep getting better.
What is your advice for aspiring actors?
Be observant of people. It comes from understanding life and people. Also, you have to figure out if you can resonate with their emotions. The more you do that, the more you become a better actor.
You have transcended borders and stepped into Bollywood successfully. Is there a tried and tested formula for it?
First, I never found the difference in watching a film, be it Hindi, Telugu or Tamil films. When I started acting, the language didn't matter. I chose the content that I connected with. My first Telugu film was a political thriller titled Leader. And another film was about drug peddling in Goa, which is Dum Maaro Dum. One, I could tell in Telugu and the other in Hindi. It's about understanding that stories can travel and the entire world can watch if it's right.
What would you call the best moment in life?
The biggest moment in life would be Baahubali. It's been about six years and we were able to understand and learn so much. The knowledge we gained, the popularity it has given us, and the licence it has given us to make our own decisions are outstanding. We understood that if the content is right there is no reason that there won't be an auditorium for it.
Can you tell us a bit about your family and your fitness plan during the lockdown?
This is the longest I have been home and it is fun. It's quite special. Coming to fitness, it's governed by a character I play. This is the only time that nothing governs me and it has been basic. I would say, this is my easier time where there's no certain way I have to look. I can look the way I want to.
What do you think about social media hate?
It's a place where a lot of people make comments on anything and everything. The fundamental is that it costs nobody anything to say something hurtful. One should not take this quite seriously and there should be a certain discipline. The lesser we focus on how social media governs your life, the better it is to do our job and be creatively inclined. That's what I follow.