Despite coming from a family of movie moguls, there’s always an air of mystery surrounding Rana Daggubati. Unlike his peers in the industry with mighty familial connections, Rana always seems to be in the background, going about his work – quietly and efficiently. He revels in new challenges, picks the subjects close to his heart, and then takes his time to mould it into perfection.
From playing the mighty Bhallaladeva in Baahubali (2015), Rana makes an unprecedented switch to play a naval officer in the upcoming trilingual Ghazi, which is being touted as India’s first underwater/war-at-sea film. The film is based on true events that took place during the Indo-Pak war in 1971.
“We felt like we were building something. Most of the information related to the war is classified. So we had to use basic information to recreate it on-screen,” he says. Most of the set was recreated. “We used a hydraulic set, which is half on water and half on land. For the Pakistani submarine, we created another parallel set,” Rana shares.
And while he admits that even though Ghazi is inspired by true events, it’s a fictionalised version, he points out that dealing with such a subject brought about its own challenges.
“It was a challenge because this is something that has not been done before. We have seen a lot of films on the army and of wars on land. But this was the first time we were shooting a film on war at sea. There is a completely different protocol in the Navy. For instance, naval officers are not allowed to take showers — only the cook is allowed to shower,” he points out.
And while the subject was always intriguing to begin with, Ghazi climbed a notch higher, with Bollywood giants Karan Johar and distributor Anil Thadani stepping in, giving the project a big push on the national stage. With Amitabh Bachchan lending his voice for the film, Ghazi (The Ghazi Attack in Hindi) is one of the most awaited films this year. The film is being projected as ‘The war you did not know about’, due to lack of Information available on it.
And while the trailer of Ghazi has already created an unprecedented buzz, film-goers already have one eye on the big film this summer, Baahubali: The Conclusion, a sequel to one of Indian cinema’s biggest hits, Baahubali: The Beginning. Rana assures us that this film will be even bigger than the first part. “The second part is more dramatic with more elaborate war-scenes and great visual effects. It will be a visual treat for the audience with a bit more drama,” the actor informs.
With great power comes greater responsibility, and Rana explains that the success of the first part was taken positively by the team of Baahubali, rather than getting them worried about having to deal with added pressure for the sequel. “More than pressure, it gave us strength. Because we set out to do something which nobody was doing in Indian cinema at that point. Of course, we could afford better technicians and better visual effects supervisors, but the success of Baahubali gave validity to the hard work that we put in,” explains the 32-year-old.
And while his peers churn out two-three films an year, Rana is content with doing even one film in two years, as long as it’s a film that matters to him. “Well, I spent four years on one film, because I believed in it. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many films I do in an year, as long as it’s the right film. I’m not the person who likes doing regular commercial films. I like to pick subjects which I enjoy doing,” he says, firmly.
And sure enough, Rana’s next projects are equally unorthodox and challenging, when compared to mainstream cinema. “Next, I’m doing a political drama based in Ananthapur. I’m also doing a Tamil film titled Madai Thiranthu, which is a period war film, set in British India,” he shares.
Rana, who made his Bollywood debut with Dum Maaro Dum in 2011, is unsure about when he’ll do a full-fledged Bollywood film next. “It really depends. For instance, Ghazi is a national subject so we’re also releasing it in Hindi. But my next film, the political drama (with director Teja) is a Telugu film, since it’s something that’s more relevant to the audience here. So my foray into Bollywood or any other language depends on the subject of the film,” Rana adds.
Directed by Sankalp Reddy, Ghazi features Taapsee Pannu as the female lead and is slated to hit screens on February 17.