Rana Daggupati carries forward the legacy on his own terms

Decades ago, writer Devyani Choubal referred to D. Ramanaidu as one of the most handsome men in South India in her column. Now, Hi Blitz rates his grandson Rana Daggubati among 50 handsome men in India.

Like most scions of film families, Rana went to acting school, put himself through regular fitness regimens and acquired the basic skill sets required to become an actor. But on the sets of his debut film, Leader, directed by Sekhar Kammula, he had to unlearn all that and revert to being his original self. “Six years of heading an organisation (Spirit Media) taught me how to develop leadership qualities and nurture people and these things came in handy,” he says.

That Rana's launch would be an unconventional one was expected for people who knew him closely. Rana's Spirit Media has been into high-end postproduction facilities and partnered with FXLabs to develop games based on movies, comics and much more. He produced the award-winning children's film, A Belly Full of Dreams, and set the tone for things to come.

Despite all this, Rana himself never fathomed that Sekhar would direct his debut film. “My granddad, uncle Venky, dad (Suresh Babu) and I were debating on the ideal launch vehicle. Sekhar Kammula never figured in the list of directors. He is not your regular film person. He lives in Padma Rao Nagar and has his own set of friends who are away from the industry. I worked with him during the making of comics based on Happy Days. But when he said he wanted to make a film with me, I thought to myself that I never looked like the heroes of his earlier movies — Anand, Godavari and Happy Days.”

Political drama

Leader is a clear departure from Sekhar's soft romances. “Sekhar had that streak in him, which was evident the way Sumanth's character begins in Godavari. Leader is like a common man's wish list of how a political leader should be,” says Rana. “Leader is a political drama. A family into politics makes decisions that have a far-reaching impact on the state and the country.” He rules out references to any political family in particular. The timing of the film is right, he feels, given the fact that the country has young, educated politicians in the fray. “The country's political scenario is complex and so is the film. Sekhar spent a lot of time detailing each character.”

The necessity of pleasing audience in different sectors doesn't worry Rana. “If it was a regular film with a few songs and fights, I would have to think of catering to A, B and C centres. We shot for the film in 20 different villages and I understood how people in villages are more knowledgeable about politics than us city-bred youth. I sat through sessions of Racha Banda in a village and was amazed at how they followed proceedings in the State Legislative Assembly,” explains Rana.

Rana belongs to the young, educated tribe that wants to bring in fresh ideas into the industry. The marketing game plan Leader takes a novel approach. The first set of posters feature his silhouette and the trailers have mere voice-overs. “The marketing plan should follow the theme of the film and not the hero.”

His soundboards in the industry, apart from his family, are childhood friends Ram Charan Teja and Allu Arjun. “My family members initially had doubts whether I should do Leader as my first film. My friends encouraged me to do it,” he says.