TABLE for TWO Metroplus

The strong man

Film Producer Rana Daggubati Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

“Trust me I eat a lot. I am a big guy.” Rana Daggubati states the obvious as he shake hands. It is tea time and the Telugu star, who is now making his presence felt in Hindi films, is in no mood to showcase his appetite. “I will stick to cappuccino but will give you enough meat for your copy,” he promises.

He starts with haleem, his favourite. “The good thing about Hyderabad is the variety of cuisine available. From Nizami cuisine to Andhra food to Telengana delicacies, you are spoilt for choice. I am fluent with each of them. Like, Nizami biryani has more flavour but is milder than the spicy Telengana pulao. .” Be it languages or cuisine, Rana holds Hyderabad as the most culturally diverse metro and feels that the fact has not been exploited well on screen.

Not a fussy eater, Rana doesn’t exclaim ‘Oh! It’s so oily’ after seeing the food at the sets. His stomach has been supportive. “Once a new pan Asian restaurant opened in Hyderabad and we ordered food from it. Something went wrong. My mother was hospitalised, my sister vomited the whole day but nothing happened to me. You see, my immunity has reached a different level!” he quips.

But to maintain the admirable physique, he spends two hours in the gym, six days a week, come what may. “I have to work extra hard because my diet is not structured. I am not complaining. You live once, why crib. It’s only when I have to do some bare body shots that I cut down on fat.”

For the photo shoot he moves into the restaurant’s kitchen and after posing with French fries moves on to tandoor where he inadvertently burns his fingers with the iron rods. “I am a disaster child as well. I bet you wouldn’t have such an eventful column before,” Rana laughs off the injury as he soaks his hand in ice water.

Moving on to his acting career, Rana admits that he has not been able to find home ground after a stupendous start with Leader. “Telugu industry asks me why don’t I spend time in Hyderabad and Mumbai people ask the same thing. Telugu actors don’t need to look outside but I don’t see it the conventional way,” says the grandson of late D. Ramanaidu, who produced films in different languages. “To me, cinema as an art form has only one language. I want to give two years to a film that the whole India should watch,” he says referring to S.S. Rajamouli’s magnum opus Baahubali, which is being made in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi. “Hindi film industry makes film for the rest of the world. Tamil films are watched by Malay people. When a film is not bound by a language, why should an actor be,” reasons Rana, who is conscious about his role as a producer as well. His grandfather was known for Hindi films like Tohfa, Dilwala and Rakhwala and Rana promises to carry the legacy forward. “We are going to announce a project in Hindi soon.”

Rana maintains the Hindi film industry has embraced him. “There was a nice welcoming feeling in Mumbai. Some of it has to do with my features. In Dum Maaro Dum, I was accepted as a Goan and in Department, people looked me as a Maharashtrian cop. In real life as well, I easily gel with surroundings. I experienced it in Punjab.”

The artistic merit of Telugu films is often questioned. Rana says it has to do with the kind of films the Hindi industry picks up to remake. “We are tackling different themes like Rudramadevi. It is based on the life of a Kakatiya queen and it is the most expensive heroine-oriented film attempted in the country. I agree we can’t make genre films like Finding Fanny because we don’t have many metro cities like Hindi filmmakers have to cater but within the constraints we are trying.”

Talking about Baahubali, Rana says it is a period war film but not a historical. “The idea is to make an Indian war film for the world audience. A lot of research has gone into armours and weapons. Apart from horse riding, I had to train in using different forms of maces.” Playing the lead antagonist in the film, Rana says he is playing a Duryodhan kind of figure in the fictional kingdom. “I have always been fascinated by the Ravans and Duryodhans of our mythology.” He bulked up to play the warrior and Neeraj Pandey happened to see the stills and signed him for his espionage thriller. “It is the role of a hardcore agent in the intelligence unit. It is not an action comedy. These agents are not ready to lay life for the country. They take lives to protect the interests of their countrymen.” Rana is conscious that he is not cast only for his physique. “My choice of roles has proven that, and now I am doing a family drama called Nia with Bipasha Basu.”

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2020 4:15:20 AM |

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