South India’s Sexiest!: Rana Daggubati exclusively on RITZ

A true blue-blooded movie star, Rana Daggubati was ‘born with it.’ Hailing from one of the biggest and most influential film families in South India, Rana still chose to start his career as a visual effects co-ordinator and producer, gradually progressing to acting. Today, the very name Rana Daggubati is enough to send women swooning. He is hot property across the country, standing taller than his 6 feet 3 inches as one of the most sought-after stars thanks to his latest flick Baahubali 2, that has not only taken the entire industry, but the nation by storm. The success of the Baahubali franchise is  unprecedented, with the second part recently grossing more than 1000 crores at the worldwide box office, even unseating Hollywood biggies in the process. But this oh-so-handsome actor is not one to rest on his laurels or titles. Instead of staying hung over from the dizzying success of his magnum opus Baahubali 2, the actor has already gone back to the maddening schedules for his next project.

Rana’s movie star tag comes with intricate layers. A heady combination of his power-packed performances, off-beat movie choices, talented genes, sculpted body and Greek-God looks have earned him the title of “South India’s Sexiest.” Laughing with abandon, talking with animation, shocking you with high-spirited shenanigans and stunning you with high-strung characters on screen – in a heart-to-heart with RITZ, Rana drops his armour and bares it all – about his sexy tag, relationship status, current success and much more. Read on to see a different side to this celluloid Demi-God.

Text: Anahita Ahuja

Photography: NIKKHIL BARELI

Styling: ANAHITA

Make up: VIJAY DHAMNE

Hair: ALEXANDER

Location: PARK HYATT, HYDERABAD

 

Before we start – congratulations on the record-breaking success of Baahubali 2! You must be feeling on top of the world…

Thank you so much. Yes, we all do, as a matter if fact. It feels nice when a vision turns into reality and then is accepted so well by the audiences.

The kind of dedication that is needed to make something of this scale is incredible…

Well, it certainly is not easy; more so, when you’re making a film on the lines of something that has not been done before, or attempting something bigger than what is available. One needs to be fair, give it ample time and have a lot of patience. After all, it is a first for everyone involved and we have all tried our bit in making it happen.

Can you briefly recall the long journey?

The entire process of making was almost close to six years, but that doesn’t seem very long for two big films of this scale. The journey was about discovering a lot of things while seeing what we were working on. It was a first for most of us and we were all required to deliver our very best at all times – that does take time, after all. Regardless, all of us enjoyed the process because we knew we were doing something that had never been attempted before – and in the process, we learnt and grew. The experience and relationships that I am taking back will always be very, very special to me.

All of you must have shared great camaraderie on the sets and must be great friends now?

Not just friends, we’ve all become a big family! Spending about six years together, everyone does end up becoming a part of each other’s life. What also connected us was the fact that we were all in it for something far greater than just money. Everyone who worked on this film could have done many other movies in this duration and made far greater money – but sticking to one man’s vision to be able to produce the biggest movie franchise in the history of this country – was something else!

What was the best part about being a part of such a franchise?

The whole experience of making a movie like Baahubali was amazing; and to be a part of something that was at this scale, involved with people who put in this kind of focus and dedication has been nothing short of historic.

Any regrets?

Nothing! In the midst of all this grandeur, can anyone actually point out anything that’s close to negative?

How much of Bhallala Deva do you relate to?

In my opinion, as an actor you end up picking parts from, and reflecting yourself on to each character you play. A part of what we are today is a reminiscence of the characters we play over a period of time, so there will obviously be a little part of every one of them in me and of me in them. I doubt being able to point it out, though.

And, what lies ahead for you?

I have lived as Bhallala Deva for years, and now that Baahubali is done, I have two movies in production – one Telugu and the other’s a Telugu-Tamil bilingual. One is a political drama, which is inspired from something that is on the lines of The Wolf Of Wall Street, but in the political space. It is a fictional story of a not-so-good politician. The other one is a movie that is set is 1945 – the story of a soldier in the Bose regiment; a love story of that time. As of now, I am working on these two, the rest are still in the pipeline.

How are you gearing up for them?

My physical appearance varies from film to film. No one yo-yos the way I do. I was 25 kilos heavier a few months ago, and now I am much lighter. I will be shedding more weight now, which I will build back and go back to being 120 kgs around September for another look. As an actor, I try not to keep anything constant with the way I look. Some change, every now and then, is good.

Do you see yourself dancing around trees?

I have never actually done that… actually I did, once. But that genre of cinema I am not fond of. Above all, there are enough people doing it already, so it’s okay. I am just trying to find new genres, with newer stories. I don’t want to say something that has already been said – not even by myself. For example, I found a submarine war film ‘The Ghazi Attacks’ and Baahubali, of course. The focus is to bring something on the table that isn’t already served.

You’ve also recently collaborated with Kwan Entertainment and Marketing Solutions, South. Tell us about this new business venture and how you are managing it alongside your acting career.

There are a bunch of things that I have learnt in/from Mumbai. When I started my acting career, I noticed that there was a certain structure that the Hindi film industry would follow. With Kwan, I have just tried to replicate it here, for my folks. It isn’t any different as this is still in the movie business. I anyway don’t do regular cinema – I do genre-based cinema and am starting to do franchise, cross boundary kind of movies. Here language isn’t a barrier either, so I don’t step over anyone else’s space and in the meantime I also get to work with a lot of other actors.

“As an actor, I try not to keep anything constant with the way I look. Some change, every now and then, is good”

Tell us how you have changed in the past decade…

At a large, structural level nothing has changed. My passions are the same, my likes are the same, and so are my dislikes. I was associated with movies then, I am doing more work with them now. I was working 10 years ago, and I will be doing so 10 years later, too.
The only thing that has changed is the way of telling stories. The other real change that has come is that it is more organised in my head now. The rest is the same. I was doing trial and error then, I am continuing to do the same until now. It was experimental then, it is now also. I was not sure about the steps I was taking, I don’t know about them today too. So more or less, I am doing the same stuff but now, thanks to the experience, it is like a crash landing state with a parachute on.

Let’s now talk about your sexy tag…
What about my sexy tag?

About how people find you sexy!

(Laughs) I don’t know! They do, and I am extremely thankful for that. But I really do not know how I am supposed to deal with it!

Why? Do you not think you’re sexy?

No! I do not think I am sexy. I’m assuming they just say this because of my physical appearances in movies, right?

Really?

Yes, I feel it has a lot to do with the way I look in my films. Most of my looks are different and that is what people like. I haven’t done films which are the typical rom-coms; I do cinema which is not very mainstream – I do alternative stuff and that is what is going well for me.

Would Rana never say “I’m sexy and I know it”, then?

No. You will never hear me say that in my life.

Ok brace yourself for a rapid fire round now. What was the last picture taken on your phone?

(checks phone) It was when I stocked up alcohol in my bar.

In your younger days, did you ever make crank calls?

Nope, never.

What are your usual thoughts when you wake up?

On how quickly I can get to work! Unlike many people, we go to work at 5:30am and start rolling by 7am. So there isn’t much time to think in the morning.

Are you a morning person?

Yes, I am quite okay waking up early.

What is that one question you hate to answer?

I don’t think there is anything that I would not want to talk about.

What kind of music do you usually listen to?

I am an EDM fan, but don’t listen to it too much. Then I have these phases where I do and that’s when you’ll see my attending these music festivals and stuff. Apart from that, it is usually film-based music which depends on my mood.

“What connected the entire team of Baahubali was the fact that we were all in it for something far greater than just money”

Who is your go-to person?

That would have to be myself – I resolve things on my own. I don’t really go to anyone else.

How do you usually celebrate birthdays?

Pretty much drunk, I guess! (Smiles)

What have you discovered about yourself lately?

I don’t think there is anything about myself that I didn’t already know.

The best pick-up line used on you?

It cannot just be one pick-up line; it takes much more!

So, no line has ever worked?

Just one line – no, so far it hasn’t.

Who is your celebrity crush?

Salma Hayek.

Would you ever date a fan?

It depends, I guess. A fan is also a person, after all. But this would only depend on the person she is.

What do you think is the sexiest thing in a woman?
In a shallow sense, I am attracted to tall women. But in a deeper and more real sense, I am attracted to women who are strong, intelligent and worldly wise.

What turns you on?

All these things.

What turns you off?

I don’t like people who are negative or bitchy.

What gets you angry?

Indiscipline.

What makes you happy?

Movies.

What was the nicest rumour you’ve hear about yourself?

That I got paid more than Prabhas for Baahubali!

One quick fix on a bad hair day?

Wear a cap.

What do you sleep in?

Nothing!

What is your motto in life?

Just be happy – no matter what you’re doing. After all, you have just this one life.

Your current relationship status?

Single.

How much does criticism affect you?

Honestly, nothing affects me. I am like a stone.

How you do react to a hit?

I don’t.

And what about a flop?

I don’t react then either.

Then?

It could be the biggest hit, or the biggest disaster – I don’t spend too much time pondering over it. I’d rather move on. If it’s a hit, I smile and work ahead, if it’s not, then I work towards figuring out how to get out of it and change things. It’s all about looking ahead.

One message to someone who hates you?

Hey! It’s cool, yo! Be that way!

One message to the fans out there?

Thank you very much for all the love.

List of favourites:

Colour: Black

Car: Any car that is big enough for me to fit in and has a nice A/C

Holiday Destination: In India it would be Goa

Actress: Anushka Shetty

Actor: That would always be Kamal Haasan

Co-star: Anushka Shetty

Dish: Haleem

Person: My cousin Chaitanya

Party place: Home

Song: It keeps changing

Drink: Nothing like a nice, chilled beer in summer

Brand: Most things don’t fit me, so it is not about the brand but the size and fit

Outfit: Gym clothing