Connect with extreme emotion of characters: Rana on playing varied roles

“Baahubali” star Rana Daggubati says he has always been enamoured by the idea that he gets to recreate interesting lives through characters good and bad. The actor, best known for his roles in Hindi movies “Dum Maaro Dum”, “Baby” and Telugu films “Leader”, “Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum” and “Rudramadevi”, has made his streaming debut with Netflix show “Rana Naidu”. “I like the extremes, like when I play good (roles) in films, there is extreme goodness like in `Leader`, where good is extreme. And if it is bad, the bad has to be extreme too and if it is grey like in `Rana Naidu`, it is (also) going to be extreme. I feel extreme emotions is what I connect with and it does not matter if I am playing good or bad (roles). The fact that I get to play so many things is interesting,” Rana told PTI in an interview.

“The idea why we do movies or why we are actors is the fact that you can recreate lives that you can never live or have seen or what is most interesting,” he added. Set in Bombay, the show, which streams from Friday, follows the life of Rana Naidu (Rana Daggubati), the go-to guy for everyone in Bollywood when they have a problem. Rana may solve problems for others but shares a tumultuous equation with his father Naga Naidu (Venkatesh). The show, an official adaptation of the popular American drama series “Ray Donovan”, is showrun and directed by Karan Anshuman with Suparn Verma of “The Family Man 2” fame serving as the co-director. Rana, 38, described his character of Rana Naidu as complex yet emotional.

Also read: Rana Daggubati sheds light on the universal language of cinema

“When you see me in the show, you do not know if this guy is good or bad. You just follow him with whatever deeds he does and Rana Naidu best uses this. He is stoic, extremely complex, emotional but does not show emotion. He has a problem with everybody, he wants to fix everything but he is the reason that everything is not being fixed. So, it is a complex world that he lives in and that is what really excited me.” The actor said he saw the original show and felt it provided him a unique opportunity to explore family dynamics in a never-seen-before way.

“My entire family is known for making family dramas and I have never done that. This is a family show of people who are always in grey and it has complex emotions that I will never be able to do in a film. “Also, here (on OTT), the characters can stretch so long and grow… I found that fascinating. I could not ask for a better first than this,” he said. “Rana Naidu” marks the first onscreen collaboration between Rana and his real-life actor uncle Venkatesh. It was a conscious decision to not play the “cliched” father-son duo onscreen, Rana said, adding, he is looking forward to seeing how the audience reacts to their pairing. “We were always talking about doing things together but when you are usually related in the film industry, you have offers like father is saving son and son saving father, bunch of music, and dining table scenes and those kinds of stuff.

“I did not want to be clichéd… Here we got to play characters that are going against each other and it is interesting for the audience to watch something nobody has seen.” Rana said his uncle was eager to “reinvent” himself through the show in a never-before-seen persona. “He wanted to reinvent what he was as an actor. He is a big family drama hero in Telugu cinema, he is the synonym for good and good films. Families go to watch his films. When he saw the original, he saw the potential to do something more with that character and I feel he is very different from the original,” he said.

With “Rana Naidu”, Venkatesh returns to a Hindi-language project after 28 years. Venkatesh made his debut in Bollywood in 1993 opposite Karsima Kapoor in romantic-drama “Anari”, a remake of his own Telugu film “Chanti”. Later, he also featured in action-comedy “Taqdeerwala” (1995), alongside Raveena Tandon. Recalling how his uncle struggled with speaking his Hindi lines for the show, Rana added the “Anari” star is incredibly disciplined and doesn`t take his job lightly even after three decades in movies. “He (Venkatesh) is very diligent in what he does. And he did Hindi films 30 or 35 years ago, so saying Hindi lines was complex to him.

He used to call me and we used to be on the phone and read the scene and we used to read it so the language is comfortable before we get on sets. Rana said he and Venkatesh were pleasantly “shocked” to hear how different the obscene words sounded in their language while dubbing for the show. “For the cuss words, we didn`t think so much when we saw the English version. It is easy when we did it in Hindi. It didn`t bother us so much, but when we started dubbing it in Telugu, we were like, `Oh, what did we just hear!`. “In Hindi, whether it is `Mirzapur` or other (web series) you are used to this language, (but) in Telugu no one speaks like that. That was a shocker in the dubbing studio.” Also starring Ashish Vidyarthi, Abhishek Banerjee, Priya Banerjee, Gaurav Chopra and Sushant Singh, `Rana Naidu` premiered today.

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