Ever since Telugu actor Rana Daggubati made his Bollywood debut with Dum Maaro Dum in 2011 followed by The Ghazi Attack in 2017, he has been making waves in Hindi cinema. The actor is known for choosing different roles. Whether it is being deep into the waters in The Ghazi Attack, ruling an imagined kingdom in Baahubali franchise or now living in a deep jungle with wildlife in Haathi Mere Saathi slated to release on March 26, Rana agrees that his films have always allowed him to stay away from the mundane.
“As an actor, I always look for different things. I feel inspired every time I become part of new stuff, which is not regular and gives me something new to learn. I think that’s why I am an artiste. I have no choice but to choose different and inspiring films,” expresses the actor.
Rana’s upcoming multi-lingual film Haathi Mere Saathi chronicles the journey of a man who fights for the jungle and the animals. According to the actor, the film is a reflection of the environmental crisis across the world. Talking about the film and his character, which is more like a modern Mowgli of The Jungle Book, Rana confesses that choosing this film was an instinct of doing something different with every film. “It’s organic. When you go on the set and see 18 elephants walking, the earth literally shudders, and I had to build relation with the wildlife. I took some time to build my relationship with animals and the trees around. I would practice every day and that was a different universe I lived in,” he shares. Any challenges, we ask? “I wouldn’t say it was a challenge but yes an experience. We had to wind up things and leave max by 5.30 in the evening because it would turn pitch dark in the forest. While on the way back, I would hear noises that animals would make. All different from the other and birds are chirping. It’s a different world,” he shares.
An actor of his stature is bound to face comparisons for his films one after the other. However, the actor remains unaffected by how the audience would perceive his next. “I usually don’t think that much. I think of a story, and if that’s organic and if the character is original then I believe it connects with the audiences. In this film, my character is a part of a jungle universe and he is noble. As an actor it is lovely to play something inspirational,” says the actor.
Ask about his takeaways from the character, Rana confesses the film changed him as a human. “Every film that I have done so far has taught me a lot. But this film has changed me as a human forever. You feel different after staying in a jungle for a few days and staying there for a year has changed my relationship with human beings completely.”
Very few people would know that Rana started his journey as a visual effect co-ordinator and then moved to acting in television and films. Rana also has a talent company started by his grandfather and he agrees that he takes a lot of inspiration from his family background. “My career started differently. My company is the first place where I learnt from. And cinema exposure comes from my grandparents. We can make cinema which is so alternative but take a platform that is very prominent. And I think that’s how I am,” he says.
The actor, who married the love of his life Miheeka Bajaj in a close-knit ceremony last year, shares that his wife is still trying to understand what he actually does. “She is not much involved in my film life. She is still figuring out what I am doing. She will be active in some part but don’t know what part as of now,” gushes the actor.
As the film was twice delayed owing to the pandemic, during the virtual trailer release on Thursday, the actor regretted not having it shown in theatres. “Pandemic has taught us a lot of things. This is a very specific story which would give grand experience in theatres and it will be different. The trailer would have been twice larger than what we see on laptops. But I am happy the film is going into theatres,” he says.
Backed by Eros International and directed by Prabhu Solomon, the movie also stars Pulkit Samrat, Shriya Pilgaonkar and Zoya Hussain.