Before we catch Rana in his Bhallaladeva avatar in one of the most awaited sequels, we will be seeing him play a Naval officer in intriguing film - The Ghazi Attack. The film also stars Taapsee Pannu, Kay Kay Menon and Atul Kulkarni. It's based on the mysterious events that took place before the 1971 Indo-Pak war broke out. PNS Ghazi had set out to destroy the only Indian Aircraft carrier - INS Vikrant, but it exploded and mysteriously sank. While the characters are fictional, the story is real and part of our history. The movie is set to release in 3 days. In an EXCLUSIVE interview with Bollywoodlife, Rana Daggubati talks about this visually compelling submarine war film, Baahubali 2 and his cousin Naga Chaitanya's recent engagement to Samantha Ruth Prabhu.
Can you tell us a little about your role in The Ghazi Attack?
It's not a regular film that comes out everyday in Hindi films or Indian films for that matter. In fact it's the first war at sea film made. I play a Submariner and Lieutenant Commander - Arjun Verma. It's an inspired tale from History. All our characters are fictional but the incident is real. We have taken as much information as we could from the resources that were available to us. Then we started to piece the parts of History to make it a clean flowing story. It was an incident that happened in 1971 just before the war of India Pakistan broke out. It was an incident that was classified and very few people knew about. We thought it was an important story to tell the audience - this is why a part of India is still left because there were soldiers that fought this war and won this for us. That was the reason I did this film.
You were shooting for Baahubali, The Ghazi Attack and in between that you were dubbing for The Inferno, so what was it like juggling different things simultaneously?
I was doing all of them in the same city, so it was okay. Right now, I am actually living out of a suitcase. I am getting Ghazi ready for release, dubbing for Baahubali and shooting for a political drama in Hyderabad. Now I am living out of a suitcase. Then I was pretty much okay.
This film is coming after Baahubali: The Beginning, so what's the pressure like to come out with a film after a magnum Opus?
They are two different films. They are not even the same films. I dont even look the same in these films. When one is watching a film, they are watching it for certain content. Last time, they came to watch it, it was because it was a medieval war they hadn't seen before. Now they will get to see a piece of history, to see how an underwater film is done.
So I wanted some people to see the film for a certain sound check. So I got a call back form them asking if they could bring their children for the film, because they wanted their children to see a submarine. Things like this make me very happy. It's an important story that as many people see it, it's nicer for me and for the film itself.
Considering Sankalp Reddy was debuting with The Ghazi Attack, what were your apprehensions?
I found Sankalp. I found a short filmmaker who was making this short film and I told him, this not going to be a short film anymore but a big large feature film that the entire country has to see. Obviously he's a filmmaker who is new. He hasn't done many films before, he hasn't made many short films either. So we padded him up with the right sense of people. He was an honest man with an honest intention making this story in whatever ways he could. And we gave him the best means to make it happen.
Karan Johar had distributed the Hindi version of Baahubali: The beginning and now he is distributing The Hindi version of The Ghazi Attack . What is Karan Johar like as a distributor?
“See, I don’t have to comment on him as a filmmaker, he’s one of the finest this country has seen. For us in Hyderabad, we understand how film making works, we understand how to make great stories and present to as many people as we can. Now when we are trying to put it out here in Hindi for the entire country to watch, we needed the right partner, the right person who is not only a distributor, (we could distribute it ourselves) but we wanted someone who is creatively in control of things. creatively could push us to better boundaries. And the combination of Karan Johar and Anil Thadani was the right way to do it. Baahubali was a great product, but if it wasn’t presented well enough, so many people wouldn’t have gotten to see it. So is the Ghazi Attack, so is Baahubali 2, So it’s been a great partnership so far.”
From playing a ruthless character in Baahubali to playing a naval officer in Ghazi to playing a Political leader in your next? Do you think this is the golden phase as you are getting to pull off versatile characters one after the other?
All my life I have done stuff that was new and unique. I have never done the same things the second time. Yes, for the last 4 years, I have been doing one film called Baahubali, Now there is a lot more time to do a lot more things, so I am excited. Golden time is all the time. Every film is cool and fun.
Can you tell us about your role in Dhanush's next with Gautham Menon?
That's a one-second cameo. It's not a role really. It's a shot for exactly 26 minutes. Gautam is a dear friend and when he asked me, if I could do this, I said yeah. It's not really anything of any meaning. It's not meaningful at all. It was just random call I got from Gautham saying, " Aye, are you free, want to do this? I said, " Okay, come, let's do it." and I did it. It is as basic as that.
How was Samantha-Naga Chaitanya's engagement? What's it like having Samantha as your to be sister in law?
It was very good. They are very happy. I am very happy that they are both happy. It's a great addition to the family. And obviously year of a wedding in our family is always most exciting. He's so close to me, so it's fun times ahead.
How was it working with Kay Kay Menon, Atul Kulkarni and Taapsee again?
Whether it's Atul, Kay Kay and Taapsee, I have worked them differently in different films. Not so much as I did on this one. For this film, Atul and Kay Kay have really been huge pillars of support while shooting this film because we were making it in two languages, we had to get it right both times. They would help me in terms of correcting script, correcting dialogue, making a scene far better than what it was written on paper. That functionality of an actor - they know that far better than anyone else. And as for Taapsee, it's my third film with her. I have worked with her in three different languages. Very happy to see what she has done. She's doing really well with all the stuff she has doing.
The Baahubali 2 posters have received mixed reviews. What's your take on it?
“That’s because A) It’s a world that you have seen so you will never be satisfied. We know this war, The same guy is coming. it’s not somebody else. Two of them were character posters but the third one was received extremely well – people were comparing it to Ram- Sita from Ramayan. It’s a different take, It’s the same world. You guys have seen these things before but you are just seeing older and cooler things. You have to wait for the trailer now to see the real stuff.”
Can you describe your journey so far in one word?
Is Rana Daggubati single or dating?
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