Rana Daggubati on Baahubali 2: This is not Game of Thrones, India’s story-telling tradition is far greater

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With Baahubali 2 just a few days from release, actor Rana Daggubati is beaming with pride and excitement. The actor who plays the film’s baddie, Bhallaladeva, is still high on energy at 9 in the evening when we met him for a chat on the film, this coming after almost eight hours of other interviews.
“Right now, it’s plain excitement ahead of the release. We are very excited about how the product has shaped up and we want everyone to see that very soon,” Rana began, as he settled for a conversation before catching a flight to Hyderabad. Besides the obvious anticipation of how the second part of this mammoth franchise turn out, Rana has his eyes set on the box-office numbers too, and he is certain that the movie will beat the first part.“Success is defined in some way by the box-office, in fact in large ways. When we set out to make the first film, we wanted to make the biggest war film in the country and we achieved that. We didn’t have any number in mind. Now, we have to beat the first film by making an even better war film. We have to beat our own film and we know we have done that because we have seen that we could finish the second part conveniently and could get far better things this time and we got a greater product,” he said.The first film released in 2015, in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi, and thanks to director SS Rajamouli’s vision and its sheer scale, soon the whole country caught its fever. Among all the other things that the nation supposedly wanted to know, there was also one important question, ‘Why did Katappa kill Baahubali?’ The second part is coming after two years, but the time gap hasn’t lessened the excitement among the audience. Rana calls this a blessing. “It’s huge! Somebody holding on to a franchise for two years is a blessing in every which way. They loved the film, the characters and us, which is why they are holding on to it. We just hoped that we get done with the film in time with their interest still there.”
Playing Bhallala Deva, the man whose muscle power far exceeds his brains causing him more harm than good, Rana has made a permanent place in the audience’s heart and he is aware that such a film or a character doesn’t happen everyday. “I had to go through generations of Baahubalis to finish this franchise! At an age like this, I never expected to play a role so solid like this. That’s the kind of stuff you don’t really expect to get. So, I am very happy with what I got. Everyone owns a piece of the film and we own it very specifically to ourselves.”
Baahubali is surely a milestone in Rana’s career, but the 32-year-old actor doesn’t think it will be right to call the movie a benchmark in his filmography. “Not really… It’s not often that films like Baahubali come your way. So, you can’t compare our other films with this. Like I did a film recently, Ghazi Attack. Before letting him go, it was important to ask him about the numerous comparisons between his movie and American fantasy series Game of Thrones, and while Rana has words of praise for the TV show, he also has a strong point to make. “I don’t think we can call Baahubali the Indian version of Game of Thrones.

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