Rana Daggubati who essays a ‘Forest Man’ named Kaadan in a role inspired by environmental activist and forestry worker Jadav Payeng, in a trilingual flick Kaadan in Tamil, Aranya in Telugu and Haathi Mere Saathi in Hindi, was in the city to promote the film.
The actor said the film directed by Prabhu Solomon was 10 times tougher than Baahubali. “The experiences working in Kaadan taught me life lessons.” He tells DC as to how he misses Chennai, how he has been yearning to do a Tamil film for the last 10 years and how he finally landed with this film.
“It’s been a long since I came to Chennai. I used to think if I ever would get a bigger mass film than Baahubali in my career. Prabhu Solomon sir changed that in just a week’s time. Till then I used to tell Rajamouli sir that we worked very hard for 5 years. After the Kaadan experience, I called Rajamouli and said that ‘you created a kingdom and a statue for me sir, but Prabhu sir has taken me and simply left me in a vast forest terrain (laughs),” Rana says.
While his macho physique and height was the reason for Prabhu to cast him in Kaadan, Rana has his own version. “I have been coming to Chennai to get a chance in Tamil cinema. If I get time between shootings I just catch a flight to Chennai to meet directors. I always wanted to do a Tamil film, which never worked. This is what my appa Suresh Babu advised me about Tamil cinema five years ago. He said, ‘Tamil cinema believes in literature storytelling and content which is much deeper.’ It took me all these ten years to understand that and after making mistakes for me get a film like Kaadan.”
The Ghazhi actor adds, “I always believe that it’s not the storyteller who finds the story; it is the story that finds them. This film literally proved that. Ten years back I did a film called Leader, which was produced by AVM. I also believe in right time and right space. Kaadan story brought an actor from Telugu - me, an actor from Tamil -Vishnu Vishal, an ace filmmaker Prabhu Solomon from Tamil and a producer Eros International from Mumbai. Hence, I realised the power of the story is much bigger than all of us.”
He goes on to add, “I am a fan of doing a film with story that suits in many languages. Eventually, a movie with good content will reach wider audiences. And, now I am doing a film in a triple language for the first time.”
Heaping praise on Prabhu Solomon, Rana said, “Prabhu sir is one who ‘finals’ the dialogues only on the sets even though the lines are given to us in advance.
Tamil used to be my first take, that’s when Prabhu sir and me would get the rhythm. It would go at least for 30 takes. And then we go for Telugu, which will go for 10 takes and later the Hindi ordeal starts. If finally, the Hindi shot comes out well, then Prabhu would want a retake for Tamil. That way, the shooting was going on for several days. He is a perfectionist. We shot for almost for 200 days in seven different jungles including in Thailand.”
It seems the film has high-octane tough action blocks. “We did an action sequence with a 300-foot tree, which was mind-blowing. The base was shot in Thailand, middle was in Kerala and yet another part of the tree, which was 150 feet, was erected as a set. Sam and Stun Siva were the masters. But for them, the film’s death defying stunts wouldn’t have been possible.”
On Vishnu Vishal who plays a mahout he said, “My most fun guy on the sets was Vishnu. He was a chilled out person.” Explaining why he agreed to do the film, he said, “Kaadan is toughest and biggest mass film I have ever done. This is the most important film for me, the story of which needs to be told.
Prabhu sir is the greatest teacher. He taught me life, how important is environment to us, and how important we are to the environment. He tells us ‘nature takes care of everything’. But in today’s scenario, we need to take care of nature. That’s the reason I am part of this film. I am hoping this film can influence many more people and we see a much more beautiful world where man and animal coexist very beautifully. It’s a soulful film, where a man who fights for elephants against the society for their wrongdoings. This film will be a benchmark film for future films of this genre. In Kaadan, I will have a disconnected connection with the elephants. But personally, I became very close to all the elephants. I even learnt their sign language”
Recalling an incident, he revealed, “Animals know lot more than us. Elephants are fond of apples. When we gave apple to the main elephant, which we named Tamizh in the film, he literally crushed it under his feet. Prabhu was wondering and he took some more apples and realised that there was wax coating on it and hence that the tusker was rejecting it. He removed the coating and peeled off the skin and fed Tamizh and he was too happy to consume them all.”
“This film comes so solidly into you. Fighting for animals against man is itself something which is totally new, and that’s what you take from this film,” Rana signs off.