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Rana Daggubati on being diagnosed with heart complications: ‘Films taught me to rise as a hero’

Rana Daggubati will be seen as Bandev in Prabu Solomon's Haathi Mere Saathi. In an interview with, he opened up on his battle with death, the upcoming film and much more.

Written by A. Kameshwari | New Delhi |
Updated: March 25, 2021 12:29:25 pm
rana daggubati haathi mere saathiRana Daggubati said working on Haathi Mere Saathi was a process of "spiritual learning" and "healing."

Actor Rana Daggubati believes working in a film like Haathi Mere Saathi is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He says it was not just a role but a process of “spiritual learning” and “healing.” The actor idolises Bandev (his character in Haathi Mere Saathi) and says people should look up to personalities like him. However, becoming Bandev was not a cakewalk for the actor. In an interview with, Rana opened up on how he transformed from being Baahubali’s Bhalladeva to Haathi Mere Saathi’s Bandev.

“When Prabu sir came to me with Haathi Mere Saathi, I was out of Baahubali, three times my size. I was playing the king of Mahishmati. So, of course, the look was different. We did one look test back then but Prabu sir was clear that it was not the way I needed to look. He was very definitive of how Bandev was. Then he started designing my look as per the jungle. He kept a couple of exercises for me when I reached Thailand. The first 10 days, I spent understanding who Bandev was, in terms of the way he walks, the way he spoke, his relationship with the wild. The first schedule of the film was for 25 days, during which I worked only with nature and the wilds. During that period, I didn’t have a co-star. So, those days set the tone of the character for me. So, I would say a week of workshop and around 25-30 days of the shoot made me Bandev,” the actor told us.

But there’s a reason why Prabu Solomon, the director, chose Rana to do the film. “He told me that he had the image of Charlton Heston from the 1956 film The Ten Commandments. He said he came to me because I looked a bit like him,” Rana chuckles.

The actor also called him a ‘dream director.’ “There were a lot of instructions before we started shooting but on the sets, he is a director who explores with you to do the next right thing. As we were shooting in three languages, we took time to understand and recognise the details. I remember, in the beginning, we did sequences in Tamil. If there were any alterations (in scenes), those were later adapted in Telugu and Hindi by the writers. He (Prabu Solomon) discovered the characters on the go. He did a lot of homework. So, honestly, it is a dream to work with him because when you are done with the film, you come out becoming a better person.”

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Prabu’s Haathi Mere Saathi shows Rana in a never-seen-before avatar. The actor said the reason why he chose to do the film was because of “the fact that there was a solid message in an adventurous film.” He said the concept “attracted me and excited me.”

“Bandev is a character I never even thought of. There are some characters you dream to do and some characters are beyond your thought process. This fell in the second space. Also, I would call Bandev the noblest character I have played on screen. He is fighting for nature, for the animals. He is fighting for the wild against society, which, in my perspective, is the need of the hour. Bandev is the kind of hero you want. I saw him in that perspective. So, I had to play him,” the Ghazi actor stated.

Further, Rana spoke about how being in a jungle for almost a year changed him as a person, “Even if you spend a week in the jungle and come back, you have a different mindset. You are calmer and peaceful. Once we were in the jungle without our phones, our thought process was to connect and delve into the character. For us, being connected to the character was very important. Yes, I have a lot going on in the real world. But the wild and the adventure was bliss.”

But were there any learnings in the process of making Haathi Mere Saathi? “Everything I did, I learned something or the other, right from my first film to now. With Haathi Mere Saathi, I changed as a person, as a human being. The way I see relationships, the way we treat humans, the perspective on everything changed. Also, you rarely see a film that is so connected to reality, to nature, to the earth. I am so satisfied with the whole experience,” the 36-year-old expressed.

The shooting period of Haathi Mere Saathi was also the time when Rana fell sick and had to take a break. On Samantha Akkineni’s talk show Sam Jam, Rana opened up on about the time he was diagnosed with heart complications and kidney failure.

Talking about his comeback, Rana said, “My films taught me to overcome the problems and rise as a hero. I am happy and thankful that Prabu sir waited that time and gave me time to heal. Also, the jungle became a big part of my healing.” When asked what gave him the power to get back on the sets right after dealing with his downtime, the actor said, “That’s the fun about reel world. Whatever happens in the real world, the reel doesn’t bother about it. When you are on the sets, you are good to go. So, I think that’s what films do to me.”

There is nothing that Rana hasn’t experimented with. He is a YouTuber, an actor, a producer and even a host. When asked about the multiple hats he wears, the Virata Parvam actor said, “If something fun comes up, I always want to delve. I will always want to explore the unexplored.”

The release of Haathi Mere Saathi has been postponed citing the increased cases of COVID-19. However, Kaadan and Aranya (the Tamil and Telugu versions) will release as scheduled.

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