At the trailer launch of Netflix’s upcoming show Rana Naidu, starring Rana Daggubati and his real-life uncle, Venkatesh Daggubati, in the lead roles, the cast talked about their characters and their experiences on set.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything better than Rana Naidu,” said Rana Daggubati, who plays the titular character, recounting the experience of working with his uncle, Venkatesh Daggubati, who plays the role of his father in the show.
“From the time I kind of made it in my career, I knew I’d do that (work with his uncle) at some point in my life, and I just wanted it to not be cliché.” He added that he wanted his and his uncle’s character to be the kind of characters that they could consistently revisit.
When questioned about the challenges he faced while preparing for the role, Rana said, “Well, first, the fact that somebody I love the most in my life I have to hate in the show. It was very hard to use foul language because it was stressing him (Venkatesh), it was stressing me too.”
Cursing in Hindi was still fine, but the real challenge for him was cursing at his uncle in Telugu. Apart from this, it all came together with the help of the directors. He then added, “It was a far more fulfilling experience for me to work with my uncle here this time than it would ever be in a film.”
While describing his experience of acting for the first time in a show that will be released on an OTT platform, he talked about being used to stories that only last for three hours. On the other hand, for a show, the approach to the characters has to be very different.
“What was extremely difficult is, usually, (for) each film, each character, there is one director that comes and talks to you. Now you have two directors who are extremely opposite to one another.”
Superstar Venkatesh Daggubati, mainly known for his roles in Telegu films, plays Naga Naidu, the antagonistic father of Rana Naidu, in the show.
“I have done many characters, but this character has been really special,” he stated while talking about his character. He further called his character unusual and unpredictable. Since the character was so different, he took it up as a challenge.
According to him, the character has multiple shades and emotions; he has a bit of both good and bad in him. While the character is entertaining, it is also intimidating. Wherever Naga goes, trouble follows.
“He’s quite a fun guy, but you’re gonna hate him at times, (and) you’re gonna love him at times. That’s the best part.”
The last time he acted in Hindi films, the roles he played were extremely different from this role. He remarked, “This is some kind of jump for me. It was crazy, it was wild, and I’m so glad I got into this wonderful series.”
While discussing his nephew’s part, he complimented, “He has done a wonderful job.” However, their first project together is not the usual family drama the audience would have expected them to do. Instead, “This (Rana Naidu) was really hard-hitting with some hard-hitting dialogues.”
He added that the two directors, Karan Anshuman and Suparn Varma, were more confident than he was in his ability to play Naga. In fact, he was surprised that he could express those particular emotions and feelings the way that he did.
“There was some magic happening out there, I could see on the sets, and I just loved it,” said the actor.
Monika Shergill, the vice president for content at Netflix India, also stated, “There is what you write on paper, and there is the magic you see on screen, and I think Rana Naidu just packs in every bit of entertainment and plot twists and thrilling.”
Shergill also spoke about Rana Naidu as a phenomenal crossover opportunity between the north and the south of the country. “The very first and it is the very first PAN-India show that any streaming service is doing.”
Karan Anshuman called the show “a big fun action masala entertainer”. He further added, “The story is pretty layered, it’s pretty breakneck, and there is lots of surprises at every turn. I think the one real surprise element is Venky Mama, who is really gonna surprise a lot of people going forward.”
When the subject of adapting Ray Donovan to the Indian setting came up, he commented, “I just felt that it was completely misplaced in LA set, and it lends itself up so much better to the Indian milieu.”
He explained that since the show is about complex family dynamics and extremes, it is better suited to an Indian setting, where people in families are expected to respect others, even though beneath that respect, there is a completely different story.
However, the show was not adapted without making the necessary changes. “There are lots of changes, and if you’re asking if you have gone there, then yes, we have gone there, and we have gone beyond,” said Anshuman.
While talking about the actors stepping out of their comfort zone for the show, Varma remarked, “It’s really been a leap of faith for every single actor.”
On the subject of working with the uncle-nephew duo, Sunder Aaron, the producer of the show said, “I wish I could say it was hard. It was easy; they are absolute professionals.”
Surveen Chawla, who plays the role of Naina Naidu, talked about her character as well. She called her character fierce, strong, soft, and vulnerable. “What I like most about her is that I find her pretty fearless in making sacrifices towards her topmost priority, which is her kids and her family,” added Chawla.
Gaurav Chopra also talked about the relationship between his character and the protagonist, “He brings along Rana with him from Hyderabad, so they share a journey, they share a bond, they also share a past that they would like to forget.”
Chopra describes his character as “very, very layered and very complicated and so much fun to play, completely out of my comfort zone”.
“I think Rana, the character, the elder brother, is quite cool,” said Abhishek Banerjee, who plays the protagonist’s younger brother in the show. He talked about the protagonist as someone a younger brother would probably want to grow up to be.
When questioned about playing a gray character in the show, Ashish Vidyarthi stated, “ I really enjoyed this role because it’s not just black, it’s gray, and it’s comical.”
Additionally, the cast dropped hints about a secret playlist that they used on the set to set the right mood. “You’ll start a family feud if you ask us about the playlist because everybody has different versions of it,” joked Varma.
An adaptation of an American crime drama, Ray Donovan, Rana Naidu follows the story of a “fixer”, a man who fixes the problems of celebrities. However, there is a problem of his own that he cannot fix — his father, who wreaks havoc in his life after getting released from prison.
Rana Naidu will stream on Netflix from March 10.
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