IT IS difficult to write about someone you haven't met or seen on the big screen before. So what is it that attracts me to write about Rana Daggubati, the new powerhouse of talent to explode in Dum Maaro Dum? The reason is his look in the teaser trailer of his debut Hindi film.
There is a moment in it where you see a glimpse of Rana's despair, and all you ever wanted to know of his acting prowess can be witnessed in his eyes.
While some actors appear rather complacent during their pre-release interviews, Rana, it seems to me, is still hungry, still 'excited to do something good' which, when you hear him speak, is reflected in his baritone voice.
When you see the trailer, with his warm, brown eyes, he exudes huge charisma and charm; and whether he believes it or not, Dum Maaro Dum will only increase his allure with the opposite sex when it is released on April 22.
DEVANSH PATEL: How did Dum Maaro Dum find you?
RANA DAGGUBATI: (laughs) That's a nice way of putting it. I was doing my film Leader down south and I had finished my dubbing and the trailers were out, and I got a call from Rohan Sippy, who asked me whether I wanted to be a part of Dum Maaro Dum.
He sent me the script of the film. I read it and was blown away by his and the writer, Sridhar's, take on Goa. I liked the way he had weaved the fictional story into the real backdrop. It had a classic ensemble cast and I couldn't say no.
DP: The promo says that every paradise has snakes. Are you one of them?
RD: Oh no! I play a guy called DJ Joki in the film. He is somebody whose heart and soul is Goa. Joki is born and brought up in Goa. He knows everything in and around Goa. But in a beautiful island like Goa, there are always a few snakes. Just like every paradise has snakes. He is around these bad guys but not a part of them. He is a guy who never takes anything on a personal level. He has to stay that way or try and work his way around that. But, I cannot reveal more as it's a thriller.
DP: Bipasha Basu plays your love interest. Was it difficult to concentrate on the scenes?
RD: (laughs) I met Bipasha for the first time on the sets of the film. Yes, I had a few reading sessions and workshops with her and the cast in Goa. We reached Goa a bit early and did a scene rehearsing on the sets, which was a very good way of getting into the character and the moment. Bipasha is such a fine actor and she is looking beautiful in this film.
DP: Is Rohan Sippy a big fan of thriller films?
RD: I don't know, but I know that he made Bluffmaster very well. Dum Maaro Dum and Bluffmaster are two different treatments given to the same genre - thriller. Dum Maaro Dum is an action thriller while Bluffmaster was a comic thriller. The style of narrating a scene and then editing it is so uniquely done in Dum Maaro Dum that it's the first of its kind. I cannot compare it to any Hindi film.
DP: Do you, or did you, research a bit about your character?
RD: I watch a lot of Hollywood films for my character reference when I work on South Indian films. But for Dum Maaro Dum, I couldn't find any reference because everything was so new and never seen before on celluloid. You just had to sit and listen to Rohan guiding you to be the best on the set.
DP: The songs are the USP of this film. What's your favourite track?
RD: The songs from this film have been in my head for most of the last year (laughs). The title track of Dum Maaro Dum, Mit Jaaye Gham, is my favourite. I also like Jaana Hai. But I'd like to talk about the title track, which was inspired by the old Hindi track from a Dev Anand film made in the 70s. Old will always be gold. Dum Maaro Dum is one of composer Pritam's most versatile albums. He has also composed a Konkani song which I had to lip-sync to and it was tough (laughs).
DP: How was it facing the feared cop of your film, Abhishek Bachchan?
RD: Not scary at all (laughs). There was so much comfort I shared with him on and off the sets. I'm not from Mumbai. I am from the South Indian Film Industry and, out here, nobody speaks
our language. Abhishek never made me feel like an outsider. Just the way he puts this across is so good. There is no doubt in the way he talks, and the statements he makes are very clear. I like that clarity in Abhishek and there's so much to learn from him.
DP: Do you think a film like this will cross over to Western audiences?
RD: Dum Maaro Dum is set in Goa and it's an action thriller. This same story could've been told in Brazil or Hyderabad. That's not the point. The point is that it is made in Goa, and any audience that sees this film will be transported right into Goa. It will appeal to one and all for its edginess and Goan delicacies (laughs).
Whether or not it will cross over to Western audiences, we will have to wait and see.