In his second Bollywood outing, Department, Rana Daggubati plays Shivnaryan, a junior cop frustrated with the corruption he sees around him. The role was initially offered to Abhishek Bachchan, but when he opted out over date issues, Ram Gopal Varma approached Rana. “Ramu has known me for years and he knows what I’m capable of. The overall script hasn’t changed, apart from there being a lot more action in my entry, as it is my forte,” says Rana, who bulked himself up for the role, doing long hours of agility training so he could race through the streets of Mumbai’s Bhendi Bazaar.
Shrugging off speculation that the three principal characters, played by Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt and him, have a real life muses, Rana insists that Department is a fictional drama revolving around a student cop, his mentor and larger-than-life politicians who play them like pawns. “I haven’t modelled myself on any particular cop. Instead what I have done is drawn inspiration from some of my cousins and distant relatives in Hyderabad who have been with the police force. I never understood the insecurities they face until I did the film,” he says.
Point out that he could be over-shadowed by Bachchan and Sanjay, Rana reasons that despite coming from an illustrious film family from down South, this is only his second Bollywood film. He adds that being part of a canvas this huge is a dream for any newcomer. “I know Department will be a step forward for me as an actor,” he says. “Ramu has a way of marrying commerce with realistic drama, remember Satya and Company? Department is no Singham or Wanted, but it’s a movie to watch out for.”
Department will be Rana’s fifth film, after three Telugu films and one Hindi movie. “I’ve beaten friends who came in before me in terms of numbers,” he says. “But I like to do one film at a time and right now it’s the Telugu film, Krishnam Vande Jagadhurum. In future. I would like to make stories that work in two-threelanguages. That will give my films a wider reach.”