'Virata Parvam' is hitting the cinemas on June 17. In this interview, Rana Daggubati talks about the film, what sets it apart from other such movies, the flavour of the film, working with Sai Pallavi, his future projects, and more.
In the past few years, I have been shooting in forests (for films like 'Aranya' and 'Virata Parvam'). 'VP' is not told like a hero's story or a heroine's story. Ravanna (Rana's name in the movie) is a member of a Dalam and he is seen as such.
'Virata Parvam' tells an extremely deep love story. How far one can go for love's sake and what all sacrifices you can make is what the film is about. When I read the story for the first time, the script left a heavy feeling in me. I felt empty inside. It felt like someone threw me into the middle of the ocean. It's the first time I had listened to such a story.
Naxals used to be anti-Establishment with a definite motive, caring nothing for personal relationships. Their world was filled with their agenda. 'VP' explores the moral conflict between being human and clinging to something we believe in.
Only cinema can recreate the past visually. 'VP' is set in the 1990s. We know only the highlights of the Naxal movement. We know nothing about the lifestyle of Naxals, etc. 'VP' doesn't get into such detailing either. In 'VP', a political drama unfolds in the background, while the love story runs in the foreground.
Ravanna is an inspired character. By education, he is a doctor. How he became a poet because of the social realities of his time and how he eventually took to Maoism is interesting. The love scenes and the naxal scenes are both realistic. There are no unrealistic elements. The intensity is heightened regardless of the nature of the emotions. Since the film is set in the 1990s, how Naxals lived back in those days is also explored.
'VP' is nowhere a propaganda film. The title suggests the 'virata parvam' in Vennela's life. Like Pandavas in the Mahabharata, Naxals in this film are in exile.
Literature has a prime place in 'VP'. Director Venu Udugula has a literary bent of mind. Given the nature of 'VP', we are not releasing the film in non-Telugu languages in a hurry. Eventually, 'VP' will be dubbed into Malayalam, Bengali, etc.
Sai Pallavi is a fabulous actress. 'VP' is a deep film that is centered around her character. Only she could have played Vennela. She is a pure person by heart. She is a very simple woman. I don't know whether someone else could have played Ravanna, but only Pallavi can be Vennela.
Besides Ravanna and Vennela, the story of 'VP' is also driven by the characters played by Priyamani and others. Priyamani speaks softly with Vennela, she gets commanding in some other situation. Zarina Wahab plays my mother. 'VP' is a big women's film. I genuinely feel women will connect with its emotions on a thorough level.
During the height of the pandemic, everything looked uncertain. Our production house was doing 11 films. At that time, direct OTT releases were mooted. 'VP' is being released at the right time in theatres.
'VP' creates an experience by sucking you into its world. In usual love stories, everything that is commercial is packed. 'VP' is a love story that is packaged differently. Danger is always around, lurking around the main characters.
Two cinematographers have done cinematography. Dani Sanchez-Lopez is the first. Like Venu, Dani is a poetic person. He gets emotional if the script is moving. His shots are detailed and specific. He first studies the location before canning a scene. Because of the pandemic, we couldn't bring him to India due to Visa issues. This is when Divakar Mani was roped in for the remaining portions.
I became an actor to tell new stories. I am here for the long haul. I need not play male lead roles for bringing out something new. I am going to do movies with extreme action and violence. 'Hiranyakashyapa' is going to be very commercial and it's my kind of commercial cinema. I am not the kind of audience who likes to watch a commercial song in the middle of something. I don't like to tease the heroine in my films.
I want to avoid repeating genres. If a script suits some other actor better than me, I want that actor to do it. I want to do scripts that suit only me! Daniel Sekhar in 'Bheemla Nayak' was complex and therefore more fun to play.
I am one of the producers of 'VP'. There is a voice to my films as a producer. I have associated my name with just three other films: 'Bommalata', 'Care Of Kanchapalem' and '777 Charlie'. My productions are always distinctive.
I am going to do 'Amar Chitra Katha' next year. I need to bulk up for it. It will go on the floors in March next year. It's a single-part movie that will be made on a high budget. Projects of this kind need elaborate pre-production because the making involves high-tech. You get to virtually watch the entire film from start to end before the film goes on the floors.
'Rana Naidu' is my first collaboration with Babai (Venkatesh). It is a Netflix original. We both are playing characters with grey shades. It's a crime and family drama. The first season comprises 10 episodes. You need a different style of writing and drama to engage the viewer for 12 hours. You can't write like you do for a 3-hour feature film.
Whether a film has to be pan-India or not is something the script should decide. You can't pre-determine its scale. You will end up in a pan fry (laughs).
My brother Abhiram is doing a film with director Teja. That's his debut movie. It's in the last leg of the shoot.
In recent times, I really enjoyed 'Vikram'. I have been heavily influenced by Kamal Haasan's body of work.