Rana Daggubati of the smouldering good looks is in the news for reprising Aamir Khan’s role in Raakh in English. His shooting days as he calls them are vastly different from the days he is free. In a freewheeling chat, he talks about life as a film star.
Each day of the week is different. Today began at 6.30 am when I woke up and dubbed till 11.30 am. After the dubbing session I had a photo shoot and then had to give a couple of interviews to some TV channels. And now I am here, speaking to Channel 6. Once I am done, I have to rehearse for a song and then dub from 9 pm till about 12 or at least till my voice doesn’t give way. This is just what today is like.
There are days when I shoot and days when I don’t. A day when I have to shoot is a little more organised because I have to report by a certain call time. In Hyderabad it’s 7 am, in Mumbai it’s 9 am. I’m up by 5.30 – 6 in the morning on most shooting days. I train prior to the shoot for 45 minutes to an hour. I run for a while and then do some basic workouts. I eat about 5-6 meals a day, breakfast being the largest since I need to be active the whole day. It’s the largest carbohydrate meal I eat in the day. It’s usually oatmeal, eggs, fruit juice and fruit. After breakfast, I head to the set or location. Around 11, I have a protein shake. One good thing is we all have lunch breaks at 1 pm sharp. Lunch is heavy on protein — 300-400 gms of fish and lot of greens depending on how I’m feeling that day. If there’s an action sequence or song to be shot, it is usually more tiresome and cardio-vascular in nature. Then I ensure there’s a lot of carb intake. Post-noon, I don’t eat any carbs unless I do a little bingeing here and there. We shoot till about 6 pm. I usually have a set of training clothes in the car and go straight to the gym, train and then home. If I go home, I know I’ll never get to the gym.
I have a trainer and nutritionist — Lakshman Reddy — who designs my diet but he’s not on the sets with me. He’s there with me every time I’m training. If I’m not in Hyderabad he travels with me, wherever I go. A silver medallist in the Mr India contest, he’s also a professional body builder.
I don’t unwind or switch off from my shoot because there is usually a rough run-through about what I will be doing the next day. Generally I chat with the DOP and director. That goes on for a while as we take stock of what happened that day – the good, the bad, how we can fix things. It usually ends with that. This is what we did, this is what we’ll end up with tomorrow. Much as I like to sleep early, invariably it is 12.30 or 1 by the time I do so. Generally dinner is very light – protein, chicken or fish and some greens around it for colour.
When I’m not in Hyderabad I watch a lot of films and read a lot. My credit card is permanently on Amazon — there are always new buys and I’m constantly picking up stuff. Things that I read and films that I watch will be closer to the genre of the film I’m doing because somewhere it will influence me in some strange way.
There is an order and protocol on how I do things on a shooting day. A non-shooting day is a mess. Since I am shooting for 200-250 days in a year, I am used to functioning like that. Even when there is no shooting, I wake up by 5.30 – 6 am. I hang around my room doing nothing. Then I go back to sleep. Then I wake up around 8 – 9 am. Again it’s based on whether I have work or not. If I don’t have any work I relax at home till about 10. Then I go to the studio.
My diet doesn’t change much. I cheat once a week and binge with a heavy meal. That’s what I do to break the routine and get back into the groove. Luckily I don’t have a sweet tooth, so I don’t eat or crave sweets.
I live with my grandparents. The entire household follows call sheet timing because everyone goes to work. All of us wake up and eat breakfast roughly at the same time. If the location in Hyderabad is close to my place, I go back home for lunch. That’s one advantage I have in Hyderabad as opposed to Mumbai where if I am out, I am out the whole day. Dinner on non-shooting days is usually at home.
My grandparents prefer that I stay busy with work. They think I’m more organised and disciplined when I’m working. In Mumbai I spend a lot of my time in the car. I don’t mind reaching the location an hour or two early if I get to beat the traffic. So I just leave early – I hang around the unit at the location and it’s more fun than sitting in the car. I’m never in Mumbai when I’m not shooting. I live in a hotel when I am there and if I’m not shooting, I’m back in Hyderabad the next day.
My forthcoming films have a lot of action so I have started training extensively in martial arts. I enjoy it and it has become a new skill that I have learnt. Sometimes I do get involved in the film process. At some stage I am expected to do that since I come with the understanding based on my background.
When I am in town, I also make it a point to hang out with my friends. We like going to N and our usual haunts which we’ve always been going to or at someone’s house. I still go out whenever I feel like going out. Earlier I never used to be written about. Now I’m written about but that hasn’t stopped me from changing my routine in any form.
The one place where we hang out the most is my Dad’s room. Most of us — my cousins, brother and sister are always there. I use my room only to sleep. I’m in his room till my mom throws me out. My mother is now used to me and Dad ( D Suresh Babu) talking and even when the lights are on she falls asleep. If it’s past midnight, she starts turning the lights off.
My grandfather (D Rama Naidu) follows the most principled life. Usually if I’m close to his room, I don’t talk as he wakes up with the slightest sound. We are mostly with him during meal times. My uncle Venkatesh follows a discipline zone similar to my grandfather’s. We don’t live together – he lives close by and most of the cousins (his children) are always at home with my grandfather and grandmother. When I’m not at home, I’m at the studio where all three — my grandfather, my father and I — of us are there again. Either at the dining table or conference table, it’s still the same people!
At the end of each day, I make it a point to think about how much better I have improved from yesterday. Did I learn anything today which I can ultimately use? That’s pretty much how I look at each day.