Drama and vengeance in sequel to battle epic

Indian actor Rana Daggubati plays the vengeful king in Baahubali: The Beginning and the followup Baahubali: The Conclusion.
Indian actor Rana Daggubati plays the vengeful king in Baahubali: The Beginning and the followup Baahubali: The Conclusion. PHOTO: TAMIL MURASU

Indian actor Rana Daggubati is clearly excited about his upcoming film. Baahubali: The Conclusion is the follow-up to last year's special effects-laden battle epic Baahubali: The Beginning, which is the third highest-grossing Indian film with 600 crores (S$123 million) earned at the box office.

"The first film was merely a trailer to what the sequel is," he says confidently. The movie is about two brothers at war for control over an ancient kingdom.

"In part one, you understood characters, you understood the world, but now what you will see is a lot more drama and vengeance and the conclusion of that story.

"There's a lot more coming."

While the sequel is being filmed at Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad, the actor raves about the film as if he has already seen the final cut.

"Obviously, we're trying to beat what we did in part one. We know where we're heading and the vision with which (director) Rajamouli has designed the film, so we know it's much larger than part one," he says, adding the new film has more knowledgeable technicians working on it, including people who have worked on movies such as X-Men and HBO series Game Of Thrones.

The 31-year-old actor stars as Bhallala Deva, a villainous and vengeful king, in the Telugu production, which was dubbed into Tamil, Hindi and Malayalam. The Conclusion is due out in April next year.

With a budget of 1.2 billion rupees (S$24.6 million), the two-parter Baahubali project is considered the most expensive Telugu film made to date, combining Hollywood's grandeur with decidedly Indian mythology.

For his role as Bhallala Deva, one of the two warring brothers in The Beginning, Daggubati has been nominated for Best Actor in a Negative Role at this year's South Indian International Movie Awards (Siima).

At the two-day awards event, which will be held on June 30 and July 1 at Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre, he is also doubling as its host.

Daggubati, who also hosted the awards show in 2013, says that the South Indian movie event is bigger than the popular Indian International Film Awards (Iifa).

"There are four times more top stars, directors and films, and an attendance of four industries. So, it's actually four times bigger than what Iifa is," he tells The Straits Times during a visit to announce Singapore as the host city for this year's Siima.

Siima celebrates the Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam film industries of South India. The Iifa Awards, on the other hand, focuses on only Hindi-language cinema.

On a lighter note, Daggubati says it is the after-parties he looks forward to at these awards shows.

"The after-parties are the reason why I'm at most of these awards shows, whether I'm winning or not," he quips.

In the meantime, it is back to the gym for the 1.91m-tall actor who has a short time to prepare for his return to the Baahubali set. He describes his training regimen and preparations as rigorous.

"I have 11/2 months to get to the biggest size I can, then there're weapons training and the rest of the drill," he explains.

He does not expect it to be tough to slip back into the groove of intense fight sequences and long days on set.

"Once you put the armour back on, you're fine, it's like a homecoming," he says.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2016, with the headline Drama and vengeance in sequel to battle epic. Subscribe