Rana Daggubati is confident about 'Aranya', which will release in theatres on March 26. In this interview, he talks about the film and his association with Prabhu Solomon, who researched a great deal on the man-animal conflicts for the film.
We have seen films where the war is about land, property, etc. But what about a fight for the sake of the planet? 'Aranya' is about one such man. That's what made me take up this project.
Animals don't have a language. But they connect with the universe and communicate with humans by understanding the vibes/energies. They go by gauging your energy.
I used to carry a banana and jaggery in my pocket when I was with elephants just to be safe. One day, when a banana was accidentally seen through the pocket of my dress, a herd of elephants playfully started walking towards me. I was scared.
When our habitat is destroyed, we do dharnas to reclaim them. Elephants can't do that. My character in the movie is given the title of 'Forest Man of India'. That's when he comes to be called Aranya. The film is not based on Jadhav Payeng, the real life Forest Man.
We had no choice other than to shoot the film in the jungles. Prabhu Solomon is a very detailed person. One of the scenes begins at a forest in Kerala. The scene ends with a shot canned in Mahabaleswar. I must mention Resul Pookutty's contribution, too, in this regard.
No matter how much times change, our relationship with the forest will never change. We need to tell stories of this kind to the new generation. So, 'Aranya' is not the same as the old animal-based movies.
Some films get completed pretty fast, for example, 'Virata Parvam'. 'Baahubali' took a lot of time. The research for 'Aranya' took four years for Prabhu Solomon.
'Bobbili Raja' was not about the forest. 'Aranya' is a forest story. It also involves anti-establishment forces (Maoists). There are corporates, too, looking at corporatizing the forest. The elephants in 'Aranya' react naturally. The first 30 days of the shoot involved just me and the animals. I was talking with elephants for the scenes. The scenes in the film are wild and raw.
I got married after shooting for 'Aranya' in the forest. So, the forest has surely changed me (laughs).
It's nice to be working with Pawan Kalyan garu on the remake of 'Ayyappanum Koshiyum'. It's a unique film for him. In Hindi, I got to work with Amitabh Bachchan garu in the past. And in Telugu, I am working with the big star. He is an original thinker.
The pandemic has changed our thinking and expectations from movies. Small subjects have now to be made for OTT only. Cinema has to be visually huge.