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We Need Stories That Bring Us Together: Rana Daggubati

At the BW Disrupt 40 under 40 awards Rana Daggubati had a candid conversation with Annurag Batra, Chairman and Editor in Chief BW Businessworld, share his success mantra of life

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The Bahubali actor Rana Daggubati was an entrepreneur way before he became an actor. Today he straddles both spheres effortlessly - entertainment and tech.

Daggubati believes that we need stories that bring us together and that’s why he's investing in entertainment start-ups.

His background is steeped in production for a couple of generations.

Suresh productions were started by his father and grandfather and are a 56 years old traditional film company doing film productions and working in film infrastructure.  It makes 4-5 films regionally or nationally each year and they support that content for which they are the distributors, exhibitors and syndicate the content fully.

He is associated and invested in Kwan South an agency that they built with the help of KWAN which was an already existing talent management company of film industry in Bombay. For films itself, it’s almost like a marketplace where you can come for content which they help filmmaker’s across whether it’s from an idea to become a full-length feature film, whether it needs funding, talent, literature helps.

Anthill is the technology partner for all these companies also co-owned by Daggubati. Through this venture, they invest in multiple startups in the technology space for media and entertainment like augmented reality, virtual reality, and comics and publishing. So, Anthill is the technology arm for all of this.

Working in both short and long storytelling formats. At the recent BW Disrupt 40 under 40 awards he had a candid conversation with Annurag Batra, Chairman and Editor in Chief BW Businessworld.

Rana is an eligible bachelor and happily single enjoying the fruits of his work carefree for now.

“I have a while to go,” he said on the topic of marriage. Not in any rush to tie the knot.

While he loves both acting and entrepreneurship, it is telling stories and how they are made that he enjoys more.

He believes that being an actor is nobler, “When I start playing characters that I am not. It is much bigger than I am. The character lasts much longer than me,” he shared. Giving top preference to the character that he played in his debut movie Leader.

He credits the entrepreneurial bug to his father and grandfather. “My fathers eye to detailing business and storytelling has made him last in a line of business where the success rate is barely 5%. He asks the right questions if I answer most of his questions I am sorted,” he said. Though he personally raises capital outside.

On exiting his studio Prime Focus, he attributes the success to the right timing.

What he learned from the exit apart from timing was the importance of keeping at it, raising more capital and judging better ways of exiting.

Highlighting the importance of project management skills, financial discipline and balancing both the art and commerce skills consistently.

“Money is keeping the scorecard high. One needs to be financially disciplined. Cinema is the keeper of the art. The other half is economy,” he said.

His success mantra is positivity passion and perseverance. “You keep changing and adapting as a storyteller. I started as a star wars watcher. Simple as that. My family has done this for years. I could understand it. As you keep working, you find what you want to do. Eventually, it does not work it becomes who you are,” he shared philosophically.

On his role models in Bollywood, he is an admirer of Akshay Kumar's discipline, something that he wants to adapt in his lifestyle too.

Karan Johar's ability to consistently change with the times is something he appreciates too.

His grandfather, Kishore Biyani and George Lucas are his other role models who continue to inspire him.

Rana shared that he is on the lookout to invest in tech startups in media. He said that he decides to put money in projects where he thinks storytelling can be told better.

Virtual reality, Bloc change and anybody who is looking at monetizing content in the best format in the OTT space and gaming are on his radar.

His words of wisdom as an entrepreneur are “As long as a firm on your vision of what you want with an open mind there is so much more than you will learn.”

Sharing his plans as an entrepreneur 5 years from now he said that his mission is trying to change the narrative in terms of understanding Indian mythology. He hopes to be part of commissioning a lot of work in the Transmedia world, hugely in the content space.

He wants to catalyze change in the industry and hopes that regional content gets much more attention and wants it to go national and international.

“Art does not have boundaries. Ultimately what the story is will stand out. So I hope for no boundaries to exist due to language,” he expressed.

And for all those budding entrepreneurs out there he recommends reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, which will give you a perspective on where you are and what you got you here.

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BW Disrupt 40 under 40 Rana Daggubati