In a recent interview, Rana Daggubati, the popular Indian actor known for his role in the blockbuster film Baahubali, shed light on the financial challenges faced by the makers of the epic franchise. He also addressed the issue of nepotism prevalent in the Telugu film industry.
Baahubali, starring Rana Daggubati and Prabhas, is widely regarded as a game-changer for the Indian entertainment industry and is expected to be remembered as a landmark film for years to come. However, the grand scale of the project placed an immense financial burden on the filmmakers. As Rana revealed, since the Telugu industry did not follow a studio model at the time, the production team had to borrow substantial amounts of money from banks at high interest rates.
During the interview, Rana discussed the financial realities of the Telugu film industry. He stated, “Three-four years ago, where was money in the movies coming from? It was either their (filmmaker’s) house or their property that was pledged to the bank, made on interest, and it comes back. We used to pay around 24-28 per cent interest. That’s the borrowing in films. For a film like Baahubali, a borrowing of Rs 300-400 crore at that interest.”
Rana further shared details about the challenges faced during the release of the first part of Baahubali. The makers had borrowed over Rs 180 crore at a staggering 24 percent interest rate over a period of five and a half years. He emphasized that the budget for the film exceeded twice the amount of the highest-grossing film in Telugu cinema. The financial risks taken were significant, and the success of the film was uncertain. “So no math ever made justification of what we borrowed, how we made it. It was 180 crore plus borrowed at 24 percent interest over five-and-a-half years. We shot a little bit of Baahubali 2 as well, so if this film didn’t work, we didn’t know what would happen,” Rana stated.
Apart from discussing the financial aspects, Rana was also questioned about nepotism in the film industry, including the Telugu film industry. He acknowledged that there has never been a systematic organizational process in the entertainment world. It has always been independent producers or talented individuals forming groups and building their organizations. However, Rana emphasized that the current time presents an opportunity to create an industry that unifies the diverse talents across India.
When asked about the playing field for individuals from film families versus those without connections, Rana admitted that film families have an advantage due to their strong network. He commented, “People in the world of film families might not be great actors, but they’ll be great agents. It’s because everybody knows everybody. It’s like every other industry, it’s the people you know.”