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Exclusive! Taraka Ratna on 9 Hours: I'm happy directors like Krish are still thinking about me while writing characters

The Okato Number Kurradu, Amaravathi actor makes his digital debut with the crime thriller 9 Hours on Disney+ Hotstar

  • Srivathsan Nadadhur

Last Updated: 07.55 PM, Jun 01, 2022

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Exclusive! Taraka Ratna on 9 Hours: I'm happy directors like Krish are still thinking about me while writing characters
Taraka Ratna

If there was one word that could describe (NTR's grandson) Taraka Ratna's career in a nutshell, it would be perseverance. His tryst with cinema took off amidst great enthusiasm with Okato Number Kurradu though the box office wasn't quite kind to his future projects later. He made a surprising comeback in a negative role with Ravi Babu's Amaravathi and sparkled in Raja Garu Cheyyi Vesthe but apart from these brief spurts, consistency hasn't exactly been his strength.

He's back from what can be termed as a sabbatical with not one but two projects - a sports drama Saradhi and his digital debut, 9 Hours on Disney+ Hotstar. Humbler than ever before, the actor is at peace with himself and is keen to make the opportunity count this time. 9 Hours, created by Krish Jagarlamudi, has him playing a cop and co-starring Madhu Shalini, Vinod Kumar, Ravi Varma and others. Ahead of the digital premiere of the show, he engaged in an interaction with OTTplay.com

Talking about his show set in the mid-80s, he says, "It is an engrossing web show that encompasses a series of events that happen over nine hours. It starts in the morning and each episode takes viewers through every hour of the day. Each episode doesn't necessarily last over an hour but summarises the happenings at that time briefly. Disney+ Hotstar knows what it takes to deliver a good product to audiences and the association with Krish was the icing on the cake."

What about the show helped him take the digital plunge? "We regularly keep telling that a certain film or a show is different from the rest but 9 Hours is genuinely out of the box. As a viewer, I loved watching 9 Hours and all the characters in the show resonated with me. Every character across every episode has a genuine emotion and significance; no role is above the other. Audiences will connect with it. The very reason that triggered me to take up the project is the fact that there's no lead in it."

He says 9 Hours is a show that an entire family can sit together and comfortably watch. "I am proud to be a part of such a clean show and it's free from adult content/vulgarity." Many have been asking Taraka Ratna if 9 Hours is the Indian/South Indian Money Heist. All Taraka Ratna has to say is, "It isn't a local Money Heist! Only 30-40% of the story is about a bank robbery. There's more to the story beyond the heist - the drama and the emotions. The series has been shot very realistically."

Working with two amazing directors - Niranjan (Kaushik) and Jacob (Varghese) for the show helped my cause, Taraka Ratna shares. "While Niranjan shot all the interior portions on sets, Jacob handled most of mine and Madhu Shalini's sequences outdoors. As an actor, I completely rely on my director and go by the emotion he/she wants to extract from me. This is how I function and I stuck to Jacob's words while performing every scene. The way they drove the story was impeccable - I'll label both of them as very promising talents."

"Every day, we enjoyed working because the script was clear and both the directors knew what they wanted from us. Acting with someone like Madhu Shalini, whom I'm great friends with, was great fun! Associating with people like Ravi Varma, Jwalakoti, Shritej, Benarjee, Ankith, and Vinod Kumar helped me evolve. The casting was terrific; the on-set vibe felt like a family and we shared great intimacy. With Vinod Kumar garu, I share a good rapport with him given we did a film in the past where he played the villain. Even technically, we were lucky to work with such a team, particularly the cinematographer Manoj, his distinct colour palette and the composer Shaktikanth Karthick's out of the world music," Tarak adds.

The actor found it good fun to go back in time to know how cops cracked cases back in the 80s, relying on mind games. "We enjoyed thinking how would've cops solved cases minus modern-day technology. That was the main challenge - bringing strategy in place and nabbing the culprits without gadgets or video evidence. It was a different experience. Communication was surprisingly missing from the sets too. Niranjan was shooting in the interiors and we, being in outdoor locations, didn't actually know what the other unit was upto. We knew the script but weren't aware of what was being shot indoors. It's funny!" 

When we ask him to label some of his grandfather's favourite roles, Tarak plays it safe. "I honestly can't pick one and I am inspired by every movie he has done and I'm here today because of him. I've grown up watching his works and also that of my babai (Balakrishna). My generation has learnt from babai more but I consider both of them my teachers." 

Meanwhile, how does it feel to be relevant and be back in action? "I am very happy I'm still around in the industry, getting different scripts and that makers like Krish Jagarlamudi are still thinking about us. We worked hard for this and ups and downs are part and parcel of everyone's life. At the end of the day, it's all about proving ourselves with every opportunity we get," Tarak states, on a philosophical note. 

Those who know Taraka Ratna well will also be aware that he's not a social media person at all. There was some confusion around when someone impersonated him on social media and tweeted that he was working with Mahesh Babu for a project directed by Trivikram. "I wish it were true and but it isn't. I didn't know where it all started and before it got worse, I had to communicate the matter that I am not on any social media networking platform."

What explains his social media absence though? "I like to have a personal connection with my friends or fans. I don't think social media is necessary for my life. One thing I don't like about social media is the space it gives to naysayers, who've no job but to comment on people's lives. Most of them surprisingly believe in what they write but don't know what the truth is. I don't want to justify myself with such comments," he signs off.

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