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Exclusive! Rana Naidu’s Flora Saini: Listening to people talk in Telugu on the set was like music to my ears

The Inside Edge actor is excited to reunite with her Nuvvu Naaku Nachav co-star Venkatesh in Netflix’s web series that released today

Exclusive! Rana Naidu’s Flora Saini: Listening to people talk in Telugu on the set was like music to my ears

Flora Saini

  • Dhwani Desai

Last Updated: 10.35 AM, Mar 10, 2023

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For Flora Saini, who is known as Asha Saini down South, working on the Rana Daggubati and Venkatesh-starrer web series Rana Naidu is the manifestation of a long-standing wish. 

Flora reunites with Venkatesh for the Indian adaptation of Ray Donovan, 21 years after their blockbuster 2001 Telugu hit Nuvvu Naaku Nachav. And Flora couldn’t be more thrilled. In a candid chat with OTTplay, the actor revealed how she landed the web series, why listening to people talk in Telugu on set was music to her ears, and why she considers herself a web series pioneer. 

How did Rana Naidu happen to you?

I had worked with director Karan Anshuman on Inside Edge, and he called me when they were looking to cast Kavya’s character in the show. He told me that the production house thought I would be great for the part. So, this project just fell into my lap; I didn’t have to go through several rounds of auditions or such since I had worked with the team earlier. 

This project sees you reuniting with Venkatesh after over two decades…

Yes, and I was really excited about it. I began my career with South Indian films and worked with Venkatesh in the blockbuster hit Nuvvu Naaku Nachav. I always wanted to work in the South again. Listening to people talk in Telugu on the set was like music to my ears. 

Having worked in Telugu films, did you feel a sense of familiarity on the Rana Naidu set?

The fact that I know and speak Telugu was like a secret on set. It was fun because I would listen in on conversations and people would just assume that I didn’t understand what they were saying. They would be surprised when I would react to something that was said in Telugu and realise that all the while, I knew what was being said (laughs). 

You mentioned that you always wanted to work in the South again…

I am a Punjabi, but because I’ve worked in the South, I know Telugu better than Punjabi. I used to think that it was such a waste that I know the language so well, yet I am not getting any offers from the Telugu entertainment industry. I finally got that chance with Rana Naidu. I am glad that I get to make a comeback of sorts in the Telugu entertainment space through a web series.  

What is your character, Kavya, like?

If Kavya wants to do something, she won’t care about who she is going to hurt to achieve it. She's not a people-pleaser and does whatever makes her happy. She lives life on her own terms and walks like she owns the place. 

It was a lot of pressure for me to make Kavya look believable because she is the complete opposite of who I am in real life. I was faking it and wasn’t really convinced by my portrayal of Kavya, but Karan reassured me that I was doing a good job. The one thing I love about web series is the way they portray strong women. And Kavya is one such. 

So, did you have any personal takeaways from Kavya?

I yearn to be like Kavya because I love strong, confident women. Personally, I am unable to speak my mind if I think that the person in front of me won’t like it. I find it hard to say no, so I look up to women who speak their mind. I loved portraying Kavya, and I would love to be like her, but I know it's going to take me a lifetime to get there. 

You’ve done a lot of web series in the recent past. Was the transition from films to web series a natural one or a planned one?

It was a natural transition. Earlier, there were only two media: TV and films. With films, one had to struggle a lot to get bit parts. And for some reason, TV never accepted me. I was lucky that when web series were starting out, most actors were busy with films and TV, and I was among those who were free and looking for work. So, I gave it a shot, and that’s how my journey into web series began. 

Just before web series began, I thought that my career was over, but then this new medium of entertainment came along, the lockdown happened, and people lapped up web series like there was no tomorrow. I can happily say that I am a pioneer of web series. 

Are you happy with where you are in your career?

I feel very, very happy. Given the many ups and downs in my life, I never thought that it would be possible for me to make it on my own. My life journey has been very unusual, so for me to be here today and for people to know me by my work – God’s been really kind.

What’s lined up next?

I recently shot for Khichdi 2, the movie. Apart from that, I have Kajol’s The Good Wife, City of Dreams Season 3, and two series for MX Player. 

Rana Naidu, directed by Karan Anshuman and Suparn Verma, also stars Rana Daggubati, Venkatesh Daggubati, Suchitra Pillai, Rajni Basumatary, Gaurav Chopra, and Surveen Chawla. It is based on the show Ray Donovan, and is available to stream on Netflix.