He received critical acclaim for his performance in the 2012 crime thriller film Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum. In 2015, he starred as the main antagonist in Baahubali: The Beginning, which recorded the highest gross opening for an Indian film. Rana made his Bollywood debut with the film Dum Maaro Dum which released on 22 April 2011.
The Times of India called it a "dashing debut".
He was voted "The Most Promising Newcomer of 2011" in the Times Of India poll. He was listed at number 20, on the Times of India"s Most Desirable Men for the year 2011.
In 2012, he was voted as 10th most desirable man in India, in the poll conducted by The Times of India. He played a professional killer in the film Nenu Naa Rakshasi under Puri Jagannath"s direction, which was a box office bomb.
His first release in 2012 was Naa Ishtam which was followed by his second Hindi film Department.
He next starred in Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum directed by Krish which became a box office success. He made his debut in Tamil through Ajith Kumar"s Aarambam. In 2013 he secured two big budget projects, Gunasekhar"s Rudhramadevi and South. South. Rajamouli"s Baahubali in which he is the lead antagonist.
Rana did a cameo role in Ayan Mukerji"s Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani.
Rana played "Bhallala Deva", the cousin of protagonist Bahubali, who had negative shades and received unexpected appreciation from critics. The movie collected over ₹ 500 crores worldwide and is the highest grosser among the South Indian movies.