Director Senna Hegde on upcoming film Katheyondu Shuruvagide: 'It's a soul-searching, character-driven film'

Haricharan Pudipeddi

June 22, 2018 16:10:28 IST

In 2017, ad-man turned filmmaker Senna Hegde made his directorial debut with 0-41*, a Malayalam docudrama which he made on a shoestring budget of Rs 7 lakh. The film, which didn’t manage to have a theatrical release, had a healthy film festival run. When Anurag Kashyap shared the film’s trailer on social media, the attention it garnered almost gave Senna a nervous meltdown. This was followed by calls from actor-filmmaker Geethu Mohandas and Malayalam star Fahadh Faasil, both showering praise on his work. A year later, Senna is eagerly looking forward to the release of his second directorial—Kannada romantic drama Katheyondu Shuruvagide, which stars Diganth and Pooja Devariya in the lead. In this exclusive chat with Firstpost, Senna opens up about the film, his long-standing association with actor-filmmaker Rakshit Shetty, and his transition from indie to mainstream cinema.

Director Senna Hegde/Image from Twitter.

Director Senna Hegde/Image from Twitter.

Katheyondu Shuruvagide's trailer was released last week, and it instantly caught the attention of netizens, with most people talking about the freshness in the story. The film is produced by Rakshit Shetty, one among the most exciting current-gen filmmakers who has widely popular films such as Kirik Party and Ulidavaru Kandanthe to his credit. It was Rakshit, who breathed life into Senna’s idea behind the story and agreed to produce it along with Pushkara Mallikarjunaiah.

“I’ve known Rakshit for nearly 8-9 years. We were introduced by a common friend even before the release of Ulidavaru Kandanthe. I was working with an ad agency then and Rakshit sent me a draft of Ulidavaru and wanted my opinion. I shared my feedback and we went back and forth. During my next visit to India, I even spent a few days on the sets of his film. Rakshit made me one of the script consultants of Ulidavaru Kandanthe and that’s how my journey in this industry began,” recalled Senna, who added that Rakshit was always open to collaborate.

In 2014, Senna returned to India after the demise of his father. “After I finished 0-41*, I had this idea to make into a film but I wasn’t sure if I should do it in Kannada or Malayalam. Eventually, I came and narrated the story to Rakshit, and I knew if I made it in Kannada I'd cast Diganth. Rakshit was ready to produce. We finalised everything last August and we started shooting from November.” Unlike 0-41*, which follows the day-to-day life of a bunch of youngsters in the small town of Kanhangad in Northern Kerala, Katheyondu Shuruvagide is a simple romantic drama. “You could call it a soul-searching, character-driven film.”

Talking about the switch from indie style filmmaking to making film for mainstream audiences, Senna said he didn’t find the process challenging. “In the ad world, we sometimes shoot ads on very high budgets. In the process, I’ve realized that it's not just creativity that's important but also getting back the money invested in a project. I wanted to be extra careful. We did an elaborate pre-production shoot. We planned the shoot for 40 days but we managed to wrap up in 30. Nevertheless, it wasn’t an easy film to shoot. We shot in six destinations. From Bangalore to Mysore to the coastal areas of Karnataka and we also shot briefly in Pondicherry and Munnar.”

Diganth, Pooja Devariya, Senna Hegde and Rakshit Shetty/Image from Twitter.

Diganth, Pooja Devariya, Senna Hegde and Rakshit Shetty/Image from Twitter.

With the film gearing up for release in July, Senna is concerned about how audiences who supported his first film will react to Katheyondu Shuruvagide. “My first film earned me audiences who genuinely liked what I made. Most people who watched 0-41* liked the innocence of the characters and realistic treatment. I grew up watching Malayalam films and by sensibilities I’m a Keralite. But I’m a Kannadiga by origin. Honestly, I don’t like to divide cinema but unfortunately the division can’t be avoided when you’re making films for mainstream audiences. What worries me is how audiences who really supported me for my first film will react after watching Katheyondu Shuruvagide. I’m slightly nervous about it because no filmmaker wants his work to be criticized.”

Senna is all praise for his lead actors. “Most people who watched the trailer felt the film shows Diganth in a new light. He was joy to work with and I’d close my eyes and work with him again. Same is the case with Pooja, who brought so much of positivity on the sets. I think I had an amazing team. Otherwise, I couldn’t have made this film in 30 days.”

On a concluding note, Senna said he couldn’t have made this film without the support of Rakshit Shetty. “Rakshit is always willing to back new talent. His passion for cinema goes beyond just making films. He even goes all out to support a good film in another language. Even after delivering a blockbuster like Kirik Party, he hasn’t had a release yet. Anyone else in his shoes would’ve cashed in on the runaway success of his last film. Rakshit, on the other hand, is helping his assistant finish a film. He’s working on his own film. He helped me make a film. Not many people are willing to extend such kind of support but Rakshit is an exception.”

Updated Date: Jun 22, 2018 16:10 PM