Director Senna Hegde is a believer in destiny. A spiritual guy, who says at times, he makes serious decisions by flipping a coin. “I believe everything has been mapped out for us. We just have to follow it and go to our destination,” said the filmmaker, who will be making his debut in Kannada with Katheyondu Shuruvaagide.
Senna was an engineer by profession and holds a master’s degree from Australia. He worked as a business analyst in the United States for few years before he entered the creative realm. He moved to the Middle East and started working in the advertisement industry. In 2014, he returned to India after the passing of his father and started making films.
He made his first feature film in Malayalam. Titled 0-41*, the film follows the day-to-day life of a bunch of youngsters in the small town of Kanhangad in Northern Kerala.
“I was writing some script. Every evening I used to go and watch this bunch of boys playing volleyball (in Kanhangad). I know all the boys. One of them was my part-time driver, a couple of others worked on my farm. They had a ritual, if there is no job for them in the morning, they used to sit in a club, evening play volleyball and have a few drinks at the end of the day and it continues,” Senna recollected how the germ of an idea took root in his mind for his first film.
“I used to join them for drinks sometimes and talk to them to understand the life in rural areas from a different perspective. There were two teams, one team kept losing continuously to the other. So, it began spilling over into their personal lives. I thought the rivalry between them was interesting and collected their anecdotes and I added little spice to make it cinematic. The whole film is about faith,” he said.
Senna wrote the script for 0-41* in three days and the actors who worked in the film were not professional actors. They did not even get a few days of acting workshop before the camera began rolling as Senna thought it will make them look rehearsed. He says that he did not even feed lines to his actors. “I used to write a block and give them my requirements and tell this is what I want and ask them say whichever way they want,” he said.
“They are not trained actors and I did not do any workshops as I thought they will lose their innocence, which I wanted to capture. So, there are a lot of follies in the film in that sense. But, this is what Anurag Kashyap told me when he finished watching the film, he felt that human innocence in raw form. I think that is the charm of the film,” he noted.
With a four people crew and a budget of Rs 7 lakh, Senna finished shooting the 90-minute film in seven days. And released the trailer of his indie film on Independence Day.
Bollywood filmmaker Anurag Kashyap changed the life of Senna, when he shared the trailer of 0-41* on social media. “Two days after I released the trailer, I woke up to see I had received thousands of friend requests on Facebook and messages. I realised something was wrong. Then I came to know Anurag Kashyap has shared the trailer of my film,” he recalled, saying he sort of had a nervous meltdown when he started receiving so much attention.
“We live in such frivolous world, that when somebody big says something then everybody thinks it’s a brilliant film. I take it with a pinch of salt as there are no guarantee people who like trailer will like the film also,” Senna said even as he seemed little cautions about embracing all the popularity all at once.
He said the Malayalam film industry was quick to appreciate his work, as he got messages and calls from filmmakers like Geethu Mohandas. “About six months after the trailer release, I got a call from Fahadh Faasil and I went and met him. He asked him if I want to write something for him. But, he is busy for next three or four years,” he said, noting that his “viral trailer” put him on the map. “Anurag Kashyap changed my life.”
The film has been doing the rounds of the festival circuit. Phantom Digital has bought the rights to the film. “It will be more like an online release,” confirmed Senna.
Senna, who has been friends with actor-filmmaker Rakshit Shetty for a while now, narrated him the script of his first big commercial directorial venture, Katheyondu Shuruvaagide. He said he wrote the film, keeping Diganth in mind and he selected actor Pooja Devariya for the female lead following an audition.
The regular shooting of the Kannada romantic comedy will begin by end of Novemeber, and will be shot in Bengaluru and Gokarna.