Chethan Keshav: It takes more than wielding a camera to make one a director

The director opens up about his debut directorial Loveli, considering real-life incidents for the film, casting Vasishta Simha as lead, and more
Chethan Keshav: It takes more than wielding a camera to make one a director

With the advent of technology, anybody with a camera today has the opportunity to become a filmmaker. Debut filmmaker Chethan Keshav, who is very aware of this scenario says, "Setting oneself apart through genuine skill and seasoned expertise becomes crucial in today's world. Set to make his directorial debut with Love Li, slated to release on June 14, the director further explains what it takes to become a distinct director. "Everyone can dream and think they have the potential to step into the director's shoes, but it hinges on our dedication and professionalism. While dabbling in filmmaking is open to all, it's the depth of know-how and the knack for weaving good tales that truly differentiate the novices from the pros. I've observed directors come and go, but those with experience stay on," asserts Chethan Keshav, further stating, "Merely possessing the ability to wield a camera and capture a scene doesn't qualify one as a director; lacking hands-on experience, they often falter and depart prematurely, failing to establish benchmarks."

Elaborating on his directorial initiation, Chethan shares, "Love Li will always be my first film, yet, before this venture, I honed my craft for a decade under the guidance of Prashanth Neel and Narthan. Once I felt confident, I stepped out independently and pitched a concept to Love Li's producers. Through the journey of directing Love Li, I've realised that managing people firsthand is the greatest challenge in filmmaking. Be it the technicians or the cast, every member on the film's set requires clear guidance. Any lapse in communication from the director's end can lead to a cascade of errors. A director needs to establish rapport with every department. Often, producers express concerns about budget overruns by directors, but upon witnessing the final product, their apprehensions are allayed. Thus, in my opinion, adeptly navigating these challenges hinges on a director's wealth of experience," he affirms.

Back in the day, movies were often adapted from novels aiming for pure entertainment. But nowadays, directors are drawn to real-life events, and Chethan is no exception. "When it boils down to it, audiences have plenty of options for entertainment. So when they choose cinema, it's our craftsmanship that counts," he explains adding that entertainment is not just about action sequences and romance. "For commercial success, there needs to be a message underneath it all. The subject should be close to reality, making a narrative that is relatable for the audience. They should feel like they're part of the story, surrounded by the characters. In Love Li we dig into the complexities of love, exploring both beautiful and dark facets," he reveals.

For Chethan, casting was an equal challenge. He chose Vasishta Simha, known and popular for his antagonist and character roles, to play the lead in a romantic thriller. "An actor is an actor, irrespective of whether they've played villains or supporting roles. I had two reasons for choosing Vasishta. Firstly, to prove my directorial skills, I needed a talented actor who could bring my vision to life. Secondly, I wanted to break the stereotype and show Vasishta's versatility. He's great with humour and has a heroic presence, a side that audiences have yet to see. It was exciting to showcase him differently, and he supported me. It's my responsibility to change the perception of Vasishta as just a villain after Love Li, making him a hero in the eyes of the audience."

The film, produced by Ravindra Kumar under Abhuvanasa Creations banner also marks the Kannada debut of Stefy Patel. The extended cast of the film includes Dattanna, Sadhu Kokila, Malavika Avinash, Shobharaj, Sameeksha, child artiste Vanshika, and Shekar. The film has music by Anoop Seelin and cinematography by Ashwin Kennedy.

Is it necessary for today's directors to spend three years on a film? "For a debut director like me, eager to showcase his skills by bringing the film to the theatres, I didn't want LoveLi's making to take three years. However, various factors came into play, from producer investments to actors' schedules. I initially committed to a year, but practical issues stretched it to three. It's a learning experience for my first film, and some lessons require time."

As Love Li gears for release, Chethan says he has already penned seven scripts. "I have a story for every type of actor, and I'm eager to collaborate with those who trust my vision and give me creative freedom," he signs off.

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