Senna Hegde: A director is only as successful as his last film

Ahead of the release of his debut Kannada film, Katheyondu Shuruvagide, that writer-director tells CE that the fate of a film is a direct reflection on the filmmaker
Senna Hegde: A director is only as successful as his last film

Senna Hegde's story in Kannada film industry has just begun as the name of his debut film, Katheyondu Shuruvagide, suggests. With the film, starring Diganth and Pooja Devariya, ready for release this week, Cinema Express caught up with the director, who is finding his feet in the industry. In conversation, he tells us he's hoping that his first Kannada film will strike a chord with the audience.

Once upon a time...

Born in small-town Kanhangad in Kasargod district, which lies in the border area of Karnataka and Kerala, Senna mostly grew up in Bengaluru. After studying engineering, he moved to Australia to pursue his Masters, and then worked in the US as a business analyst for four years. He quickly shifted to advertising and climbed up the ladder soon becoming the creative director of his agency. "I returned to India to pursue my first love, filmmaking. My first venture was 0-41* a documentary feature, which was made with a budget of Rs 7 lakh. For the 91-minute film, I got together actors from my neighbourhood. When the film (later acquired by Phantom Digital), was appreciated by the likes of (Bollywood director) Anurag Kashyap, I was inspired to pursue films in a bigger way," he says.

'My connect with Rakshit Shetty helped me get a foothold in the industry'

Senna and Rakshit Shetty's friendship goes back to the Ulidaravu Kandanthe days. "I worked as script consultant for his film, after which Rakshit suggested I do a Kannada film. Once he was done with Kirik Paty, I went up to him and narrated the story. He liked it, and said he would produce it. From the beginning, I was clear that I would take forward the film only if Diganth was part of it. Since I had a clear idea, Rakshit connected us. Ten minutes into the story, Diganth agreed to sign on the dotted line," he says.

'Content with where I am'

He has his fingers crossed for his upcoming film, especially since he believes that "a director is only as successful as his last film. If it flops, he is a failure. At this point, I am content with where I am. But still, I have a few more stories to tell, and look forward to making more films."

Fascination with human relations

Senna finds human relations so simple yet so complex. It's this complexity that interests him both as a writer and filmmaker. "I like to connect with the audience. Films that deal with human beings and their daily struggles are what interest me," he says. His all-time favourite film, he tells us, is Dead Man Walking. "I just liked the intertwining of simplicity and complexity of human emotions in that film. It's about a convict, about to be hanged, who gets into a conversation with a nun. I can't stop raving about the film. Sometime in my career, I would like to make a film on those lines," he says.

'Writing is a solitary process'

Senna likes peace and quiet when he writes. This, he says helps him visualise clearly and put down the same on paper. "I wrote the story of Kathe... in English. Since the film was being made in Kannada, dialogue writer, Abhijit Mahesh and I sat down and worked on translation and adaptation to suit the Kannada audience. I am a quick writer but I tend it fritter away my time. Having said that, once I put my mind on something, I make sure to complete it," he says. In Senna's opinion, a film is best directed by the writer himself. At the same time, he also feels that artistes make a film. "All seven actors and technicians have lent to the film in their own way."

Final film just like first narration

Even when Senna narrated the story to Rakshit, he was clear about the kind of music and visuals that would be in the final film. "A couple of hours into the narration, Rakshit loved it, and later Pushkar too (who has come on board as co-producer) liked the subject. Rakshit had a few inputs, which worked for the film. Both the producers had full faith in me, and did not interfere. They knew I had a clear vision. In fact, Rakshit watched the raw copy just before the film went to the censor board, and felt that we had stayed on track through the film. I believe the final product is exactly the way I narrated the story."

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