Senna Hegde is in his hometown of Kanhangad, which by his own admission is a small sleepy town moving at its own unhurried pace. It was, therefore, no surprise when he decided to set his debut feature film in this town. Nothing new here, you might say, but Senna did not follow the time tested formulae — his idea of film making was very different and his debut directorial venture reflected that. Titled 0-41*, the film took inspiration from the local tales and its residents with Senna casting locals in this 91-minute-film. “It is a peek into ‘real people, real lives and real experiences over a period of six days”, he says. The poignant tale of two volleyball teams is used as a canvas to ponder questions about rural versus urban living, government apathy, generation gap, mental health, alcoholism as well as one’s faith and relationship with God, with the life in small-town India providing a vivid backdrop.
This film, with complete unknown actors, did not have a theatrical release but made an admirable round of several film festivals. So when Senna decided to make his second film, the obvious conclusion would be that it would be another Malayalam film. But no. Here too Senna threw a curve. His second untitled film is in Kannada, with well-known Kannada actor Diganth Manchale roped in to play the lead. So why a Kannada film? Senna answers, “Although I live in the border area of Kanhangad, I am actually a Kannadiga by birth. But I am comfortable in both the languages. I grew up in Kanhangad and my sensibilities are Keralite. I grew up watching a lot of Malayalam films but I also wanted to do a film in Kannada. When the opportunity presented itself, I latched on.” Talking a little bit more about his Kannada movie, Senna reveals, “It is a romantic film with certain elements of a road movie. You can call it a soul-searching romantic film that unfolds over a period of days. It is a character-driven film!”
While Senna’s name and films veer off the beaten track, his biography is also very interesting. A computer science engineer, he did his Masters in Australia and went to work in the US for four years as a business analyst. From there, he went off to the Middle East where he worked for eight years as a creative director in advertising. He moved back to India in 2015 and decided to pursue his dream of chasing films. “I always had a passion for films but like all upper middle class families, the choice was either medicine or engineering and I chose engineering. My stint in the US opened up a lot of avenues and I decided to pursue advertising because I had to tell a story in 30 seconds. My next move was films and that’s how my journey began,” he says, before signing off.