In an exclusive chat with OTTplay, Natesh talks about the core reasons to set his stories in & around his home town and how he conceived Vaghachapani
"Now that I am a filmmaker, I would only wish that the people of my home town do not treat me any different," says Natesh Hegde, who is currently gearing up for the start of the production of his second directorial, Vaghachapani. Natesh's debut outing, Pedro, needs little introduction for the film managed to make a name for itself in India without yet having a theatrical release. With Pedro spending much of 2022 touring the world through the many sought-after film festivals, both the film and its maker garnered a lot of praise and scrutiny, perhaps in equal measure. And with someone like Rishab Shetty associated with them as the producer, the attention cast seems inevitable.
"The folks of home town are aware, at least to a certain extent, of what Pedro has done internationally. And I suppose, they are also aware of the fact that I am a filmmaker and all that. But I am not very comfortable with the idea of them perceiving me differently now. I would instead want them to treat me the same way as before and luckily, it has been like that so far. People around me continue to support my film and contribute to it just the way they did before and I'd like for things to remain that way - I don't want all that maryade (regard) from them (laughs)," says Natesh.
There is no doubt that Natesh Hegde's work so far brims with the ethos of his home town Kottalli and its small surroundings. It's where he began exercising his wits as a filmmaker in short films like Kurli and Distant and would go on to direct his debut feature Pedro, as well. There is a palpable sense of intimacy and awareness about the way his films capture the locales, the people or the stillness in which everything resides and for all that to show, Natesh reckons that it's very important to know and understand the place in which he is setting his story.
"I don't see the physical space of a film just as some kind of a setup for the story because it's a lot more than that. Characters, I believe, and also the story, are born out of that space or place and that's why I have chosen, till now, to make my films in and around my home town. I know the place in and out and am very comfortable its every crevice. And alongside, the people residing there trust me and I am well acquainted with them. As a filmmaker, I don't work in conventional ways where things are segregated into departments - I don't know how to function that way either. But here, I know these people and working with them is simpler and more comforting. But that said, the same convenience can also cause some kind of disservice to you. Because when you are bringing a very personal story to life that is set in the very place you have grown up, you confront both the truth and the concealed lies about it. And when you work in a group, you end up exposing your personality to your own people as you go along. If you were to be far removed from the place, then I suppose you won't have to tackle these challenges," he adds.
But should Natesh Hegde conceive or come across a story that is set in a contrasting world, would he be willing to give that a try? "Certainly, yes. Because ultimately, you are telling a human story and there is a universal sense of familiarity about those aspects. But I am keen on making my films in my home town for now and that's about it. I will step out of this place when there's the need," shares the filmmaker.
Natesh's next, Vaghachapani (Tiger's Pond), stars popular Malayalam actor and filmmaker Dileesh Pothan in one of the lead roles. Pothan, known for directing films like Maheshinte Prathikaram & Joji and starring in many popular films like Malik, Bheeshma Parvam, and others, will be seen essaying the role of a Malayali immigrant in Vaghachipani and the film will also star Natesh Hegde's father Ganesh Hegde in a prominent role along with Raj B. Shetty and other actors. Vaghachipani is expected to go on floors in February.