“Audiences consume a diverse amount of content on all kinds of platforms, be it free or paid”: Rahul Bhatnagar, Founder & CCO, Natak Pictures

Audiences consumed a diverse amount of content on all kinds of platforms, be it free or paid- Rahul Bhatnagar, Founder & CCO, Natak Pictures

Founded in the year 2016, Natak Pictures aims to make its own niche in the digital content space. The brand has already produced more than 16 short films on diverse themes since its inception. Their latest web show UNSORTED is on the talks and making its way through Disney+Hotstar.

The show is written and directed by Rahul Bhatnagar, who also happens to be the Founder and CCO of Natak Pictures. Prior to this, Rahul had created many short films. He has posed himself in the digital content space successfully. Many of his short films have also made their way to awards and recognition.

The UNSORTED teaser is all set to go live on 20th January 2023 on Natak Pictures’ social media handles. While the show is scheduled to launch on 27th January 2023 on Disney+Hotstar.

MI speaks with Rahul Bhatnagar, Founder & CCO of Natak Pictures in an exclusive interaction. Let’s read:

Q) Tell us more about your upcoming web show UNSORTED.

Rahul: The so-called glorious love stories we have witnessed on the silver screen have influenced us to believe that a real love story is indeed ‘perfect’ in every aspect. This is exactly what inspired me to create the web show, UNSORTED.

While love as an experience seems all fair and gaudy, UNSORTED brings a tale of two ‘not-so-perfect’ lovers, Tara (a fashion designer) and Naman (an IT professional) trying to fill in the gaps for each other. All goes well between them until Naman gets an attractive job offer from Bangalore, making Tara unsure of a long-distance relationship. Matters further worsen when Tara finds Naman getting closer to his beautiful colleague, Seher, who has her own past to battle with.

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As all are caught in confusion, Tara’s friend, Mahima, and Naman’s friend, Sunny make them realize their insecurities. Through such moments of realization, the story revisits the definition of ‘romance’ and the need to embrace imperfections in today’s fast-paced times.

The stage of conceptualization and scripting took more than 6 months to complete. As soon as we got done with it, the next concern was our cast. After discussing a lot of names, I realized Mugdha Agarwal and Vikram Bhui fit the bill perfectly. While Mugdha is usually taken for roles of perhaps college-going girls, I thought why not try something different from the rest with such a talented face?

Coming to Naman’s character, as the show’s name suggests, is quite ‘unsorted’ in his mindset. Hence, I could not think of anyone else other than Vikram Bhui, who has managed to portray not-so-ideal characters very well. Seher is a self-dependent woman, who is loving and mature yet emotionally vulnerable. Keeping that in mind, Tanya Singh Bhatnagar has managed to pull off this character with the emotional depth needed.

Having said that, while making any project, my primary concern is to keep my crew well-aligned with the vision of the film. It’s important for everyone to be on the same page and work towards it.

Q) How was the overall experience of making UNSORTED?

Rahul: Of course, any journey has its own ups and downs. Managing a crew of more than 100 people to aim to finish the shoot for the entire show within a schedule of seven days is not an easy task. But it’s indeed the passion and vision of a creator that pushes them to make it possible.

As a filmmaker, you do come across moments of uncertainty about the vision while executing an idea. This indeed makes it overwhelming to sort those differences out at the beginning. But when you witness your one year of hard work finally taking shape on the screen, all pain and dedication invested seem worth the time.

Having said that, everyone in the cast and crew has been through thick & thin and has been each other’s support system in difficult moments. The ability to work as a single unit and be empathetic towards every member made the entire experience a smooth process.

Q) Audiences are choosing the quality of content. How do you ensure good content? What are the key aspects?

Rahul: Unlike before, today’s audience is active and demanding. The recent releases clearly show that watching a film is no more a regular activity and the audiences will go only if the script is good.

As creators, we are used to following our own vision, so much so that we often negate the basic needs of the audience as content consumers. The content can seem relatable once we take the masses into consideration and not just a small section.

While there is no formula to hit a good script, it’s important to come up with stories that are unique yet easy to relate. Creating stories from slices of life instances taking place perhaps in a small family can indeed make ordinary moments extraordinary.

Hence, It is important that we shift from the usual ‘metropolitan way’ of storytelling to make films on unheard stories taking place in the small towns of India.

Q) What is the need for quality content on free platforms?

Rahul: There was a stigma that audiences on free platforms can consume whatever they are being fed by the creators. However, as time progressed, audiences consumed a diverse amount of content on all kinds of platforms, be it free or paid.

Hence, naturally, a certain sense of intelligence as a content consumer started to develop in audiences. Today, audiences on a platform like YouTube, are actually as intelligent as any OTT platform.

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Therefore as creators, we don’t want the content standards to steep low. It is important to make sure that all kinds of content needs are met, irrespective of the audience being a paid subscriber. However, we also cannot digress from the monetary aspects involved in the process of filmmaking, and thinking from a business perspective is equally needed.

Q) Do you have any plans to enter into the OTT segment?

Rahul: In the last few years, the shift of interest from traditional platforms to digital ones by audiences has been quite evident. The entertainment industry is changing at a fast pace today, especially with the rising popularity of OTT platforms.

Now, after a year of producing short films, we are taking a big step with the launch of our new web show ‘UNSORTED’ on Disney + Hotstar on 27th January 2023. Apart from this, we have already started to plan other web shows with OTT platforms, which too will be released by the end of 2023.

Our other films such as Stuck, Kati Patang, Pinki ki Shaadi, Chhodh Pakad, etc are already streaming on Disney + Hotstar, MX Player, and Shorts TV.

Q) What are your upcoming shows?

Rahul: Currently, we are in talks with a couple of OTT platforms for our upcoming shows and shall be able to divulge the details only when things take a concrete shape.

Q) What is the future of content consumption in India?

Rahul: Earlier, the production of content was extremely low. However, with the rising accessibility of the internet, audiences have the comfort to consume content of diverse formats and genres from their houses.

This has indeed reduced the attention span of the audiences. Considering the same, it is safe to say that short-format content consumption seems more convenient to audiences and shall be one of the top trends in the coming time.

However, as creators is it our duty to invent something different from the trends established by the audiences. Keeping this in mind, we have already started to work towards the ‘vertical content series’ exclusively for YouTube shorts.

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