Any creative venture can only expect to flourish provided it has the right kind of backing and needless to say that for a medium like web-series which is still in its nascent stage in India,the right kind of backing is key. We at MAM have gone about speaking to Abhishek Gautam of Humaramovie,one of the two producers of Shouvik Gupta’s web-series, Ranjish. Abhishek Gautam is an MBA from SCMHRD, Pune, who quit his corporate life to pursue a career in media and entertainment. Like a lot of MBAs, he chose to join a startup – Humaramovie- owned by Preety Ali (wife of Imtiaz Ali) along with three more people. At Humaramovie, Abhishek has handled creative development, operational assignments and even human resources.
The obvious starter, tell us about yourself and your journey so far into the world of cinema and story-telling and how it all lead to Ranjish.
The obvious answer-no background in films, always interested in media and entertainment, led to me quitting my job to follow my passion. I must say I was lucky enough to be backed by my family to pursue it and then getting the backing of Humaramovie to handle their operations entirely.
Ranjish started with a discussion on making a webseries with Shouvik, the director with whom I have worked with earlier for his short film-that is how Ranjish came into existence.
A web series is relatively new to Indian audiences. Wherever little Indian ones we have had have been pure comedy and satire. Even from biggies like Yash Raj. How do you see Ranjish fit into this trend.
We have never really tried to fit into a trend. This is exactly why we did not want to do content in the comedy or satire genre. Our strength is good story telling. That is what we want to focus on. Not on what others are doing.
Then why a webseries? Was it a conscious decision owing to limitations of making a longer format film or was it a choice you made?
It was a conscious choice. We have been making short form content for a long time. We have created a niche/name for ourselves. We have a dedicated audience base. The next logical step was to go beyond discrete videos and attempt something longer, episodic in nature which requires higher degree of engagement with the viewers.
What are your challenges as a Producer in making a web series?
When creating short form content with limited means, but having to compete with everything out there (you have to compete with literally everything on the internet for eyeballs) everything is a challenge. From getting good stories, to executing them so that they are of a certain quality to ensuring it is delivered to the right audience in the right away.
That would also include finding a cast and crew that is passionate about a web series? Was it easy?
That actually was very easy. Everyone wants to be part of a good story. When the cast and crew heard the story there was not a lot of convincing we had to from our end. It was their conviction to create something good which got them on board.
Tell us about Humaramovie and its concept…
Humaramovie was started by three people. Vinay Mishra, Preety Ali and Pallavi Rohatgi. All three had the same vision. To promote and discover talent through short form content and nurture them to take the next steps into longer form content. We are not just a platform to showcase short films but also an incubator lab for talent. Secondly we also wanted to inculcate in the audiences a liking for Indian short form content and a destination where they can view the best Indian short form content available
Short form content, especially only for web, relies on viral marketing and push in large parts for its successful reach among intended audiences, a lot of money is needed for content to travel. How true is this?
This is true for pretty much all online content including web series. However one key thing to note Is that our focus hasn’t been as much on creating viral content as it is on creating good content. If a piece of content goes viral then that is an additional benefit but the primary concern is to create good content.
How do you plan to market the series. Are you looking at distribution platforms other than YouTube?
We are always open to distribution through other platforms. In fact we already have tieups with other platforms. So our content will be available on multiple platform other than Youtube, including Ranjish.
Netflix, Hotstar, Eros Now,Hooq, the market for online content is heating up. Do you think the audiences are ready for this explosion of content? Or is this just a hype?
The audience is ready. The more relevant question is whether the content providers are ready. With so many players the onus will be on the content creators to ensure that the quality of content keep getting better. The competition here is not restricted like in case of television or theatre. Here everything is available all the time at your convenience. The online audience is also more informed and less forgiving. So the competition and pressure is that much more.
What next after Ranjish, will there be a season 2 ?
Not really thought of it. Will depend if Shouvik (the writer / director) can come up with a better story to follow this up and if we can execute it even better. If the answer is yes for both then yes there might be season 2 of Ranjish.
Thank you and all the best for Ranjish