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Interview Hindi

Natak Pictures aims to provide relatable, high-quality yet family-oriented content, says Rahul Bhatnagar 

The former advertising professional speaks about his journey of starting his own production house. 

Rahul Bhatnagar

Keyur Seta

We have seen several films where the protagonist is confused between passion and profession and is left wondering which one of the two to choose. When it comes to real life, it seems Rahul Bhatnagar found his answer and he came up with his own banner Natak Pictures after being an advertising professional for over a decade. 

The banner specializes in backing short films and short funny videos that are released on their YouTube channel. They are now working towards making web-series for over-the-top (OTT) platforms. In an interview with Cinestaan.com, Bhatnagar speaks about his journey and the plan ahead for his banner. 

What was your aim when you started Natak Pictures and how has the journey been so far?

Films have always had a special place in my life and have intrigued me since childhood. I started Natak Pictures as a passion project alongside a 9-9 job. I started my career in films as an assistant director for a Hindi feature film, Do Dooni Chaar (2010), an experience that left a lasting impression on me as an aspiring filmmaker. I decided to become a professional advertiser during which I learned the basic art of creating relatable and compelling tales.

After 13 years of being in the advertising industry, I finally decided to follow my passion by establishing my own YouTube channel, Natak Pictures. The journey has had its own ups and downs, considering it’s tough to strike a balance between two absolutely different worlds. However, it's only worth the time if efforts come from a genuine space. 

My ultimate aim was to establish Natak Pictures as a medium providing meaningful, high-quality, relatable yet family-oriented content without the need to become a paid subscriber on a platform like YouTube.

With its strong focus on ‘hyper localization’ and ‘hyper personalisation’, the company today has produced over 16 short films on diverse and engaging topics, garnering around 30 million views on an average on YouTube. 

What prompted you to quit your job and start this banner? And why did you choose the route of starting a production firm?

All my decisions come from a very instinctive space. Considering the digital arena demands content creators to deliver quirky and relatable content on frequent intervals, 13 years of experience in the advertising industry helped me learn exactly that. As years passed by, I made Unarranged, along with a 9 to 9 job. The film got an overwhelming response, which indeed made me more confident about establishing my own production house. 

Today, I try my level best to collaborate with creative individuals who have the ability to bring unique content to the table through my production house

You have come up with a number of short films. What is your selection criteria? What do you look into before deciding to back a project?

Weaving a script around daily-encountered instances is extremely engaging. Hence, the idea is to create content that has a high relatability quotient for every age and class group. The story should be able to trigger a certain sense of emotion in the mind of our audiences. However, with respect to the current pattern, we have managed to create our own niche in marriage-themed content within the YouTube ecosystem.

You have said that the audience that consumes content on YouTube is as intelligent as the audience of any OTT platform. Can you elaborate on this? 

We cannot deny that the stereotypical notion of the YouTube audience being a passive entity has been prevalent for a long time. It is assumed that the YouTube audience doesn’t pay any heed to the ‘quality’ offered to them. 

However, the migration of audiences from traditional platforms to digital ones has been quite evident over the past few years. The entertainment industry is changing at a fast pace today. The rising popularity of OTT content is evident, simply because of their ability to cater to tier two and tier three cities as well. Hence, the Indian audience has certainly become a flag bearer of quality content.

Considering the same, most of the YouTube content is also streaming on OTT platforms as the audience for both mediums have merged. For instance, most of our creations such as Kati Patang, Pinki Ki Shaadi, Chhodh Pakad, etc, are already streaming on streaming platforms like Hotstar, MX Player and Shorts TV.

Any specific reason for providing free content to the consumers? Does this mean yours will never be a paid service?

As a filmmaker, I firmly believe that every content consumer, irrespective of being a paid subscriber, has the right to consume quality content. I launched Natak Pictures with this very ideology. However, from a practical perspective, it doesn't mean that we will not engage in the commercial dynamics of the entertainment business at all as eventually it’s about hitting the right chord, based on the right opportunity and timing. 

What are your future plans? Are you planning any feature films or web-series?

A lot is in the pipeline for Natak Pictures. Now, our primary objective is to offer quality content as frequently as possible. 

Considering the same, we are taking the next step with the launch of our new web show Unsorted in September 2022. The show stars Mugdha Aggarwal, Vikram Bhui and Tanya Singh Bhatnagar respectively. The story is about how in the current times, we often find it tough to juggle between our personal and professional lives. The show most likely will go live on an OTT platform only. 

Having said that, we have already started the preparation for our other web-shows along with some quirky short films, which too will release in 2022.

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