Selling a story

Updated: Nov 29, 2019, 08:50 IST | Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

A brand new podcast helps storytellers go about the business of entertainment.

The latest episode of the podcast talks about the rise of Indian hip-hop, of which Divine is the poster boy.
The latest episode of the podcast talks about the rise of Indian hip-hop, of which Divine is the poster boy.

Vineet Kanabar's nephew, Rohan, lives in a place called Wani. It's a coal-mining town that is about 100 km from Nagpur. Rohan is 13. At his age, Kanabar was learning how to play the tabla. But Rohan's learning how to produce content instead. The teenager has his own YouTube channel where he puts up listicle-type videos on the lines of, six ways to do this and that. So he's not just a consumer of entertainment. Rohan is also a creator. Or change that last word to "storyteller", because in the post-Internet era, that's the term in vogue these days.

It's for that demographic that Kanabar has launched a new podcast called Story Tellers and Story Sellers. The roughly hour-long episodes involve him deep-diving into both sides of the spectrum — the creation of content and the business side of things, i.e. how to monetise what you've produced. But what exactly does the term "storyteller" mean? In case you haven't noticed, it gets bandied about a lot these days and Kanabar tells us, "See, a photographer for a print medium remains a photographer. Someone else writes the story or contributes to the piece. But with the kind of platforms that are now available on the Internet, the onus is back on the creators, who become storytellers when they add some kind of personality to their content. A storyteller is someone who can tell you the most mundane things with a little bit of entertainment or verve in it. He is able to observe stuff happening around him, which is essentially data, and then add heart into it."

Vineet Kanabar
Vineet Kanabar

He gives us the example of fashion influencers to elucidate his point. Back in the day, all we had were fashion models, Kanabar says. They were people who featured on, let's say, a magazine spread. But fashion influencers are people who talk to their audience on web outlets like Instagram. They own their narrative, in that sense. "It doesn't have to be much. Five ways to wear a dress can also make for a story," Kanabar says.

The 32-year-old adds that the reason he started this podcast is that when it comes to entertainment overall, there isn't a lot of formal knowledge on how to go about making a career of it. Not too many people are aware of what people behind the scenes — decision-makers who drive brand content, for example — have in their mind. Plus, hardly anyone is chronicling the manner in which Indian entertainment is evolving at present, Kanabar feels. "There are some pretty great companies we have built over time, right from the Yash Rajs of the world to new-age firms like Gully Gang [a label that rapper Divine started with Chaitanya Kataria, who was a guest on the podcast's third episode, which is its latest]. But no one has really documented what the method to their madness is, and that's another reason I started this venture," he says.

What Kanabar thus does is that, coming back to the latest episode, he gets people like Kataria to open up about their journey and reveal what makes them tick. It's an in-depth, free-flowing conversation where the guest spills the beans about how his association with Divine came to be and what he's got planned for his new venture. This acts as education for anyone who's looking to follow in the same footsteps. Or, if someone wants to learn more about branded web series, they can tune into the first episode, which features Saurabh Khanna and Tarun Tripathi, who are both in senior positions in companies that deal with that space. It's still early days for the podcast, Kanabar confesses. But given the direction it's heading in, it is essentially a means to document and make sense of the changing times we are living in, one in which 13-year-old Rohan envisions a future for himself that his uncle's podcast can help in shaping.

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