FLASH FIC­TION FEVER

Society - - CONTENTS - By Joanne Natalia

Can you tell a cap­ti­vat­ing tale in just 140 char­ac­ters? Chin­tan Ru­parel and Anuj Gos­alia, the charm­ing young founders of Terribly Tiny Tales, In­dia’s largest story telling plat­form, tell you how.

Can you tell a cap­ti­vat­ing tale in just 140 char­ac­ters? Yes, you can! Chin­tan Ru­parel and Anuj Gos­alia, the charm­ing young founders of Terribly Tiny Tales, In­dia’s largest story telling plat­form, tell you how

Terribly Tiny Tales aka TTT are the pi­o­neers of get­ting flash fic­tion into dig­i­tal space. Cater­ing to short­en­ing at­ten­tion spans, they merged text with photo to de­liver tales in less than 140 char­ac­ters. They be­gan as just a Face­book page, but now have a YouTube Chan­nel called Terribly Tiny Talkies, and also a TTT app be­sides sell­ing TTT mer­chan­dise on­line. “The art of sto­ry­telling will never go, it will al­ways keep evolv­ing or chang­ing as per the time we live in,” says Chin­tan, “and we sort of re­flect that.” En­abling short sto­ry­telling that moves peo­ple is what they stand for and they in­sist on call­ing them­selves ‘en­ablers’, not ‘cre­ators’. Chin­tan and Anuj say the rea­son they aren’t in the lime­light of­ten is be­cause they want to cel­e­brate their writ­ers out there and do more for the com­mu­nity, in terms of giv­ing ev­ery­one a chance to get pub­lished and then grow. TTT be­gan in the march of 2013 as a re­sponse to the trend of peo­ple not read­ing books but pre­fer­ring to spend time on the in­ter­net: jump­ing from one hy­per­link to an­other and read­ing memes. Anuj thought that the in­ter­net had be­come a very shal­low space and there was a need for mean­ing­ful sto­ries and con­tent. “And mean­ing­ful doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean deep—although a lot of peo­ple think of us as that now—but some­thing that is short and en­ter­tain­ing with­out be­ing shal­low. So, that’s pretty much how the idea of TTT came about,” adds Anuj. He pulled to­gether a team of 15 of the best writ­ers he knew, which is when he met Chin­tan, and kick-started the TTT Face­book page, par­al­lelly run­ning an ad­ver­tis­ing com­pany called Not Like That to pay the bills. They tried to do in­ter­est­ing work with Not Like That, but it was still ad­ver­tis­ing and af­ter a year and a half, as TTT be­gan to pick up speed, they de­cided it was time to switch gears. Mean­while, Terribly Tiny Talkies con­sists of short films. Some of them tug at your heart strings, while the oth­ers give you a glimpse of hu­man­ity’s dark side. The talkies aren’t based on the tales, as the young en­trepreneurs wanted the films to have an ethos of its own. Some of their shorts star vet­eran ac­tors like Anu­pam Kher, Jackie Shroff and Mandira Bedi and their film Agli Baar has bagged in­ter­na­tional film awards at the Man­hat­tan Shorts 2015, New York In­dian Flim Fes­ti­val 2016 and the Mum­bai In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val 2016. Two of their short films Cud­dly and Khu­jli have over a mil­lion views, while Kheer has over two mil­lion views. As of to­day, TTT has col­lab­o­rated with brands like Cor­netto, United Col­ors of Benet­ton, Stayfree and Nikon to cre­ate con­tent that doesn’t just throw prod­ucts in

the reader’s faces. They em­bed the core mes­sage of the brands into their sto­ries. Though ini­tially, they re­fused to col­lab­o­rate with a bunch of brands as they were scared of get­ting a neg­a­tive re­ac­tion from the TTT com­mu­nity. “When you get some­thing like brands into some­thing so pure, it can get very muddy, but thank­fully we moved very slowly and part­nered with brands who val­ued what we did. We had to ed­u­cate them that this was go­ing to be more of a col­lab­o­ra­tive thing, where we un­der­stood our au­di­ence, and that we were go­ing to do the sto­ries any­way. If you want to come on board, you part­ner with us in the right way, so peo­ple don’t get scared of the mes­sage,” say the duo. When asked which their favourite tale is, Chin­tan wit­tily replies, “Have you ever asked your par­ents, if you have a brother or sis­ter, which is their favourite child?” Though, he goes on to nar­rate a tale that de­scribes ur­ban de­vel­op­ment and its im­pact on na­ture in such sim­plic­ity: From the cracks of the con­crete, a lone sapling emerges; re­venge be­gins. This, and other pow­er­ful lit­tle 140 char­ac­ter tales, are the rea­son TTT mush­roomed into a global com­mu­nity. In their wake, TTT’s tweet-sized tales were a breath of fresh air, though cur­rently there is an over­dose of such con­tent across the web. Now that the nov­elty of the idea has worn out, some even say that the qual­ity of the tales has gone down over­time. Chin­tan says, as they scale, it is chal­leng­ing to make sure that the qual­ity trick­les down to every­thing. He fur­ther also lays some of the blame on the chang­ing al­go­rithm of Face­book, “Only the pos­si­bly vi­ral con­tent will go vi­ral, so if we put out some­thing and hun­dred peo­ple like it faster, then 10,000 peo­ple will like it fastest. But, if it doesn’t cut through those 100 peo­ple, and they are not the ones who like the smart or the re­ally good con­tent we cre­ate, then it will only reach 200 peo­ple, so the al­go­rithm also dic­tates how the re­ally good posts reach you or not. If you go through the page, there are lots of good qual­ity tales that didn’t pass through be­cause of the al­go­rithm. So then, we be­come an en­emy of our own prod­uct. Right?” he ques­tions. Anuj ad­mits that there are times when they them­selves don’t find some tales up to their taste. “We are not there yet, we are still try­ing to im­prove the so­cial pub­lish­ing sys­tem, for sure. It will get bet­ter, hope­fully, and be okay with more peo­ple than less. But, it’s im­pos­si­ble to please ev­ery­one. Un­for­tu­nately, we are pub­lish­ing sto­ries of all kind, so there’s is a chance that 2/5 won’t like it and they’ll be like ‘TTT sucks.’”

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