FLASH FICTION FEVER
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.’”