The web medium has allowed young and dynamic storytellers to tell the kind of stories that were never been told or experimented on before. Natasha Malpani Oswal also decided to jump onto the bandwagon and unleash the storyteller in herself with a different kind of series. Her web series Brave New World is currently streaming on Disney+Hotstar and has already turned into an award-winning alternate reality satire series that looks at how media is reshaping the way we look at ourselves and the world. Starring Anurita Jha, Keshav Sadhna, and Akashdeep Arora, we explore worlds where patriarchy wins, friendship is for sale, coffee is a drug, and being haunted by your own mind is scarier than being haunted by a ghost- in a darkly funny way.Also Read - Services on Disney+Hotstar, Sonylive, Zomato, Paytm Restored After Brief Global Outage
We spoke to Natasha about the film, the untapped genre, and how the web space has given wings to more storytellers like her. Excerpts: Also Read - Hungama 2: Meezaan Jaffrey On 'Shilpa Shetty Ageing Backwards', What's Between Him And Navya Nanda And More | Exclusive
Do you think the genre of the alternate reality is still a bit complex for the Indian viewers to understand?
Gen Z and millennial audiences are very smart. They watch content from all over the world and hold us to a global standard. Most of our audience has watched Black Mirror, and so absolutely gets and understands this space. Also Read - Abhijeet Bhattacharya on Rift With Shah Rukh Khan: I am Not His Voice | Exclusive
With this series, do you attempt to also kind of make viewers aware of their own dark side somewhere… like how we say we all have a dark side that we usually keep concealed?
Absolutely! Real-life can be stranger than fiction. I love dark comedy and satire because you can make fun of things that are absolutely true. With all the unimaginable events happening in the world, we wanted to showcase a twisted world, that could soon be the world we live in. We chose to take a dark comic tone with Brave New World so that we could laugh- nervously- at the madness that we are all a part of now.
What kind of storyteller are you and how does the web medium support your kind of storytelling?
There’s never been a better time to create content. The audiences are shifting what they’re looking for in terms of taste and consumption, and the digital ecosystem is leveling the playing field- we can now explore alternate reality, dark comedy, satire- and new worlds in terms of geography and time periods- like we couldn’t have previously.
At Boundless Media, we tell experimental and genre-bending stories. All our stories are locally rooted but resonate globally. We are very focused on quality- we work on a few select projects in the year- but then go above and beyond to make sure they are stellar. We spend a lot of time on development and scripting before we consider going into the shoot. When our audience can choose from content from all over the world, we know it’s important to focus on quality. We know that our audience wants- and deserves- more.
Do you think this space has got better opportunities for female artistes – whether a writer, a director or an actor?
I think there is so much opportunity for strong talent- regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or background. The ecosystem has become much more meritocratic with the rise of digital platforms- whoever makes the best content wins!
Please tell us about your background, how did you begin telling stories and why?
I was brought up in a family of doctors- academic achievement was the primary focus in our family. I always came first in school every year and was very focused on pleasing the adults in my life, so the obvious path for me was to study medicine. I studied immunology at the University of Oxford, but quickly realized I was not cut out to be a doctor. I then studied development at the University of Cambridge, and worked in impact investing for five years in London, before pursuing an MBA at Stanford University.
All through this journey, I was always a storyteller at heart- I was a part-time journalist and wrote for various publications. I absolutely love reading- growing up, my punishment was having my library card taken away. When I was 9, I started my first ‘startup’ which was a library. I am a poet and have two books published- Boundless and Reinvention.
But I never dreamt I could pursue this as a full-time career until I went to Stanford. I was asked two questions there- what do you do in your free time, and what did you spend your time doing as a child- and I realized that the answer was staring me in the face. I didn’t need to follow a ‘traditional’ career path in investing or medicine- I could follow my own heart. The Stanford MBA taught me to be a little less practical, and allow myself to dream.
Are there any fictional books exploring the genre of alternate reality that you would recommend to your viewers for a better understanding of the genre?
I’d recommend The Heavens by Sandra Newman- it’s set across an alternate present world as well as multiple time periods- and of course, I’d recommend you watch Black Mirror!