Ali Husen-Tape a Tale ki Storiyaan

Ali Husen

TapeATale comes with the firm belief that everyone has a story to tell, and each of them deserves to be heard. TAT is a storytelling platform that presents space to young storytellers to speak, listen, feel, share, and connect with their stories. Ali Husen and Kopal Khanna founded TAT in April 2017. One can record and send their stories to be heard on the platform from around the country. And their presence in the digital media is proof of their nationwide audience and fanbase. From their sold-out shows, Kahaaniya to being featured in The Hindu newspaper, this duo has had it all! Ali Husen, one of the co-founders, had a talk with us where he spilled the beans on the genesis of the page as well as the inside scoop of creating content.


Questions and answers

What was your initial inspiration behind starting Tape A Tale?

I didn’t come up with the idea initially. It was Kopal’s idea that formed Tape A Tale. I was actually at Bandstand, right in front of SRK’s house at the time. But that story is for another time.

Can you talk to us about creating content for the digital platform? What inspired you to create something that shifts away from the dynamic of a typical digital content creator?

The idea isn’t necessarily to shift away from other content creators but to put out content that we want to show the world. When one does that, it has to be done in the way one wants it to be and not in the way it may just work. I get so many ideas for fresh content, but most of the time, it just never sees the light of day, mostly because my will isn’t ample to put it all together. So a lot of what I write stays trapped in a book, locked away.

Can you take us through the creative process that goes behind curating the final piece after you receive an entry and how long does it take typically for the team to review and edit it?

The prime focus is the story and then the narration. When someone sends in a piece, our team goes through every element of it and reverts with feedback, accordingly. Vidhi and Kopal personally decide which story is to be told and makes sure every story gets a chance to be heard.

Can you tell us your experience while organizing 'Kahaniyaan'? How was the idea conceptualized?

Truthfully speaking, it is a funny story. We always wanted to conduct events, but the website didn’t have enough traffic. Our initial idea was to have an audio library consisting of stories. One day I was talking to my mentor and updated him about the current situation. He was doubtful whether anyone would pay for such events, and I lied to him that I had conducted an offline survey. I told him that I had received a positive response and people were willing to pay. So, he advised me to use the existing platform for the meet-ups, and I was asked not to build one from scratch. His words made sense to me, and so I told Kopal and Utkarsh about the new development. They gave a nod to this idea, and that led to the formation of ‘Kahaniyaan.’ How the event was organized is a story for another day

Can you tell our readers a bit about your events and open mics, too, and how can they register for the same?

So TAT organizes three types of events- Kahaaniya- This event is recorded and is held twice a month. The best performance is uploaded on our YouTube channel. House Of Stories-This is much more of a house-gig, which is much more informal and intimate. There are no cameras, so people can just be themselves and enjoy the event without feeling pressured or intimidated by a cameraman. There’s a lot of chips at this event. People are allowed to tell their stories in various art forms like spoken word and music, among others. Kahaniya Showcase– In these events, we manage to bring together a few of the most renowned and beautiful performers, and all of them tell their stories in one single event. It does get crazy at times!

How have you been managing the storytelling during this lockdown? Has it become difficult?

We have been doing events regularly on video conferences. But at the same time, it’s not possible to bring the same intimacy when it’s not live in front of you— a real event is a whole other feeling. We keep trying different ways of providing the audience with the same sense of our content and keeping them engaged.

Everyone has their highs and lows in life. Can you share your mantra with us, as to what you follow to defeat the lows?

Three lines somehow make a lot of sense to me and together are my ultimate mantra:-

1) Miles to go before I sleep (Robert Frost’s Poem)

2) This too shall pass

3) Everything is going to be alright

Run us through your routine on a regular Monday at Tape a Tale.

I think the best thing about working at TAT is that I don’t have a proper routine. Some days, I am on the set calling the shots, and then other days, I just sit at the editing table and keep cutting shots. There’s no confirmation as to what the next day will bring.

Which is your most favorite piece at Tape A Tale, and why?

A parent never accepts the fact that they have a favorite child. I also believe it is wrong to question a parent’s favoritism towards a child out of two or more. And so every piece is my favorite, I cannot be biased at all. There isn’t a piece that I could love any less.

You often post about positivity and creativity on your account. Is that what has influenced you and you wish to pass on to your audience?

I strongly believe in spreading positivity just to balance out the amount of negativity that surrounds us all around the world. My work is not positive in any possible way as one has to swim through the darkness to find the shore of hope. I try to post as much positive content as I can, but it’s not often.

Your Instagram bio says- “I’m a mockery of conventional wisdom.” Could you elaborate on that?

At various stages in my life, I have taken the most unconventional decisions, decisions that wouldn’t fit the conventional world in any aspect. Even then, I have managed to get more that I could’ve ever imagined. People often ask me for pieces of advice, and I just tell them that I’m not sure if I am the right person to tell them what and how especially considering whether the decisions I took would help them at all. To be honest, I am not sure how they are helping me! Having said that— I love giving advice.

How did your family react to your decision to be a content creator or create a storytelling platform?

My family has been incredibly supportive from the very beginning. They didn’t know or even understand what I did— until recently, and they started following it and looking into it. They honestly never showed any concerns about how I was shattering my life. But obviously, fear was written all over their faces.

What were the problems that you had encountered when you initially started with Tape A Tale, and what did you do to overcome them?

I used to doubt myself, and I lacked expertise. Because I wasn’t even from the entertainment industry, no one used to take me seriously, it took us two years to create our label as a storytelling platform. We built ourselves by holding onto our small victories and kept aiming higher. In the end, if you want to achieve something, you have to keep going. No matter how you feel or what people say about you.

Could you give us a little more peek into your life- as in, how do you dabble work online, and how does Tape A Tale operate?

I am usually always working behind the scenes. You’ll either find me in front of a computer screen or behind the camera. It’s not that I am camera shy, but I feel like I have more to contribute behind the scenes. When you are running a company, you are always thinking of and finding ways to grow and enhance it. It is the same with me as well. I want Tape a tale to reach a wider audience and help people share their stories

Popular storytellers like Helly Shah and Sainee Raj have done a lot of collaborative projects in association with TapeATale. What, according to you, makes them good at their craft, and what should one do to polish it?

Honestly speaking, there is no particular way of doing it. For Instance, Sainee has been in the industry for a long time. She has even written a short film before making a stage debut in spoken word poetry. Her confidence has grown over the years, and fame has nothing to do with it. Speaking of Helly, she has a unique style, and her one-liners hit all the soft spots. Her piece ‘Dosti Ka Break-Up’ is relatable that it is hard to recreate something similar to it. So, what I would recommend aspiring artists is to perform in open mics, write consistently to find your style, and while doing so, you will build your craft. One might do 80 extraordinary things, and nobody won’t even care. And then you do one decent job, and everybody will lose their minds and figure out how amazing you are at what you do and so you have to figure out that one thing that you are good at and is sellable so that you can club it with all the extraordinary things that you have.

You’ve listened to so many inspiring stories watched lot of content. Is there a person you won't forget or a memorable event that you were a part of? Or something that you learned along the way of meeting new people?

There have been plenty, so much so, I don’t think I’ll be able to pick one out right away. But our very first event was exceptional— it still gives me goosebumps after all this time, whenever I think of it. Kunal Kamra had hosted the show. People were standing inside the bar counter because there wasn’t enough space and it was the most unforgettable experience of my life.

What would your suggestion be to young storytellers, who look up to your platform or wish to perform at Tape A Tale?

I’d say, don’t just focus on performing at TapeATale. Focus on the craft of performing and storytelling; keep practicing it. The best way to improve is to face your fear and stand in front of a crowd and perform wholeheartedly.

Quick 5

  1. YouTubers– They can give something from every single video they make. Be a platform that not just entertains but also empowers people.

2. Social Media– Don’t just run behind numbers.

3. Digital Content– Just because one can make something, it doesn’t mean it should be made. One can always put more effort and time into creating.    

4. Tape A Tale– Everyone who wishes to tell a story should say, “Let’s tape a tale or let’s TAT!”

5. Photography– The ability to tell stories in a single frame.