Indian Noir’s Nikesh Murali shares how to write critically acclaimed fiction and capture India’s Crime and Horror podcasting scene

Indian Noir’s Nikesh Murali shares how to write critically acclaimed fiction and capture India’s Crime and Horror podcasting scene

In this episode, we are having a chat with the host of Indian Noir, Nikesh Murali!

Nikesh is a critically acclaimed crime and horror writer, as well as a globally acclaimed spoken word artist, the creator and voice behind India’s number one storytelling podcast, Indian Noir. He is a Commonwealth short story prize winner and DWL story prize winning writer also received the honorable mentions for the Katha short story prize twice.

He’s also the author of a multi award-winning Amazon bestselling short story collection, the Killing Fields and novel His Night Begins is adapted to an audio version for his podcast. Nearing the end of the storyline, I reached out to Nikesh to talk to him about the origins of Indian Noir and his take on creating such an amazing show.

We talked about:

  • Nikesh’s origin story, how he went from spending decades writing novels, doing spoken word to diving into the world of podcasting
  • His writing process: Using TV and screenwriting techniques to create fast binge-worthy episodes
  • The unique structure behind Indian Noir and its multiple shows
  • Nikesh’s take on the creative podcasting scene and how to tap into it as a budding podcaster/creative

Enjoy!

Timestamps

  • 4:57 Writing in a dying publishing industry: Nikesh’s origin story
  • 8:18 Poetry and the beauty of recitation
  • 11:15 “I’ve always had a very dim view of the world” Focusing on crime, and the start of His Night Begins
  • 14:11 “What about our stories?” The void of Indian crime and horror stories
  • 18:43 Indian Noir’s audiences span the globe because stories transcend cultural contexts
  • 20:31 Spikes in listenership from overseas (US, Middle East, Australia), and Horror in Asia
  • 22:46 A billion people and multiple languages: The sheer potential of translating Indian Noir
  • 24:46 Indian Noir’s multi-show structure: Indian Noir X, One Shots, FearFM and Desi Crime
  • 29:09 “I do not think of Indian Noir as a podcast” Nikesh compares running his show to HBO
  • 29:56 “Television is the most superior, supreme form of storytelling, full-stop.”
  • 32:37 The release schedule for Indian Noir, the podcast run like a TV channel
  • 36:44 My own fiction show, Tempered Fables, the lore and continuity behind it
  • 40:38 The beauty of oral storytelling
  • 41:50 Oral storytelling has always been the oldest form of storytelling
  • 43:58 How Nikesh feels about ending His Night Begins
  • 45:37 “I get complaints if there isn’t an episode” The fierce loyalty of His Night Begins fans
  • 46:18 The pressure of ending a show, and writing a satisfying ending
  • 49:48 Nikesh Murali will be the sole actor of Indian Noir, and why
  • 53:10 The challenges of being a single voice actor
  • 55:12 Indian Noir as a duty, novel adaptations, and the satisfaction of making a podcast
  • 58:33 Invest in your craft, invest in your skillset
  • 1:03:59 The learner’s mindset
  • 1:05:20 What Nikesh would like to see more of in the Asian podcasting scene – critical analysis of the scene itself
  • 1:11:13 EXTRA: More on fiction, backgrounds and accents!

Links

Transcript

Nikesh Murali: [00:00:00] I do not think of Indian Noir as a podcast. In my head, I think I’m running HBO. I’m running HBO and I have numerous TV shows that I need to produce, that I need to cater to a particular kind of audience, and they need to make sure that these are high end shows. So I will think like a studio executive, I think like a showrunner.

I will think like a writer’s room in a TV writing room. And in doing all of this, I employ the TV. It’s clean writing structure, which gives it that binge worthy quality.

Norman Chella: [00:00:44] Hey there, Norman here, and welcome to Podlovers Asia. The show where we cover anything and everything, and the Asian podcasting industry from hosts, producers to critically acclaimed writers of fiction podcasts, and in this episode we are going to take a trip to India to have a chat with the critically acclaimed host of Indian Noir, Nikesh Murali.

Nikesh is a critically acclaimed crime and horror writer, as well as a globally acclaimed spoken word artist, the creator and voice behind India’s number one storytelling podcast, Indian Noir. He is a Commonwealth short story prize winner and DWL story prize winning writer also received the honorable mentions for the Katha short story prize twice.

He’s also the author of a multi award winning Amazon bestselling short story collection, the Killing Fields and novel His Night Begins is adapted to an audio version for his podcast. Nearing the end of the storyline, I reached out to Nikesh to talk to him about the origins of Indian Noir and his take on creating such an amazing show.

In this episode we talk about Nikesh’s origin story, how he went from spending decades writing novels, doing spoken word to diving into the world of podcasting by marrying these two elements together, his writing process where he uses amazing TV and screenwriting procedures to create fast quality episodic content for Indian Noir.

The structure behind Indian Noir because it has many different stories within them. Nikesh’s take on the creative podcasting scene and how to tap into it as someone who might be interested in creating their own fiction podcast. Personal take. I asked these questions and i, as someone who has a fiction podcast on my own, learned so much from Nikesh and we nerded out a lot over a different fictional story structures and all that. So you may enjoy this a lot. Nikesh dives into so much wisdom concerning creating amazing art in the form of podcasts and sharing his experiences with over two decades creating beautiful stories for us to enjoy. Or to be scared of or to be tense in because crime and horror and thriller are all different facets of what Nikesh is capable of in the podcast Indian Noir. Without further ado, let’s dive into my chat with Nikesh Murali of Indian Noir podcast. Mr Nikesh Murali welcome to the show. How are you doing?

Nikesh Murali: [00:03:23] Very good. Thank you, Norman. Um, thank you for inviting me on this show. I’ve been, uh, uh, a fan and follower of Podlovers Asia for a while on Twitter.

As you know, you know, it’s, I really appreciate your work, the work that you’re doing, especially in helping me bridge. Uh, my understanding of the podcasting scene in India, but the rest of the world and in particular how we sit in the ecosystem, Asian podcasting. Um, so very thrilled to be on here and I look forward to our conversation.

Norman Chella: [00:03:54] Of course. I am also looking forward seriously, because there is so much I want to ask. And on the note of trying to bridge the, or trying to. Connect or gain an understanding of the Indian podcasting scene with the rest of the world. There are a lot of eyes on India’s podcasting scene, so. To be able to have conversations like these where we can get insight not only from, well, not only from my end as someone looking inside, uh, but from your experiences as well, because you have probably one of the most popular, critically acclaimed podcasts in India, Indian Noir, which is welcome, which is, shall we say it’s under a crime, fiction and horror.

As well too. It’s a mix of both. So do correct me if I’m wrong or inaccurate in any way, but before we touch on the wonderful thing that is Indian Noir, there has to be a story before Indian Noir came to place, so Nikesh, could you tell me, who were you before Indian Noir came to place? What were you?

Nikesh Murali: [00:04:57] So I am a policy analyst by, uh, by trade.

That’s my general work. So I like analytical work. And I went to university, I did a communications degree and, uh, did a lot of policy specific courses and I’ve, um, worked in the Australian federal government and the various departments and in the private sector as well. Uh, but that’s just the professional me.

Mostly 90% there’s, you have me is a person who wants to create stories, write stories, engage in storytelling, and I’ve had quite a traditional path in the domain in that I went to university, I did a bachelor’s in literature. I started writing poetry. Um, I got quite good at it. I won a few awards.

Then I moved to writing short stories. Did the same, got good added while awards after then moved into the stage where I was going to write a book length manuscript and I got to that point. And then the publishing business to just imploded, uh, people who are just not reading enough. EBooks that come into play and people who are just downloading books for free really.

And yeah. You know the, the traditional structure of a publishing house, well on that as an editor, but it looks at manuscripts, fosters talent, and then puts out publications that was completely shattered. And the same thing that happened at the point of time, not that this was particularly well developed in India, but there was never an opportunity for small magazines or small publishers to exist.

That would, uh, bringing in writers who wrote in niche genres, like crime and horror, you know, gave them an initial break by publishing them in magazines and putting in the collections. Then obviously, uh, you know, publishing manuscripts to certain extent. This is. Quite successful, particularly in the US and then some parts of Europe, like Italy, I think.

Um, but not so, and then so, so much so in India. So what happens at that stage was, you know, I was left with the skillset that I had invested time and money and a lot of efforts and a personal passion into for nearly two decades, and I had nowhere to go. And so this was a very, a very sort of a depressing, um, sad part of my life to sort of go through, um, the way I dealt with it is I just totally gave up on it on writing, and I thought, jeez like, you know, there’s just no channel for me to really showcase, um, my storytelling ability and when I say that, it was quite a depressing, sad, uh, period.

It’s not that I did not attempt to do something to further and pursue my dream. At that point, I tried self-publishing. I tried putting things on WattPad? Um, you know, I, I, I tried other avenues, uh, but none of that really worked and I could really see allowing me artists, um, you know, they’ve gone down the publishing path and they have.

But not finding it very rewarding. A lot of people have given up. So I just completely switched off from that field and just moved on with my life for nearly five years. I didn’t write anything, but at the end of the fifth year, I felt like, you know what? The reason why I did this, and I suppose here is the, here’s the thing, just like a good story structure where the character goes on a journey and the journey is never completed until the category really understands who they truly are and what do they need to change about them.

I came to that point just like that character where I realized the reason why I did all of this was not to be a writer or have a physical book out there. I really loved literature and storytelling. That was the essence of it. So I then returned to my origin of love, which was poetry, and I didn’t write it.

I just read lots of it, and I was always very good at recitation. I used to competing at school and university level, so I thought, you know what? I better use it. The skillsets too. It was like poetry and maybe other people might enjoy it. So I got a Twitter account. I got on there and I started reading, uh, you know, reciting a lot of.

Contemporary, um, American poets, uh, British poets and, you know, their reaction was very effusive. Um, you know, their followers obviously liked it, and then it just spread like wildfire. And. You know, some of the readings I did, I had almost like a million views in 2018. You know, I got work doing voice over for some poetry videos.

Uh, you know, the, I was able to get, excite more people to read poetry and they purchased, uh, books from these poets. So just rewarding, not just on, uh, Oh, so many people liked and saw my work. But. Yeah. Being part of a community and sharing a love for an amazing human end of it, which is, you know, describing moments of life in beautiful verses. Mmm.

Reciting it properly so that you really manifest its true potential. Because a poem, I think, the poem, it’s, it’s real beauty, isn’t it? Recitation and bringing the life out of it when you read it out. So that was a huge hit. And then that was wondering if there could be more to this new found enthusiasm and amazingness that was going on around me and I, and I thought, you know, so I’m, I’m good at writing, Item A, and I’m good at recitation item B, why I know acclimate didn’t go anywhere because my channels were lost. But how about, what if I put these two together, item and item B? And that’s when the idea of a podcast came to me and I was not particularly engaged with podcasts at that stage, but is it just starting to take off in India and Audioboom, which is one of the biggest players in India in that space.

You know, they were very reachable they were very, um, they were happy to get on the phone and talk to you about it. So I was able to interact with them directly to gain an understanding of what I can do in this space. So that’s how I started. So that’s who I was before.

Norman Chella: [00:10:46] Okay. Oh my goodness. There’s a lot to unwind here.

Well, okay, so we have up to 20 years, you say 20 years of, uh, writing, self publishing, traditional publishing. All these channels have broken down and you switched to poetry and recitation and spoken word essentially, whereby the experience or. The, yeah. The experience is in the performance of the poetry said on the microphone.

You married the two skills together and by chance, Audioboom was there for you to connect with and you created the show. I have to ask. Why crime.

Nikesh Murali: [00:11:26] Yeah. Um, I think I’ve always had, I suppose in answering this, we could also come to the DNA of Indian Noir as well, is that I’ve always had a very, you know, dim view of the world, but that does not make me a bad person or a terrible person.

I just, as a person. Look at the dark parts of the world, the darker stories in the world, the darker aspects of human nature, and then exploring that. I find the light in life. That’s how my brain is wired and crime and horror as genres, tend to serve this function where through a crime or a horrifying supernatural phenomenon, you look at life’s problems and then you try to find an answer to that solution.

And that’s how I’ve always been wired in terms of seeking my storytelling ticks and also generally how I view the view life as well. So that was a given, but I’m glad you asked that question because initially when I started Indian Noir, I did two things. I put in a, put out a crime story, and then I put out a fantasy romance story to see what had a better response.

Yeah. So initially I’ve deleted the initial, the episodes that I’m reflecting on at this point of time. But it was called Slow Burn and it was going to map the history of vampires in India across multiple decades. And it’s, uh, is, is, is, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s got more of a romance oriented plot then an action oriented plot or the climb oriented blocks.

I do know there was some positive response to it, but people really liked the crime story, which was His Night Begins, which is still running in patrol, come to an end in the next few weeks. Uh, and just looking at the listener numbers and the listen to feedback, it was an obvious choice. It was very clear that I was better at writing and delivering that as well.

Mmm. And there was a real desire for it. And this is the thing about really dark material. I think people assume that. Okay. Even now, I have people sometimes doing the pandemic say, or you know, people, you know, people are down anyways. They wouldn’t want to engage with it. Well, that’s not your call to make. Some people find enjoyment in it.

Some people, why do people watch our movies? When you think about a, jeez, sitting with a popcorn in a dark room, you know, going through jump scares. It being scared shitless, like I get scared too, but I really want the thrill of it because there was a cathartic experience that comes out of it. So broadly, I would, I know that people like me that enjoy that cathartic experience.

And, um, you know, I would like to provide that. And the part two of the question is, I think is a very important part of the question of answering your great question is of that there are people like me in India who are not getting their fill of crime and horror stories that actually featured Indians.

They have to go to the West to be able to consume it.

So the hard, R-rated, really violent, very dark stories, they have to sit through and watch it on Shudder or HBO Max. Uh, and they are doing that when it comes on Netflix in India as well. But they are watching this and wondering: what about our stories?

Where do we fit in these story domains? And the movie studios and the TV studios and the publishing houses in India are not going to touch these are the stories with a 10 foot pole, because they know it’s niche. They don’t have the, you know, they don’t get the millions because that’s the truth of it.

Indian Noir is never going to be a Joe Rogan show. I don’t care about that. I, I about it catering to a niche audience. So that’s, um, the problem for them. Plus that is the problem of censoring them, looking at this material and going, well, geez, what am I going to offend?

So you get my line of thought in, in putting all those roadblocks together, none of those traditional house creative houses that you would expect to get this sort of content from will ever put this material out. So we have depriving a whole country of these stories because of that. And what happened because of that is as a literary tradition, we never evolved either. So we will never match up with international literature traditions.

And let me just clarify what I’m exactly talking about here. So let’s take the Lovecraft in tradition, which is probably one of the most popular traditions, which is talking about the these elder gods who are representative of existential horror and they come there. They are placed in these stories, right?

To show us how insignificant we are in the eyes of a vast universe that doesn’t care about us. And through that, working on it, working through our existential fears, there are not enough Indian stories produced in this. In this particular tradition, thereby depriving us of a, also having our place in that tradition, but also giving us one more tool to look at the problems in our country through the lens of horror.

So I think, you know, from, from a commercial point of view, from a storytelling point of view, from a traditional point of view, from a literary, cultural point of view, we were just completely depriving ourselves. So I thought. What I could do in my life, my little capacity is to, um, use the podcast and select those two genres to tell stories.

Norman Chella: [00:17:07] Wow. That was probably the most expansive answer I’ve ever heard about. Essentially, the fine balance between traditional entities who are unable to meet. You know, a nice topic because they don’t have enough metrics or, you know, potential censorship or potential, maybe even political influences. I’m not too sure.

I can’t really comment on that. Um, and your ability to be agile enough that you can create. Uh, content like this to fit this niche audience without worrying about scale, without worrying about third party influences, you know, telling you to stop, stop, stop, stop talking about any of this way or stop writing about the dark side of humans this way.

That’s wrong. Um, essentially you’ve put yourself into a responsibility to push the boundaries of Indian literature. And by Indian literature, I mean, actually literature that surrounds. Uh, India specific contexts and, uh, also the dark side of humanity, at least from your eyes, which is honestly, I highly respect as someone that I was, I was listening to your show like just today.

I. Even if I’m not Indian or even if I have not been there before, uh, that, that not, that was not a barrier in me understanding or immersing into the story. So I liked that. Uh, not only do you put a lens on what humans could potentially be, or at least the dark side, uh, but not go to the point where you alienate those who may not understand the context fully.

Nikesh Murali: [00:18:37] Of course,

Norman Chella: [00:18:38] Huge, huge balance right there and huge, huge props to you.

Nikesh Murali: [00:18:43] Yeah. And I think, you know, doing the podcasts and doing the podcast in English is really helpful in achieving that goal. And the other thing is the wider, the role of storytelling and literature, like, you know, since time  Memorial, it’s been a way for us to collate and shout out histories, no matter where we come from.

And it’s a good way for me to know about your people, Norman, and then for you to know about my people and, for us widely engage with the world and understand that. Our stories are the same. We might go through it in different cultural contexts and through different experiences.

Well, that’s the same and thank you for highlighting what you just did with the, the balance and that. What’s, what’s what I’ve been able to achieve by going niche and talk about a particular culture. I’ve then been able to serve a wider population. Yeah. Because you know, it’s not just a hit in India, hidden countries where I did not expect.

It too, go up the ratings and rankings charts because there isn’t a big Indian diaspora population there. And I think the reason has been, that’s the whole of the crime loving audience there. They love the genre, they bleed stories and the genre from everywhere. And when they looked around, they couldn’t find it enough material from India.

So even suddenly, they, that’s serviced by me making these decisions. Mmm. And you know, I’ve always maintained the niche focus, but, uh, you know, it’s even more rewarding now. Do you think that that’s actually having wider outreach? That’d be good implications in terms of chatting our stories.

Norman Chella: [00:20:20] Just a quick point to that, when you started Indian Noir, did you gain listeners more from India more than international in the beginning? Yes.

Nikesh Murali: [00:20:31] Yeah. It was always very India heavy from the beginning, I would say, but I think the real surprise has been for me last year, how much the US listenership has spiked. It’s huge. Like it’s all on par with, with India. Um, Canada, Australia, like, I was very surprised, like, even though I live in Sydney, um, and you know, like I, I didn’t, I really did not think that, um, that would be that much of an interest in Australia to listen to darker stories set in India.

And, but, you know, just really, uh, the middle East, many countries, that’s been huge. But that’s because there is a big Indian population there. Yeah. I’m assuming that’s my audience, but I think there is generally an interest in storytelling and podcasting, um, the MENA countries. So they’ve really come on board and, uh, you know, embraced the show as well.

I would say that in the broader Asian countries, maybe my numbers are not that big. Mmm. But that’s something I’m hoping to remedy and understand more, especially because there is such an interest in the horror as a genre in Asia. If you look at the Singapore charts, the charts that I own, South Asian, but in Southeast Asia in particular, they love their horror stories, the top five, no matter what it would be, um, about scabby stories.

Norman Chella: [00:21:44] Yeah. Horror is up there, amazingly up there in terms of a genre topic. So if you’re interested in, you know, trying to top the charts in Southeast Asia, we love our horror and no matter what format, so if it’s like a story, some sort of, you know, crazy Reddit ghost story or some crazy school haunting story, or even a podcast, I think we’ve heard a Spotify buying like five to six shows and more than half of them are horror, which is insane.

So like we are seeing traction, at least in horror throughout Asia. Not only just like Indies getting population, like, uh, getting more popular, but also companies like willing to actually support that, which is crazy to me. So I, I hope to see more of that happening and I wait, I before it, before we move onto this bit, you did mention one thing, you said that it really helped that you were making the show in English.

Yeah. Would there be any, minus alienating potential listeners outside of India? Would there be any barriers in say, doing Indian Noir in a different language within India, like for example, Hindi or Telugu or something like that?

Nikesh Murali: [00:22:46] Would you definitely, yeah. There’s definitely work going on behind the scenes to facilitate this.

PAUSE

There’s a lot of interest in trying to get Indian Noir into Hindi, particularly the crime story, and increasingly so the horror story. And I think the reason for that is, I don’t know if now is the time to talk about the structure of Indian who are, um, but, um, I think, I think we will reserve that for a, a different, a question.

I meant to bring that into focus, but I think this is a very important question. Because I think I can eliminate about the prospects of Indian podcasting through the answer to this question, and that is,that Indian Noir is popular now it’s critically acclaimed now, but when it actually hits the other languages, it is going to be huge.

And that’s not just because I’m a genius or Indian Noir is a gold standard product. It’s a great product, but. It’s the potential of podcasting in regional languages. So I mean, it’s huge, but you are looking at a country of a billion people who really love and their their native languages and you know, like at time will come when you will look at those podcast charts and I won’t be there.

That’s because all these regional language hits will leave English language podcasts in the dust. There’s not even a chance, but even then, I think having a niche audience like mine would be in my favor, but that’s what I want to remark. But there’s actively an interest in producing in other languages, particularly Hindi, so, you know, I’m not going to give you any solid answers at this stage, but it’s happening in the near future.

Norman Chella: [00:24:29] Okay. It’s okay not to confirm. Okay. But it’s nice to know that there is interest in maybe translating this story or maybe, you know, redoing one of the series within Indian Noir, the podcast, because you did bring this up, the structure of Indian Noir, it’s very unique.

And I want to ask you about this because it is very different from the standard. Um, yeah. The standard fiction podcasts, so Indian Noir is the podcast, but you have multiple stories in between. You have series, you have one shots, and you have bonus episodes where you do chat about many different things, like shall we say, like a behind the scenes for some of the series or some of the one shots that you’ve written.

Could you tell me, maybe walk me through the structure and could you tell me why did you do it like that?

Nikesh Murali: [00:25:18] Sure. Yeah. Yeah. Um, so my goal was to operating the genre, but then look at what kind of structures well, popular within those genres in the general podcasting and story telling scene. And it was very clear to me that the epistolary structure, which is, uh, people reading the experience of someone, uh, going through a paranormal, um, uh, experience that was very popular. So that’s why I instituted Indian Noir X, which is a collection of a paranormal experiences that people have shared with me over the years.

I have got a huge repository of this, 50 plus, because I’ve actively asked people  and I have, because I’ve always been, always been intrigued by the supernatural and have actively, whenever I engage in a conversation, I ask people, have you experienced something like this? Everyone has a story. Everyone has a story that either explains it themselves or, and from a close friend. So I have a vast repository of this, so I want to do, um, have segments where, I could. Uh, fictualize this. Obviously make it more palatable for in a, in a narrative format, and then present that to people.

So that’s Indian Noir X, and then I have Indian Noir one shot, which,in simplest terms, is your classic horror short story. You know, it’s, it’s the, it’s the biggest sellout in the horror genre in literature.

The widely held opinion that horror it works better as a short story than big novels. Yeah. But because of the size of the novels, the sharpness, the, the, the real sort of, you know, the cutting edge feeling of some of the stories are diluted by it, that format exists as well. So Indian Noir X. I did it because it’s the popular format in the podcasting community.

The one shorts I did. Because short stories are popular, but also because it lets me write the story very quickly about something that’s happening here and now. So the one of the things I recommended when, yeah, we initially chatted with. Yeah. For you to look at the, the virus quadralogy that I’ve done recently, four short stories that look at the pandemic and different aspects of it.

So, you know, one shot is great for me to be able to, look at a scenario, type out a story. So, um, to give you an example, Transmission is one of the stories in the quadralogy, which is about this boyfriend and girlfriend during the pandemic, they decided to go. And isolate themselves and they have sex, and through this, the virus is transmitted, it becomes this fungoid body horror story.

Uh, that is the way to examine. Yeah. It’s, it’s a way to look at our fears of disease, illness, what our bodies are. Well, how are we not, don’t understand that. No. The one shot format helps me with that. And then of course we have the big shows. So there are two shows running.

One is Desi Crime, under which I will produce numerous stories of crime. They will be, you know, um, violent hard-boiled action adventures, military thrillers, investigative murder stories. None of those have happened, so come on board so far, but the first story on there is His Night Begins. The most popular story on Indian Noir.

It’s a story of a Hitman going on a revenge spree. Um, so that sits in that Desi Crime basket, and then I’ve got Fear FM, which. Which is a long running series, the authentic connected stories that examines the adventures of these psychics, paranormal investigators, trying to fend off a demonic infestation. Um, the hauntings that really flick the likes of some people.

So that’s the major challenge. And I think this is a good place to talk about Indian Noir, how I view Indian Noir and why it has this binge with the quality to it.

So those two things, the FearFM and Desi Crime baskets they are where most of my production time and my efforts go into, and the reason why they’ve had such success, and I continued with that structure and yeah, having this conversation around the structure brings us to the point that I do not think of Indian Noir as a podcast.

In my head, I think I’m running HBO. I’m running HBO and I have numerous TV shows that I need to produce, that I need to cater to a particular kind of audience, and they need to make sure that these are high end shows. So I will think like a studio executive. I think like a show runner, I will think like a writer’s room in a TV lighting room.

And in doing all of this, I employ the TV screenwriting structure, which gives it that binge worthy equality. I think the engine now and going into the future will be the same. And the reason for that is TV writing. Television is the most superior, supreme form of storytelling, full-stop.

That is the big fish in the ocean. Everything else comes and below it. It’s because of its potential to marry narrative. Music and visuals and be able to sell it in long form. Um, so I’m not gonna clap on it totally about that because that’s obvious, but I, my thought always was, how can we replicate this in the podcasting environment?

And the most obvious advantage for me and for most storytellers have been listening who might be willing to adopt this is that. Forget all the other structures, poetry, novels, all this other stuff, people love television. People are used to the structure of television. That’s what they love the most. So when they transitioned from switching up their TV and engage in a passive act, you listen to a story coming to a story like Indian Noir is comforting to them because they innately understand the structure of the, of the story they’re listening to.

They’re just switching from one TV show. They can save their eyes, to a TV show that’s in their years. That’s, that’s what I would like to say broadly about the structure,

Norman Chella: [00:31:24] A channel. It’s a channel. We have a schedule, and I wait, just to clarify, you have these mini segments and there are, you know, episodes that have a continuity, but are they released as a series like consecutively.

So, for example, is it like, can I, can I expect, say, a Desi Crime to be every Monday or a fear of him to be every two weeks on Wednesday? Or is there something like a set schedule? Because I, what the reason why I’m asking is because, uh, I’m, I’m very, I’m very interested in this structure because I have my own fiction podcast and I’ve actually.

Tinkered with that idea of turning it into one feed, but many shows, right? When by shows, I’m putting my fingers up here, but many shows with many different segments that that satisfy different parts of the overarching narrative. And um, you may treat it like a channel. I treat my like a world. So there is actually a timeline.

There are years, there are stories. Planted it from each years and there are parallel stories. So that’s how I would think that I would, that’s how I would do it. My mind is a bit like that. Yeah. Yeah. No, I like

Nikesh Murali: [00:32:36] that. That’s, I find that quite fascinating. But thinking about in terms of timelines, so I would say, um, you can expect an episode a week from Indianola usually released on a Sunday night, and.

Initially. I’m glad you asked this question because there was a key insight that I can share with people from some of my learnings from the first year. What I was doing was I would release that episode of fear FM one Sunday, then do an episode of, His Night Begins the next Sunday. FearFM after that. His Night Begins.

So, you know, alternating the episodes every Sunday, one a week. And I got complaints. People said, why can you not just stick to one genre one show at a time and still is. Then I changed my TAC and I realized, you know, I should do everything possible to help my listeners have a comfortable experience listening to the stories.

So I can disrupt them, but if I do disrupt them, it’ll have to be for shorter segments, like the short stories in one shot or the, you know, episode literally, one episode, storytelling Indian Noir X. So what I do now is every Sunday there was an episode. It will be either from Fear FM or Desi Crime series.

So to give you an example of what’s happened last year is I’ve done season two of His Night Begins episode 1-14 finish that it said goodbye to it. Then started season two off FearFM one to 14 say goodbye to that. Then come to his night begins and you know, leading up to its completion now. So I will make sure that in one.

Um, that’s, you know, every week they’re getting the same experience. And then once that’s switched off, it’s almost like it gives them the permission to then go, yeah, okay, I can get out of the crime space that I’m going to. Mmm. Um, you know, focused on the horror space. The good thing about having those shorter segments, like one short, and then, you know, our X is that when the whole crime story is going on.

That might be the horror fans who are thinking, Oh, I wish there was a horror story, oh I’m missing it yeah. They do like the crime story, but. Hi, just a little bit, please. You know, I’m a horror junkie give me something. So this caters, uh, this is, you know, the short stories helped me cater to that. And some people just come listen to it, you know, purely for the horror stories, they don’t care about the crime and some people? And by the same token, just turn up for that crime. And wait for six months and then stand up and binge on the crime. So, um, you’re dealing with these multiple audiences for that reason. I think the release schedule is very important. And, um, my, from my experience in year one, I’ve stuck to one complete set of showing the genre finished that move to the next one, but make it regular one a week has been fantastic.

For the show, you know, it really builds loyalty. And that’s the other way, as numerous as the podcast, as you’ve heard from other podcasts as well, regularity is everything. Yeah.

Norman Chella: [00:35:35] Consistency is important, like there is a two way accountability. Your listeners are there to assign your show to their routine and we have a duty to allow that to happen and that’s why we have to have a schedule.

That’s why, to me, the, the notion of having so many segments, especially two long form series within the same feed, whilst keeping multiple audiences, because you are essentially creating different kinds of stories that cater to different people who are looking for different emotional experiences. I mean, I, I mean, if you’re here, if you’re here for a crime or a thriller, you’d want to be tense, right?

You want to know what happens next. You want to know why. Why was this clue left behind? What is he going to do now? What is the Hitman? Who is the Hitman going to kill next? But then on the other hand, you have someone who is like. Just make me scared. Like, I want to, I want to scream like I wanna like, throw in some sound design or something like that.

Or put a, you know, some horrific element. Oh, that’s, that has to be. Oh, well, props to you for that, because now I’m getting ideas for my own, for my own show.

Nikesh Murali: [00:36:44] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Tell me a little bit more about your show and particularly my interest about, and what you were saying about setting it in different time periods.

So are you, are you thinking, are you talking, are you talking about your stories being in the same story, universe, but set in different time periods in the history of your story universe? Oh, see happening simultaneously. But

Norman Chella: [00:37:05] it’s a mix of both. So I’ll give you the premise and see if you can imagine it. So, uh, in the show.

So the show is called Tempered Fables, like tempering glass, tempered fables. In the show, I play a different character. I play a narrator and this writer is talking to the listener directly. We sit by a fire and I tell you a story. And this story is short story fiction, any genre, any genre, biweekly, each episode, different genre, different characters.

The only consistency is the narrator. And more and more as I give in, as I have bonus episodes explaining different things, maybe something like that, I would have little letters that pop up. So letters are when it’s letters from the actual narrator to the listener. And they are journals of the narrator to basically drip in lore that will connect all the different stories together, even if they are really ridiculous.

Like we have talking frogs. We have an a really optimistic bunny. We have a man who is so bored of life that he lets the earth swallow him. Uh, we’ve had this train conductor that was actually possessed and actually swallows the main character hole. Um, we have someone who picked up our record at a store in Japan and he picked it up and it was black completely, but then he’s an artist, so he decides to play a song in the background. But as he goes through, uh, the song, the song was actually really, really long. And there is a song that represents each color in the rainbow, and they each represent different emotions and they trigger a certain memory or a certain trauma in his life.

So he would spend like eight months straight painting, one painting, and in the end, and he has to let go of everything because he has to paint black all over it, you know, like crazy things. Right? But I’ve always said I’ve, I’ve always wanted to try to find a way to connect all of that together.

So my initial idea to structure to show is to turn it into a world where there are timelines, so I can fit the timelines of all the fiction stories that are relatively realistic. You can provide them an approximate time period, and all the ones that are fantasy or action or magic or strange animal characters or cartoon characters, whatever, they can be at a certain time period way earlier.

But then you have to find a way to explain why are there talking animals here and all that crazy stuff, but then they are related to the ones now? And my, my immediate thought was there will be an event, there will be a certain event that will reset everything in between that will disable all fantastical, magical elements.

And the only people left alive are what I call the sages. So the sages are, are essentially. Uh, humans who have transcended, and they are immortal and they represent a certain concept of human life. Um, so you have a Sage of Luck, Sage of Dreams, Sage of Love and Sage of Rain, et cetera. And this narrator is the only person that has outlived every one.

So you will come to the conclusion. He is the only constant. So. I I would really want, I love that you really shared your structure. Cause now I’m getting more ideas and how to make sense of the fact that all my show, all my episodes are not related, but I want to relate them because I put myself in the narrator’s shoes.

Nikesh Murali: [00:40:37] Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. That’s really lovely. I mean, this just gets, so this is the beauty of having oral storytelling. Yep. As a format to share. our imagination as well, because. There’s so much more possible. And in your case you’re like the Cryptmaster from Tales from the Crypt and it’s like a Bocquet of contemporary fiction, but also speculative fiction and marrying them two together and having that constant in the middle facilitates that.

Then you have the great story question or you know, real magic of a to turn in that story. Well, so it’s just amazing. I love it. And structure is, essential. It is. Any good storytelling is making a promise to the reader and delivering it. All of the missing middle in the instance. And the structure lets you do that.

And in your case, you know, that’s what you’re seeking to better able to deliver on that promise or to enhance the problem is, is that you’re delivering already and it’s, it’s, it’s a beautiful thing.

Norman Chella: [00:41:36] Yeah. It is. And, uh, to be able to. Let out these stories to share with everyone and essentially put a piece of ourselves in every character and every action in every response is, yeah,

Nikesh Murali: [00:41:50] don’t forget the book as a, as a, um, an artifact is a fairly recent construct.

Human storytelling was always oral storytelling. That’s the oldest form and that’s, that lasted for a long time before the book came as a construct and then became a commercial object that could be sold. Um, so I, you know, I think it’s a no, but I know that oral storytelling is that superior form of storytelling, um, and capture more vibes.

But in addition to that, there is this whole thing in fiction writing, which is the voice of the writer. I mean, literally when you were doing oral storytelling, they are getting the voice. A lot of people listen to Indian Noir. and I’m sure they’ll listen to you as well because your voice indicates something to them, a bridge in text might have been totally missing. Um, and you were able to give that added experience to them when that overlapped or Instructure overlapped on all these amazing ideas. I mean, you know, it’s fantastic experience.

Norman Chella: [00:42:46] Yeah. I would say that, um. Podcasters are more like digital bards.

You have them being orators like sharing tales and stories from way ages ago, and that is what has entertained humanity for so long. And now we have all these tools to allow us to be like, okay, let’s try all this out. Like, let’s try all the different characters. Let’s try to create all this structure.

Let’s, let’s. Voice and experience. And I really, really liked that. That’s why, that’s how I really like. Um, I love that I could talk to you about this cause it’s kind of hard to find someone who can totally share structure.

Nikesh Murali: [00:43:23] They can nerd out over story structure. I can talk about for hours.

Norman Chella: [00:43:28] I do, I want to ask about, um, His Night Begins, so your latest episode.

Oh, as of this recording, has you mentioning that you are reaching the end of His Night Begins, is that right? Right. How do you feel now that you’re so close to reaching that supposed super satisfying ending because we’ve had India Noir for a year or two years. Close to two years, and that’s what, two, three, four seasons.

I believe

Nikesh Murali: [00:43:58] this is the third season, the end, the final season. So I think it’s, it’s, it’s had roughly 30 to 40 episodes in the first. Two seasons and the reason for those, that large number there, because usually the Indian Noir show has 14 episodes plus season because it closely follows the TV structure is that, you know, like initially it was me experimenting as well.

What works a five minute episode? 10? 50? 35? Like, you know, I just went to town in the first six months just to try and understand them. That’s when I hit the sweet spot of 20 minutes, 20 maximum thirty. Thirty. I reserve it for the grand, you know, amazing action packed episodes to the end because the end people want more and more and more and more.

So you keep giving them more and more and more and more. So. Yes. So how do I feel about it? Let me, let me answer your other question. Um, kicked off them. Yeah. The, I think the first thing I would say is that. His Night Begins was my first big manuscript as well. As I mentioned to you before, it’s that, you know, it was the end of a decade and a half of me training up to be a writer and having that manuscript and then take and having nowhere to find an outlet for and feeling very dejected about it.

I self published it and it won a lot of critic in the claim online. And, uh, you know, that’s always gave me a lot of gratitude. It never had the life that it deserved to live in the minds of people until it became a podcast show. And then even then, because it was such an early artifact of my writing career, I was really surprised at how how much people love the show.

People. People love this story. I get complaints if there isn’t an episode like. If I miss an episode and I’m in a week, I get a complaint immediately. This is, this is just like, you know, unheard of. For most, you feel really successful, right? It’s millions of dollars to have it, but this is just an unusual experience for me as a, as a writer.

So it’s not just, dear to me because of the history. Dear to me also because of the, the love that people have for the characters, especially all the place. They give it online and word of mouth that it’s delivered. Uh, which has often resulted in newspaper articles because that’s how much people love it.

It’s a hard thing to let go of, but I think of, again, I come back to the idea of structure. We see all the time what happens when TV shows just try to milk that story for what it’s worth, extended to four more seasons for the sake of maintaining that user base and then just completely tarnished their reputation.

That just can’t happen and the story has to have a natural conclusion. It has to answer the thematic and the plot question that’s been asked from the first episode. And deliver that within a certain period of time. Just leaving enough room to explore and expand on some of the things that would make that ending more rewarding, but nothing more than that.

And His Night Begins is I think, only qualified to exist as a three season show. Do you know? I think now the, the, pressure I put on myself is to deliver the most satisfying ending writing. It’s there. I think it’s there because I always write to theme. I always find that I never delivered a bad ending because I stick with it.

I’m trying to answer it a thematic question always. And in the case of his night begins, it is if redemption even worth a journey going on? is there something even greater than redemption? If you have been a terrible person to achieve, and in the end, you know, I would be able to answer that question. I can tell from the plot outline that, that’ll be good.

So. That pressure while it exists also doesn’t exist because I’m confident about the ending in the delivery of each episode. There’s always the stress stuff. You know, it’s the, my intent has the, has my intent to be expressed in the clear terms for the background music for the story beats through the sound effects that’s been used.

Um, that’s always, you know, especially towards the ending. You get a bit jittery and you always think about it excessively. Think about it. Mmm. And, um, you know, so those, that’s the space that I’m sitting in. And also what comes next after this, you know, I have numerous ideas about what it needs to be, but especially killing off a favorite character for the show.

Big call, like props to people who do that. And especially now that I have to face it. I really see how difficult it is because the complaints will just start flooding in. I know, I know it’s going to happen, but it’ll have to, everything has to end. That’s the nature of life in general, and that there is something about the question to answer that as well.

So for that reason I think, you know, I think it would be great. And what are the new, I mean there’s something new I do. I can take the lessons from this and employ it and see how it would work. And it’s time to try different things within the climate genre as well. It can’t always be a hard-boiled, um, you know, crime story.

It can be other things as well. It can be military thrillers. It can be, Mmm. I can be a police procedural. There’s just so much there. Uh, in terms of a lens, to look at the same problems

Norman Chella: [00:49:21] with.

And I guess from then on, what to take those lessons to either launch a new segment or create a new idea or explore on, shall we say, a different genre, a different set of characters.

Uh, are you. Going to be planning on anything else coming in like more voice actors or will you be expanding or, or can you even talk about that? Like is it or are you keeping everything? Of

Nikesh Murali: [00:49:48] course keeping always be the case. But I will be the sole actor you are. And the reason for that is because the amount of time it takes, even when it’s just one person putting choosing it.

So to give you an indication to produce 15 minutes of content for Indian Noir, it takes about six to seven hours of work. And that’s writing, rewriting, editing, producing the final, original draft. And obviously I’m recording, editing SFX VGM final cut. All that stuff, and I think adding the layer of trying to communicate with another actor, communicating your intent, directing that person, then cutting that into the thing, uh, you know, I would waste time.

That is better served in me being able to keep my regular episodes up. I’d much rather do that. And you know, like doing this, it challenges my ability to voice act as well. And I think the point to make in that sense with regards to that is that because. In the new artists is like a marriage between a TV show and a podcast and an audio book.

Yeah. Don’t think I can do with the voice is I don’t have to be too caricaturish  with my voice or too unique because that is always the without said or another character said. A tag just like a book. Um, you know, I just need to alter my voice slightly to the extent that it captures the spirit of that character. I don’t have to go full-blown.

I’m talking like a woman for female characters. I don’t have to, it would be insulting as well, but you know, you’re doing your best to create a story environment. You’re not trying to confuse people. You’re trying to help the character relates to that character’s basic motivations and drives and then what they are, how they are imagined, and then listen to head.

If you feel all these sort of quarters, then you know you, you’ve, you’ve achieved your goal. Uh, but broadly, I would say it’s definitely not the answer. There’s no intention of bringing other people in. Um, it’s just not feasible. I, I, you know, I, I’ve actually stopped doing a lot of voice acting gigs outside because it’s just such a hassle.

I don’t know how these people keep running these voice. I can, we got an audio drama shows, props to them. Like it’s just incredible the amount of effort it must take. Um, you know, jeez, it’s not for me.

Norman Chella: [00:52:11] Yeah. I get your point on that. It’s just easier to do this as one person, mainly because. And then it might be another point that you have to consider as well as managing different voices and you get to make sure that they’re performing it right or, uh, getting a good at.

And also to keep it consistent. Because if you have like a drama where you have like, I mean, if be good to do, and then our long form show, that’s 14 episodes, you have to make sure to voice consistent throughout. And what if they cannot deliver it? And that’s not to bring down any other voice actors who are amazing by the way, at their craft.

Yeah. But that is a possibility and it’s just a lot easier for you to just alter your voice, to inform the listener that this is a different person talking. And that is more than enough because the big one is in the narration and nothing beats integration. Um, minus the, I mean, you have the sound effects and the sound design, which is always fantastic, but they are complimentary to the narration.

Yeah. And, and I’ve told this

Nikesh Murali: [00:53:10] There are episodes about I have absolutely wished, and. I hoped for that. You know, I had multiple actors involved because I had a member in particular, the finale for FearFM the second season where the episode has, I think 10 separate characters and I have to take the 10 different voices. I, it was a challenge.

It’s made much easier by having the, the, the amazingly talented voice actors pulled the lines. But then again, it gives you a challenge as well. Like, you know, you’re going to go into the, each episode bringing challenged a bit as well. They audiobook reading after a while. It would be so boring if you, because you’re doing the same and you don’t have the dramatic investment, but I do have the dramatic investment because.

I am thinking like the TV show runner, I’m thinking of like the writing room supervisor. I’m thinking like each of the writers in the writing room, and I’m thinking like the voice, the fact that I’m looking, thinking as that editor on the booth, listening to the voice actor, so all the taxation of your mind to deliver a good product then adds to the excitement of actually producing it and then you’re the sole voice.

Then it’s all doubled and tripled that excitement. So it’s good in that sense as well.

Norman Chella: [00:54:16] That excitement is super addicting. Well, once you create something amazing as a solo episode show or a solo show with all your creativity poured into it and creating episodes over and over again, um, although my path is a bit different than yours, I still relate so much to that feeling.

And Nikesh on that note, I do want to ask a little bit of advice on your end as someone who has been doing your, uh, doing Indian Noir for so long on your thoughts, on trying to break into not only the podcasting scene in India, but the Indian creative podcasting scene. As someone who is heralding or being at the front lines of creating a highly produced show. Do you have any advice for budding podcasters or budding producers who want to create a show that it’s on the same standard as yours.

Nikesh Murali: [00:55:11] Yeah. Yeah. Look, the primary reason why I feel so enthusiastic about producing Indian Noir are every week. It’s the thought that, um, you know, I’m contributing to our valuable, literary heritage and that, you know, my fellow countrymen have a duty to contribute it to, to the same pool of stories as well.

And that Indian Noir can exist as an encouragement for them to join in and do that because we had only enriched by having more voices in the space. More stories in that space. And you know, my experiences are limited. There are only so many Indian experiences that my human body has been able to consume and thereby be able to talk about.

Yeah. About us having many people of different orientations, different sex, different people coming from different parts of India. Uh, Being able to play in the playground, crime and horror in particular, in my case, it’s just going to enrich the experience for our listeners. They can listen to Indian Noir and they can move on to the other show and listen to that.

Just come out and thoroughly entertained at the end of a week. So that’s a beautiful ideal scenario.

But what I would say to achieve the dream goal is that there is no point in even thinking on those lines if your writing skills are not good enough, and if your narration skills are not good enough. Um, even after having a decade and a half experience, I had to learn to fine tune my writing for the audio space, it’s a bit different because one thing that’s going to happen, like with the success a lot of fiction shows, is that people are going to dust up their old manuscripts and just read it into a mic and let me tell you, that’s not going to work. It’s absolutely not going to work because you would have to narrate and invest in an audio version of your work that was meant to sit on a page.

It’s just not going to read the same. You will soon find out that when you wrote it, you did not take that extra step of actually reading it aloud and making it sound like it was good. Like for me, for example, when I write, I will sort of say the dialogue out loud, um, to see if it works.

Now, so, you know, so it’s an added advantage when His Night Begins from the first two seasons I’ve adapted from the novel, I had that problem. I started reading it out and it was rubbish. Um, might have been good on the page, but it didn’t sound that good. So then I would have to constantly, you know, I really, it’s an adaptation of the novel, not the exact novel.

So don’t just, you know, brush up and. Um, just just read your manuscript and expect it to be a success. Uh, two is where were you at when you produced the manuscript? How good was your skill? I mean, it takes a lot of skill to be able to write to a complicated structure, like a TV lighting structure. Do you know how to write to that structure?

Do you understand that really well? Do you know how to write fast within that structure? Do you know, uh, how to adapt that structure to different genres? Are you as an artist able to answer all these questions? And if you are not. I’ll tell you what, what do you need to do in a bit? But let’s then now come back to narration.

If you take a piece of text and you can read it and you’re reading in a monotonous way, or if you’re not. Uh, being able to distinguish between the narrative bits on the, the dialogue bits, what you’re not able to do, voice, character voices, uh, even to it. Like, you know, you don’t have to do the exact voice even to a nuanced end.

Then why are you even doing this? So stop and those two points, just stop and then go back and reinvest in your skillset. So for me, I’ve always been like, I’ve spent thousands and thousands of dollars just trying to train myself as a writer, which I still do. I just keep. On top of all the screenwriting books that come out or the Fitch.

I don’t do the fiction writing books anymore because they think that structure, I don’t think it works. I don’t, I don’t think it should bother investing in that. Go look at movies, structure, TV structure, the most dominant forms. Learn that inside out, practice the writing on that, and then you to get to a point where you’re very good at it and you’ll be able to it fast in that space.

So that’s what all attended courses. And again, with attending courses, may I like stress that you actually state to learning TV and movie lighting fiction writing workshops over fiction writing workshops, because I find that that’ll, it’ll be a lot more useful for you. The narrative storytelling space that is dominating podcasting.

Um, based fiction in the narration side of things. For me, I did not have the experience. I actually did a lot of online courses. Everything from some of the cheap courses on Coursera. Um, Udemy too. I actually did some fantastic courses with some London-based voice coaches who actually train actors from places like the, like the national theater, in Britain.

That’s the amazing part of the internet. That’s, you know, now you didn’t even have to fly to London. To study with someone who’s trained Benedict Cumberbatch or, uh, you know, like so many favourite actors. You can just do it online, but this takes time and effort and money and you must invest in that in before you step in.

But once you’re set up in that space, once you understand all of that, what’s your confidence  go ahead and try, um, delivering content. And initially it’s not going to be great. You’ll get complaints, they’ll improve over time. Your niche audience if their trust you, they’re always going to follow you through that journey.

It just happened to me as well. That’s what I would say. But get your craft really good. Because you know people are investing 10-15-20 minutes of their valuable, valuable time with you every week. And you really want to enrich their life with the experience you’re providing, and that comes from being solid in your craft, solid in your ability to narrate.

That solid story, and then being able to produce the content to the best of your ability. That’s a bit I missed as well. Like, you know, audio production is a huge part of it, especially fiction. Uh, you know, the layers and layers of sound that need to go BGM effects, lining it up at the right time, making sure that it doesn’t overwhelm the narrative.

Listening, re-listening to see whether it actually achieves the experience that you’re going to get. It sounds tiring when I say this way, but Hey, that’s the whole reason why you took up a creative pursuit in the first place because you want the exhilaration of doing it.

And let me tell you, like above and beyond any novel you’ve would write or any short story you would publish in a magazine, this keeps you a lot more a happiness as an artist, and the outreach is a vast, if I had, you know, going on from and succeeded in publishing, His Name Begins as a novel in India, 3000 people would have read it. It would have been the bestseller, I would have a couple of reviews. Okay. I mean, there’s no way it would have happened, the audience that it has now. Absolutely. Zilch. Nada. So if you are a writer and. You are willing to, uh, invest in all these other domains that are essential to producing a good, audio experience of storytelling? Then, you know, please do it.

This is, this has just been the best thing I’ve done in my life and it’s the best choice I made with relation to where to apply my fictional skills.

Norman Chella: [01:02:23] Fantastic. I love that. And, uh, I am a living example of what you should not do. Because I recognize those domains the hard way. When I did episode one, I did not do any voice coaching.

I didn’t learn anything about audio editing. I didn’t know about proper writing fiction writing. I just, you know, I just do like short stories, like more like. Flash fiction, that was the word flash fiction. And from there I just expanded it onto more and more lengths and I realized just how much work it took to create one fiction episode.

And I realized all these domains were so difficult to achieve. So I had to set the standard, I had to go 1% greater, and no matter what domain it is, so I had to start. I did take voice coaching and I did, and I did the same. I did the Udemy courses and I, I, I did, I started reading books and writing and.

A mix of both nonfiction and fiction writing, uh, and some, some writing for TV as well. So screenwriting books as well. So, uh, a little bit of that, and I realized just how many flaws came about or how many flaws surfaced from my previous episode. So I was like, okay. I’m noticing this. That means it’s, I’m either absorbing it, my body’s getting used to it.

Okay, I need to write more while I’m still on this a while, I’m still realizing this. So that’s, uh, that’s how we would get to where we are. Like we, you started off the show, like episode one will always be the lowest point. And it’s always going to be going up and up and up from there. So, you know, to be able to achieve that, it’s just a fantastic,

Nikesh Murali: [01:03:59] yeah.

Yeah. And you want to learn, and Norman, and I think, you know, I just wanted to illustrate the fact that you know, that what you’ve just explain that is phenomenal, and that is exactly the attitude one must bring to any endeavour. One engages in the podcasting fields, in any creative art that you want to excel at.

And uh, you know, it’s that process of constant learning that you’re talking about. Even the ones where you failed, you were taking notes. You were learning more and more. And then. Post that you took those notes, you did additional training to get to where you were. So, um, you know, props to you for doing that.

And you know, that’s what I’m doing. Even now, every episode is a learning experience and I have to go out right now, a lot of my education is actually watching what’s great on TV at the moment. And. Taking notes and understanding, well, it’s failed about it, succeeded, and then taking those learnings. So I’ve reduced my consumption of textbooks in the space because now it’s a matter of looking at actually how it’s delivered on, on screen, on the page.

So yes, it’s a constant process of evolution and learning.

Norman Chella: [01:05:02] Yeah. So even if you have a critically acclaimed podcast, you’re still in the learner’s mindset and always creating more episodes over a time. And now Nikesh, final question, what would you like to see more of in the Asian podcasting scene?

Nikesh Murali: [01:05:20] I would really love for us to engage more. Um, and I don’t mean just in an in an online sense when this whole pandemic nightmare is over to have more avenues for it, Asian podcasters to get together, to share that experiences, to celebrate each other, and to really appreciate it and understand how we have become, uh, of, uh, in the next evolution, particularly for her fiction.

I think in terms of a, yeah, we will get on the cutting edge of what will go on to be an amazing phenomenon, because I can see this growing into from the auditory experience that it is at the moment to AR VR. I mean, jeez, this is in the sky, the limits of what, where we’ve started, the journey that we’ve begun on.

It’s endless and I think coming together would be a way to talk about those things and supporting each other on achieving those goals. There is not much cross promotion going on in this space. It’d be great to see, that’s happening a lot more, but also just, and I’m guilty of this as well, just trying to listen to more in that space, um, in, in, in what’s happening in the Asian podcasting scene.

My resource would be  the charts that Apple and Spotify and Chartable put out. That’s how I discovered Asian podcasts and some of them might come across. I think one of the things that I’m also embarrassed about is that my favorite podcasts generally tend to be American.

And I think a big reason for that is because there’s a lot more critical literature surrounding those things. Helps me engage with them a bit better. So what I’m really hoping is that. It’s great to have more podcasters, but there is a whole niche for people who cover and analyze Asian podcasting in particular, write or present interesting episodes that you look at. Uh, it critically look at the trends. To get to the future for it. Look at the past, the what’s driven, the creation of some of the podcasts, some of the podcast genres that have been very successful, particularly in the nation context. It would be, I think that has to be step one.

That really has to be step one and all the meetings and the engagements can come underneath the umbrella of that because that didn’t gives you the stubs of conversation that’ll be meaningful when we see each other face to face as well. I’ve never found that, you know, I’m not a fan of having a conference for the sake of having a conference and then coming up with topics to talk about it.

What I would be interested in having a conference that’s constantly caters to and covers podcasting in the region, if, if it’s constantly maintaining a level of narrative and critical literature around. Some of the topics that should be of concern to us, and then bringing that into a conference where people who have been excited about these ideas throughout the year, read about it, spoken to each other, one on one come together, and then it becomes a real blossoming.

Of these relationships and these ideas, I think that’s when an art form, it takes the next big jump. You can always see this. Okay. Literature, art, it’s all these people practicing it separately, coming together in great, bohemian communes in places like Paris, and then having this explosion of new movements and new expansions in that art form.

So it’s time to replicate that. So I’m hoping some of that happens in the Asian scene as well.

Norman Chella: [01:08:58] And of course breaking through all the cultural barriers, the geographical barriers. If we can combine all the different Asian podcast communities and there are Asian podcast communities are on their small silos and to connect them all together, I’m sure that we can achieve that level of explosiveness.

Uh, in the rise of Asian podcast shows Nikesh. Thank you so much, and I’ll talk to you soon.

Nikesh Murali: [01:09:21] Lovely to be on here. Thank you so much.

Norman Chella: [01:09:24] And that is it. My chat with Nikesh Murali of the critically  acclaimed Indian Noir our podcast. Amazing conversation. We went the full range from trying to design fiction to fit the audio space, the different processes that Nikesh uses to write a story.

I love listening to his structure and the way that he articulates his thoughts when trying to express these different. The storylines, these different one shot stories, these different explanations on why he has to teach, chooses to end his season. His explanations and why he is finishing up with his main flagship story, His Night Begins.

Of course, links to everything will be in the description right below this episode, especially links to his podcast, Indian Noir. I highly recommend that you check out his website because yeah, it will categorize all the episodes by their theme or by their storyline or by their category, so you can pick which story or which series to dive right into.

There is a story here for everybody from horror to crime, too. One shot stories. So you can check it out, all written by Nikesh himself. Anyways, that’s it from me. I hope you enjoyed this episode because this is one amazing long episode that I really, really treasure take care and I will see you in the next episode.

Nikesh Murali: [01:10:50] Norm.

Norman Chella: [01:11:05] Oh, wow. Thank you so much. It’s amazing.

Nikesh Murali: [01:11:13] Thank you. Thank you. It was great to talk to you about Asian podcasting, but generally for us too, I have this time to just nerd out about fiction podcasting in general. So I really look forward to seeing where you take your podcasts, because I really, I’m really intrigued by the structure you’ve used and.

I, you know, I think I just see great potential in you being able to link up a lot of your listeners to different genres and speculative fiction in particular through your sort of magical phase. But even the real phase just. No, just just, um, helping them engage with different genres, but also just challenging your skill as a writer.

To be able to write and all that. I really love it. It’s a fantastic idea and I really hope that, you know, you just take it to the next step.

Norman Chella: [01:12:04] Yeah. That structure, I can visualize it, but to be able to articulate it throughout, uh, throughout a show is, it has been a bear that’s been. Uh, clawing at me for a while.

And, uh, since this pandemic, uh, a lot of things that happened, I had to pause to show, sadly. Cause, uh, I do a couple of other shows as well. Uh, and especially Podlovers, it’s gaining traction. So I’m prioritizing that over time cause I’m doing this full time. So it’s a bit, um. Tragic and that I have to pause tempered fables.

But yeah, I hope to, I can literally, like, if you give me a whiteboard, I can draw you the timeline. Like I can draw you like episode seven, go Sarah, episode nine, episode 12 episode 22 episode 20 I can do it like it’s, it’s crazy. It’s been plaguing my mind and I have like lore episodes and all that coming up, so hopefully we can touch on that.

So

Nikesh Murali: [01:12:52] I think it seems like once you nailed the central shtick of the show. Which is what’s causing, I think in, but you haven’t, you it done the central narrative, the thing, but maybe a more enhanced version of it. And I, you know, when you said it, Tales from the crypt, immediately came to my mind. I think that’s, that is the reason why the Cryptmaster still exists.

Just usher in the stories and why it’s such an addictive format. So I, I’m, I’m not going to belittle you by calling you your character lit. Uh, this cryptmaster,  I think it can be elevated into something even more amazing. Um, I just can see so much potential and especially on the speculate defection front, I’m really excited for you.

Norman Chella: [01:13:34] Yeah. It also gives me a really good excuse to go anywhere, any direction. And it’s a reflection of my character because I really, whenever I write, I can’t stick to one genre. And I’ve always thought that that was a problem. And I know I had to.It only took me quite a while until I could finally accept that, Oh, the change in genres is who I am.

So it, it’s that I’m worried that maybe that’s just me being selfish whenever I really shows a release episodes.

Nikesh Murali: [01:14:05] That’s why people are gonna come to you. People gonna come to you because that’s your selling point. As long as you deliver on the promise you made at the beginning of the story. It doesn’t matter how many times you switched a little bit.

People who appreciate that they’ll go, you know what? This is not like the run of the mill stuff.

Norman Chella: [01:14:19] Yeah. So. I need to read more about the Cryptmaster cause I haven’t heard that term in so long.

Nikesh Murali: [01:14:27] They recently made a TV show out of it. It was not very successful because they didn’t supply it with enough money to make it properly.

But you know, the older ones, they, if I think I’m pretty sure that available on three on for in YouTube, I never used to follow them. But you know, because I’m very interested in how people structure stories. You know, it’s one of the things that I’ve come across in a lot of textbooks as well. But you know, I just feel like so much can be done in the speculative fiction space.

So stick with your dream of producing something awesome with temper fables. I love it. I love it. It’s usually when I listen to people’s stories as I go, Oh yeah, okay, that’s good. But I think, you know, like you’ve got an exciting format there too. Cool. And just expand. That’s important. Expansion is important.

Norman Chella: [01:15:15] Yeah. I mean, I really wanted to go macro with it because that was when I realized that. Both being immersing, writing to just one story and then the next one, and then the next one, and then have this one constant was it felt so right to me. I was actually excited to write each and every episode, even if they had nothing in relation to each other.

Like one was about romance and then was about eating ramen in Tokyo, and then the next one is about this child who could kill you. Guess it’s just weird. It all kinds of things. Now I have to go, I have another call coming up. And I just want to ask one more question, uh, where, what’s your accent, by the way? Is it Australian?

Nikesh Murali: [01:15:54] Yeah. Yes. Yeah. It’s, look, it’s a mix of different accents, and I think the reason for that, just because. I, so my parents are South Indian and my father was in the United Nations, so we traveled a lot. So we were based in the middle East. So I had this kind of crazy schooling where I never nailed the syllable structure in English and my, because it is my third language and my way to cope with that problem.

Was to assimilate the little structures sounds from everyone I listened to. So, you know, so you’ll hear stuff from the middle East. Indian, I lived in Ireland for a bit. You’ll hear of that, obviously Australia is very multicultural, so you will hear sounds from that. Um, and then obviously Australian sounds, but it’s such a mishmash because of that inadequacy that’s deep in me, which is that, no, I never got the proper education.

Um, in terms of the pronunciation and the syllable structure of English. So I’ve had to cope. And this is coping.

Norman Chella: [01:16:51] Oh, I understand. It’s the same for me. I, I’m indigenous East Malaysian, but I went to, I moved to Holland when I was 10, went to a British school for six years, and then I went back, I went to Australia, I went to Sydney actually for uni, and I took a one year exchange to Japan.

So, uh. My thinking is in Japanese, but my English is like strange. Like depending on who I talk to, I code switch so much. So my British friends, I speak British and my Aussie friends that speak Aussie and I go to Malaysia and I just say I’m Australian cause it’s just funny. And I was just really curious about that.

So thank you for that.

Nikesh Murali: [01:17:30] Your diction is perfect by the way as a podcast host. Your diction is perfect.

Norman Chella: [01:17:37] Thank you so much.

Nikesh Murali: [01:17:39] Pleasure.

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