September 30, 2023
Saluting The She-Roes : Natasha Malpani Oswal
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Saluting The She-Roes : Natasha Malpani Oswal

Jun 29, 2023

Natasha Malpani Oswal has carved a niche for herself by making genre-bending movies that are locally rooted and resonate globally.

Natasha Malpani Oswal is the founder of Boundless Media, a new-age creative house that tells stories for a new India. Author of popular poetry books Boundless and Reinvention, she recently co-produced Uunchai, a movie that witnessed a stupendous box office success. Previously, she helmed Dice Media that had invested in projects like Brave New World, Birth and Little Things. Armed with an MBA degree from Stanford University, and two Master’s degrees from Oxford and Cambridge Universities, she was an Investment Director at a $1 billion Impact Investing Fund back in London.

The love of storytelling

From an investment director to a film producer, Oswal’s story unfolds in a very interesting way. Born into a family of doctors (her parents are well-known gynaecologists Dr Anirudh and Anjali Malpani), she was a straight A student who topped in class. After completing her school, she gave her entrance exams and got into a medical school, but soon realised that she had no interest in becoming a doctor, whatsoever. “That was a wakeup call for me. I wanted to carve my own path and hence took admission at Oxford University for studying immunology. It was an amazing experience as it got me an entry into studying and working in England. I became an impact investor at an Impact Investing Fund that invested in education and health. Then I decided to do an MBA and was lucky to have gotten into Stanford University. Silicon Valley is full of brilliant people who genuinely believe that everything is possible and they make it happen. During my MBA programme when I was asked questions like what is it that I like to do in my free time, I realised that my passion was writing and storytelling. I wanted to be in the business of storytelling,” says Oswal.

Having to come back to India after 10 years, Oswal started exploring digital entertainment in the new-age space. “At that time, content companies were just starting out. The web series space was new. I thought this was a very interesting space for new
talent and voices. There were two very interesting digital content companies Pop Races and The Viral Fever. I joined Pop Races, which was a sort of a channel where I got my learning in conceptualising, overseeing scripting, managing actors, etc. Later, I set up my own company and launched Dice Media. Eventually, I thought, why not do films and hence Boundless Media came about.”

Carving her own path

Looking back on how the dots connected, Oswal says, “It has been an interesting journey of telling stories. While I have been on this path in terms of moving from being a scientist and studying immunology to being an investor to coming back to India and being a film producer and poet, I was just following my heart and instinct. I didn’t have a plan, and was just keen on carving my own path.” The passion of becoming a producer also came from the heart. “It was an interesting way to be able to marry the business and creative sides—the film, putting together the talent, making sure that the vision is intact, and so on.”

Boundless Media’s debut co-production Uunchai, written and directed by Sooraj Barjatya of Rajshri Productions, with a veteran star cast like Amitabh Bachchan, Anupam Kher and Boman Irani, turned out to be a huge success. “I heard the story and knew this was a unique concept and needed to be told and I had to back the movie. This is exactly the space we needed to be playing in. The story of the coming-of-age of the older generation was so relatable. I am lucky and grateful to have worked with directors like Surajji and this veteran star cast. It was a big learning opportunity for me and the experiences were so rare and unique.”

Being able to produce this film was a humbling experience for her. “Especially because we were working with the older generation who are at the top of their game. It was so interesting to see people in their 60s and 70s, who love coming to work and have so much passion for their job. The kind of energy and openness they bring is so inspiring for the younger generation.”

The face of new India

Oswal believes in finding her own voice and identity. “It is a process of exploration. It’s like my voice is going to different spaces and that is the beauty of storytelling. I hope the work I do will be a reflection of what is happening in today’s generation,” asserts the proud producer who has managed to achieve success in an industry that is largely male-driven. “I agree that most of the producers, directors and those in the production team in the film industry are men but it is the same across most industries. However, now that the decision making is becoming more women led, there will be a change. We need more female voices. The shift is reflected well on OTT where the popular actresses of the ’90s are making a comeback. We hope to see that change in the film industry too.”

Oswal disagrees with people who see media and entertainment as a glamorous and easy industry. “I think it is much harder being in this industry than being a scientist or investor. You have to be super sharp, manage so many people, speak so many different languages, and have that innate knack of storytelling. It is a very unstructured, informal and chaotic environment. Hence people need to give credit to those who are breaking in and surviving too.”

A vision for new India

What does she look forward to? “My vision is to tell stories for a new India. I want to do web series, podcasts, films, write more books, poetry, and create and support other creators. We are already doing that by backing a slate of directors. We need to have a proper ecosystem for sounding and supporting upcoming talent,” says Oswal, who is married to Pratik Oswal of the reputed Motilal Oswal Financial Services Group.

After spending 10 years abroad, returning to India and readjusting to this culture, was a bit of a transition for her. But Oswal has always dared to be extraordinary and done things differently. “Of course, I have been fortunate to have the support of my family. They have been amazingly supportive, open-minded and helpful,” she concludes.