I want to be a creative rockstar: Sumanto Chattopadhyay

Sumanto Chattopadhyay is the Chairman & Chief Creative Officer of 82.5 Communications, a part of the Ogilvy Group and WPP.


Sumanto Chattopadhyay’s  side hustle -’The English Nut’ is a weekly video series about the nuances of English. Speaking to BW Applause and Everything Experiential, Chattopadhyay spoke about the inspiration behind this series and more.

Edited Excerpts:

Tell us about the inspiration behind your new series ‘The English Nut’?

The inspiration for it is a lot of things. One of my colleagues used to always tell me that you should do something with diction, polishing people’s language and sophistication. I am a Grammar Nazi and I have this mania for correcting people’s English. 

When I was 5 or 6 years old in Kolkata, and I was barely learning to speak English, my father suddenly took up a job in the UK. So overnight I found myself in a school where I could not communicate with anybody. At that stage your language learning capacity is tremendous and natural. I remember that a few weeks later I started speaking and then I never stopped. 

My friends and family used to tell me that I used to talk too much. In my house in Kolkata we had a library room, which was also my father’s study, it had floor to ceiling shelves filled with books. It had books in English and Bengali and I had a specific bookshelf which was the kid’s shelf. Reading books and being in England were two things which really started me off.

You have recently shot an episode with Shashi Tharoor. Tell us about that?

I remember that Hasan Minhaj (American stand-up comedian and political commentator) had given a quiz to Shashi Tharoor asking him questions about the millennial lingo. And he didn’t get any of them right. 

Anoop Menon who works at Facebook told me that as ‘The English Nut’ I need to have a point of view on this video.  I intended on doing it once my channel was a little more established. We got hold of Shashi Tharoor’s email address, his number and then we finally got to one of his managers. And eventually six months later we got the appointment in Delhi at his house.

He came and said that he had just 20 minutes for the interview which made me really nervous. But then the conversation lasted for almost 40 to 45 minutes and I was able to ask all my questions. It was a really fun banter as we both love the subject.

What have been your learnings as far as creating content for your channel ‘The English Nut’ is concerned?

The way that I have approached it is providing worthwhile information to people in an entertaining fashion. While I always had people who subscribed to my channel saying that it is great stuff and I had a lot of people asking why isn’t this channel growing faster. 

I have also realised that sometimes utterly trashy stuff can get millions of hits while something really well done takes a long time. You also have to keep people hooked. So initially I realised that people would drop off after a certain time. There is a lot of information on the internet to learn how to make your content sticky. For example, starting your video by saying, did you know xyz fact which is interesting and is coming towards the end of the video. 

So that is a very simple way of getting a lot of people to wait till the end of the video. To keep the viewers engaged, not only do you need great content but you also have make it visually interesting, it cannot be monotonous in any way.

How does a creative person stay creative? Is it about observation, reflection? Where do the ideas come from?

You have to have an open mind to observe what is happening around you and then you have to use it as fodder. Not only that, you have to see the great stuff that has been done in your field and try to go behind the scenes to know what made it work. 

You have to constantly keep your creative faculties honed. Of course the people who have a knack for creativity will do better, but whoever you are, working at it constantly makes it better.

 What is next for Sumanto Chattopadhyay?

I want to keep expanding my creative horizons. I love advertising, that has always been my first love and I will always continue doing that. I have added the side hustle of ‘The English Nut’ and will also continue to do that. I would also love to explore any other creative opportunity that comes my way. For me, creativity is my lifeblood and it is what keeps me ticking and young. I want to be a creative rockstar and keep working towards it.

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