Kushal Verma: Riding the Creative Business Waves to Mastery
Kushal Verma, a BITS Pilani (Pilani, ‘12) graduate in marine engineering turned creative business guru. From crafting brand strategies to writing and directing, Verma has accumulated a diverse set of talents. With a background spanning digital platforms, startups, and various industries, Verma excels in roles ranging from business design to project leadership. He also has expertise in crafting brand manifestos and growth strategies, all while showcasing his skills as a writer, director, and music producer.
Your journey from Marine Engineering to filmmaking is quite unconventional. Can you share the pivotal moments or realizations that prompted this shift?
My journey has been a long one and didn’t happen in a single step from A to B. I first worked on a ship and then in 2015, I founded a tech logistics startup. As I juggled the demands of running the business, I realized that I had been fueling the creativity side and knew I could use it for something else. I had left behind a lot of the hobbies and extracurriculars I had as a kid to ‘make a career’. Interestingly, it was the execution and problem-solving techniques of my startup that rekindled my passion and caused a very organic shift toward filmmaking.
How did you get started in the realm of brand manifestos, communication, and growth strategies, and what drew you to this field?
Being a marine engineer taught me adaptability and discipline, which is something that will always stay with me. The startup was like my postgrad in a way, I learned a lot. After a while, I realized that I did not want to work in business. I decided to focus on just one aspect that I enjoyed- the creative. I started creative production and worked with A Little Anarky Films, Delhi. I started working with brands. I worked for many brands where my engineering knowledge and startup knowledge came in to be super handy. With each brand I consulted for, I learned a little more about each field. It was in Delhi where I learned how to gather information and consult brands, after which I turned to writing and got into filmmaking. This gave me validation once again that there are no wrong decisions in life, it paves its path.
As someone deeply involved in writing films and ads, what storytelling techniques do you find most effective in capturing and retaining audience attention?
I believe that authenticity is the heart of storytelling. It isn’t just about writing scripts or ads; every part has to tell a story. You can get pulled in by expectations and try to keep everyone around you happy. But the key to crafting relatable narratives and building visuals around them is authenticity. I aim to make stories that resonate with everyone. I feel that building around human psychology and behavior works well. For example, the ‘firsts’ of any emotion- love, breakup, etc are a universally shared experience and easy to relate to. Again, this is the knowledge that you gain over time. As a writer, you are always a little better than yesterday if you learn a little about life and its ways every day.
Moving into the realm of film direction, what aspects of directing ads, short films, music videos, and branded content do you find most fulfilling and challenging?
I think every step in the process is a challenge. Looking for it hard is not the idea, the fact that you have to do it, put your head and heart into it to be able to bring it to life is what has fulfilled me. The first short films I made were 50-hour short films and working on them shed light on how important production, music, graphics, etc. are. Making sure all of these aspects happen well, especially in an industry where your portfolio speaks for itself, is something challenging and fulfilling in the end.
Considering you studied marine engineering off campus, what were some interesting memories that you cherish to date
We were a batch of 240 just for marine engineering. At that time, the Indian Maritime University wasn't formed, so IITs and BITS Pilani were offering the marine engineering course. Our institute required a lot of discipline, and we had 85% attendance. At college, our day started at 5:30 am with morning conditioning, classes from 9 to 4, sports, and other activities (like jamming with the band for me) in the evening and usually ended by 11 pm. We had to be in a navy uniform so it wasn’t just the aptitude and skills but the code of conduct that mattered a lot as well. Although our college life was relatively rigorous, what matters is what you take from it. Our batch was the first to start participating in college fests. Working on creative projects back in college gave me an adrenaline rush and led me towards this field.
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