A filmmaking couple tells gorgeous stories from the Himalayas on YouTube

Rohan Thakur and Bharati Bahrani spent their early professional lives in Mumbai’s film industry.
You don’t quite realise the moment you start envying Rohan Thakur and Bharati Bahrani. Initially, you’re struck by their fascinating storytelling and cinematography, before being pulled in by the majestic Himalayas: the snow, the clouds, the quiet. It’s some setting, one that Thakur and Bahrani explore for a living.

The husband-wife duo, who go by the moniker “Ronnie & Barty” on YouTube, have been chronicling their Himalayan life with a lens for a few years now, capturing breathtaking visuals of places both seen and unseen around the mountain range. Last year, they spent over three weeks traversing the Zanskar Valley in Ladakh, which was put together in a marvellous four-part series. A previous nine-episode travelogue, “Soul Trails”, had them journey through a number of tiny unknown villages, and then on to the more popular Tso Moriri and Pangong lakes. Their earliest adventure, Way Back Home, even made it to television back in 2014, airing on the then newly launched Pepsi MTV Indies.  

For Thakur and Bahrani, both 34, the camera has always been an obsession. Both spent their early professional lives in Mumbai’s film industry: Bahrani as a script supervisor for films like Bombay Velvet and Hunterrr, and Thakur, most notably, as part of the cinematography team for Neerja. But even as they ably lent their talents to successful Bollywood ventures, the two always craved greater creative freedom. So in 2017, the couple bid goodbye to Mumbai and moved to Manali.

“Making films in Mumbai has its own kind of rush. But that’s nothing compared to the satisfaction we get here. We are independent and can create any content we like,” says Bahrani. For Thakur, the light bulb moment arrived while he was shooting a miniseries called Under the Rupee for TheVibe, an experimental video publication focused on telling authentic stories, in Hungary. “I saw people living their lives the way they wanted to. That’s when I realised I needed a change in scenery — I just couldn’t picture myself living the Mumbai life 20 years down,” he says. That Thakur hailed from Manali and that his parents still lived there made the decision even easier.

The internet is filled with content creators, but quality travel vlogging is in short supply. In fact, calling it “vlogging” in Thakur and Bahrani’s case would be a travesty — their careful, even exquisite, utilisation of drones, music and editing, all complemented by a moving human touch, is filmmaking at its sophisticated best.

Music is a particular hallmark, the credit for which goes to Thakur, who picked it up at boarding school in Mussoorie. “I’m a bit hampered by the lack of equipment, but music allows me to express myself,” he says. He comes up with 400-500 tracks every year, but doesn’t see himself as a professional musician. “Music feeds my soul. But mostly, I make it and just forget about it.”

Even as their videos make for spectacular viewing, shooting in high altitudes amid frigid temperatures involves immense work. For one, it’s just the two of them, unless they choose to be accompanied by friends. And two, superior camerawork demands dedication. “You can imagine me holding a camera while climbing a formidable mountain pass like Baralacha. It’s tougher than it looks,” laughs Thakur. Expectedly, they employ minimal equipment: in addition to a main camera, Thakur and Bahrani tackle the mountains armed with nothing but a tripod, drone and microphone.

Despite the effort, though, they agree that what they do feels less like work and more like a path to self-discovery. “The thing about the mountains is that there are no distractions, and that makes you think about life,” explains Bahrani. “In Zanskar, there was no network on our phones for 20 days, and that felt amazing.”

“Ronnie & Barty” recently hit 100,000 subscribers on YouTube, a figure that will help the monetisation side of things pick up. Yet, says Bahrani: “Back in Mumbai, we saw people work for the sake of it — just for money. We don’t want to do that with our channel.”

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