Everything else.. Ratta in Spotlight – Going from 35,000 to 1 Million Subscribers!

Ratta in Spotlight – Going from 35,000 to 1 Million Subscribers!

2021 Jul 9

Rathidu Senarathna, who is better known as ‘Ratta’, recently sat down with Pulse to talk about his eventful journey. A popular Youtuber, social media content creator, actor, director and philanthropist, he has many achievements under his belt. Read on for a sneak peek at his life!

Let’s talk about your life before ‘Ratta’.  Can you tell us about your family and education?

I was born in Ja-Ela, and there are five of us in the family; my mother (Miriam Botheju), father (D.M. Senarathna), elder brother (Isuru Senarathna), younger sister (Surekha Senarathna) and the middle child – me.

I was a good student since both my parents were teachers.  I was obedient and innocent. I acted and competed in stage dramas, sang, danced, and I was also a member of the basketball team.  I found my skill for content creation years after I left school.

I schooled at De Mazenod College, Kandana, in the Commerce Stream. Eventually, I became a Chartered Management Accountant (CIMA, ACMA and CGMA). I spent around 8 years in the corporate sector before I spontaneously turned to YouTube. I have said my farewell to the life of an accountant and now own 3 channels as a full time social media personality.

How did it all start for Ratta?

It started during my job, as a hobby. I shot videos leisurely during weekends and when they went viral, I realised I had a passion and talent for content creation. This continued for 2 years. In August, 2018, I quit my job and got into full time content creation. I had around 35,000 subscribers in August, 2018, on YouTube and by December it was 100,000. This year marked one million subscribers for me, and I am the 3rd Sri Lankan solo YouTuber to receive the Gold Play Button Award.

I have collaborated with talented Sri Lankan artists. I love to work with Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya since we look alike. He also likes the idea. I also think of going international, but not just yet. When the time, talent and system are right, my dream is for Sri Lanka to win an Oscar!

You made a big change in job roles. Was becoming a YouTube content creator challenging?

It was a very big risk. I let go of years of corporate experience to choose a completely different field. All my family members were a little conservative about what profession a person should choose. They couldn’t understand what digital media was. However, I was confident. I thought if content creation didn’t go well I can switch to the corporate world. But by that time the digital media industry was popular, and I was quite confident that it wouldn’t go wrong. Success comes from taking risks. I, myself, had made a few decisions that didn’t go as planned. I felt the social pressure of throwing away my corporate status and its perks from family and outside. They were curious but confused. But I chose the right industry and it all worked out.

Ratta’s father’s character is a massive hit. Were you inspired by your own father?

Appachchi at home is very different. I wanted to portray the stereotypical fathers we usually have in Sri Lankan homes for people to relate. The generation gap is the biggest gap between parents and children. They mostly don’t understand what we do and vice versa. That gap is highlighted by the father’s role, and a majority of boys identified with this relationship. The uncle’s character who always likes to chill and have a drink became a hit for similar reasons. 

My biggest fan is my appachchi. He reads all the comments and gives the best feedback. He tells me not to do certain things after reading the negative comments. Same goes for the good.

Your passion earned you a Gold Creator Award. Tell us how you felt?

I knew I did something right and felt proud and genuinely happy. My confidence in this industry grew, and I realised its impact and potential. There’s great self-satisfaction in knowing my content is seen by celebrities and politicians as well.

When you get a video idea, what’s the process like?

I used to create short Yarn type videos at first. This didn’t require much thought. Then I changed my style to script based short films. When I’m developing a story, I think about it when I eat, sleep and drive! I’ve even dreamed of ideas! If the idea is up to my standards, I get into production.  I don’t publish content to appear on screen daily. It takes time and planning for a quality production.

What are your thoughts on popularity and how do you use it?

I don’t wear fame for vanity. I wear it humbly as recognition for the work I’ve done. At times, the attention gets a little overwhelming and invasive. I love to go unnoticed and have a good time with everyone, but now it has become a little difficult. However, I am very grateful because I am here for and because of my fans.

Mehewara’ is my social service initiative. COVID-19 got in the way, but we organised the biggest in-house blood donation campaign and sanitised more than 80 elders’ homes in Colombo. 6,000 trees have already been planted in our 1 million trees initiative. We plan on distributing 100,000 masks, and a few other projects are in the works.

Tell us a DO and a DON’T for aspiring creators?

Do keep going and don’t stop. Content needs to keep coming to establish yourself in the industry.  Ignore the haters like I do. I see a lot of talent dying because of this. Take constructive criticism and eliminate the rest.

Don’t do it for the money. It took me 2 years to earn 100 dollars. If I wanted money, I would have given it up by now.

What do you do to keep your content interesting and original?

My script; I make it as original as possible by adding twists. Also, I make sure I show something important in the story every 5 seconds to keep it engaging. This originality cannot be stolen.

What’s next for Ratta?

Social media stardom isn’t permanent. When I am no longer in the spotlight, I am preparing myself for every possibility. Till then, I am going forward with quality content.