As PVR Pictures introduces a new brand vision with distribution of diversified content, Kamal Gianchandani, CEO, PVR Pictures Ltd, talks to Bhakti Mehta about this new step, the motivation behind it and their content strategy for the near future
Being an established name in the industry, especially with Hollywood films, what was the inspiration behind taking this new step?
The thing is that we have been doing independent distribution of Hollywood films for a very long time. We started doing it in 2002, so it has been going on for 17 years now. And we have seen that 90 per cent of Hollywood films that come to India are in the independent space. In order to grow our business in India where Hindi is the biggest segment, it is tough to scale up a business without that factor. So, to expand our business, we thought this was the best time as we are seeing all kinds of films work in theatres right now. We have tied up with Reliance Entertainment and we have recently released their film, Super 30. We had a good feeling about this film especially since the star of the film, Hrithik Roshan was coming back after a long time. The film shaped up quite strong and now it is seeing so much success at the box office. We have also got the film Batla House next, which releases on August 15. For that we are associated with Panorama Studios. We are working with the head, Kumar Mangat closely there. Batla House is looking very interesting in terms of content. It is very powerful and commercial but is not that kind of a film that is an out-and-out commercial fare. It is based on true events and it will be an interesting film for the audience to watch.
How did these tie-ups happen?
You can say that these partnerships have been built on the relationship we share with the production houses. Since PVR Cinemas and PVR Pictures have been around for a long time, over 20 years, we have had a long-standing relationship with various entities. It is basically a result of these relationships and these are people and production houses that have seen an enormous amount of success. They make good quality films and know their advantages well. I wouldn’t get into details of specific numbers but these are all long-term relationships and you will see us working together for quite some time. In addition to these relationships, we are always looking for good quality films.
Why do you think there is a need to be part of distributing diversified content?
Hindi language films still remain the primary source of content consumption in the country. But Hollywood has grown massively in terms of scale and size. Also, regional cinema is doing so well as it is often dubbed in Hindi and finds a lot of acceptance. But the Hindi market is just growing bigger and bigger. Look at the business that Kabir Singh has done. It is the highest grosser of the year so far. And it was impossible to believe it would become so even in one’s wildest dreams. We always knew that it was going to be big as it stars a huge name like Shahid Kapoor and it is a remake of a very successful Telugu film like Arjun Reddy. But for this film to do this kind of a business and that too so quickly in times like today was something else. The number of screens is growing; the audience building the habit of coming to cinemas regularly is great because business is growing. A lot of people have been telling us that digital streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime are hurting the business of cinema by pulling people away from the theatres, but it is not true. In fact, all this is another stream of revenue for producers. It pushes them to make bigger and better films, which is good for cinema.
Does analysing consumer trends help in taking such decisions?
I would not say that we analyse stuff and then do strategic planning for our work but yes, to an extent, we are always analysing stuff because as a corporate entity we have resources dedicated to it. We have other resources using online channels so we have these things where we are constantly analysing things but still we don’t forget that we have been in this business for over 20 years and have an enormous amount of experience, which helps us know what is happening in the business and where is the space to grow and we have consistently been building and investing in this business. The combination of the intelligence that you derive from the data and your conviction that you get from the experience of being in this field helps you to plan accordingly.
Can you shed some light on the upcoming line-up of your films?
We have a lot of diverse content with us for the coming year. There is a film called Section 375 which features Akshaye Khanna and Richa Chadha, Commando 3 with Vidyut Jammwal and we are also involved in films like Sooryavanshi, which stars Akshay Kumar. In the Hollywood space, we have got Rambo 5, which is part of a very successful franchise with Sylvester Stallone. We just released the Keanu Reeves’ film John Wick 3 and it did really well at the box office. We have big directors, big budget films, and a big and interesting line-up for the future.