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Virtual Revolution

India’s first Virtual Reality Lounge takes you to the very cutting-edge of entertainment – it’s totally immersive, it’s totally mind-blowing

Gautam Dutta wasn’t kidding when he said, “This is really going to change the way we see movies.” Dutta, CEO, PVR Cinemas, said these prophetic words at the launch of Asia’s first Virtual Reality (VR) Lounge, courtesy PVR cinemas in collaboration with HP, last Tuesday. 

Located in Noida and called PVR ECX, the VR Lounge delivers an incredibly immersive and interactive experience that blurs the lines between what’s real and what’s not. Users can sample this mind-blowing experience at any of the four VR pods in the lounge, equipped with the latest HP technology. It is available to the movie-going audience at the price of Rs 100 for 15 minutes. PVR says it plans to roll out three VR lounges in Mumbai, three in Bengaluru and two in Delhi.

The Noida lounge was inaugurated by actor Ranbir Kapoor; Sanjeev Kumar Bijli, Chairman and Managing Director, PVR; Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR; Sumeer Chandra, COO, HP India; and Ketan Patel, Senior Director, Personal Systems, HP. Ranbir Kapoor experienced the breathtaking concept of the VR Lounge in the presence of his fans and the media.

Sanjeev Kumar Bijli said VR technology is a great way to promote films and that PVR would strive to enhance it with time. “Gautam Dutta and his team were working on this initiative for a year or so. Honestly, even I was surprised with what they had done. We have a few short films as far as this format goes. I think it’s also a great way to promote films by talking to celebrities and other people from the film industry and I hope they come up with some short content to promote their films in the interest of consumers.”

With his eye on the future, Dutta compared the VR Lounge to a “trailer” of a really big development that will be unveiled a couple of years down the line. “This is what the world is turning to and we are happy that PVR has yet again taken a bold step towards the future,” he said.

Asked about full-length movies being shown in VR format, he added, “I can tell you that no one would want to watch a whole film in this format. It is good to watch short films of not more than 15 minutes.”

Sumeer Chandra pointed out that this initiative has brought together gaming and entertainment under one roof. “We have been looking at virtual reality in HP for some time now. There are several consumer segments that virtual reality will impact, with gaming and entertainment being impacted most. We are going to see more and more lounges in cinemas because they complement the movie-going experience. It’s a huge trend in the US and I thank and applaud the PVR team for brining VR to India.”

Ketan Patel waxed eloquent about HP’s partnership with PVR. “To me, this is a partnership of two leaders. India is a country where the youth love gaming and content that is really immersive. This is what we are trying to create by means of this unique partnership. This technology really powers VR content delivery. It is the first partnership for us in the entertainment space.”

Patel went on to reveal that HP is also developing partnerships with different content providers, in fields like education and healthcare. “Some of these associations will bring in a tremendous change in the way technology can be used by people,” he said.

And what did Ranbir Kapoor think of the new VR experunnamedience? “It was mind-blasting. It was amazing to experience a technology that puts the consumer right in the middle of a scene. Being an actor, I am afraid it might kill our movie-going audience but what I experienced with the VR lounge was incredible. It’s just you and the technology, and you are completely shut off from the world. It’s like you are the centre of the universe and everything is happening around you. Going forward, everything will depend on the content. The technology is there and with the right content, it is going to get more interesting and more engaging.”

Kapoor also had a message for everyone. “We are pushing the envelope with entertainment and technology but I have a message – it is really important to spend time with other human beings. Spend time with each other and ask your kids to go out and engage in sports. Don’t get consumed by electronics.”

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