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Bollywood's New Storyline

The Bollywood has arrived! From the first talkie Alam Ara to the sci-fi thrillers like Krissh and Tarzan -The wonder car to emotional flicks like Black to hi-end animation feature Hanuman to what not, the movie experience of the Indians is not same any more as it used to be decades ago.

Lights, Action
Call it the art of impossible
The Bollywood has arrived! From the first talkie Alam Ara to the sci-fi thrillers like Krissh and Tarzan -The wonder car to emotional flicks like Black to hi-end animation feature Hanuman to what not, the movie experience of the Indians is not same any more as it used to be decades ago.

No long queues, no black marketing of tickets, no uncertainty whether you would get inside the hall, no stereotyped movies with heroes running around the trees. Films are having out-of-the-box themes and are being concluded without cost overruns.

From new concept movies being made to delivering tickets at the doorstep of the consumer, the largest film industry in the world has gone in for a complete makeover.

How has the industry been able to refine its act after takes and retakes over the decades?

Bollywood has been able to widen its canvass with the arclights of leading corporate houses falling on it. Not only the corporate houses are developing a liking for the cinema, the producers and directors are also putting their act together and getting organised by the day.

Call it a GMP (good manufacturing practice) or attribute any management term but the fact remains that a new genre has emerged that is professional and demanding, and use concepts like the CPM (critical path method) and PERT (project evaluation review technique).

Cut to the recent box office hits like Krissh, Rang De Basanti, Fanaah, Phir Hera Pheri, Lagay Raho Munna Bhai, Omkara, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna etc. Quality content, apart from slick marketing is also one reason for the runaway successes of these films. For example, the year's biggest grosser Krissh, which has already made Rs 100 crore and still counting, had set aside Rs 10 crore on publicity. Producer Rakesh Roshan had tie-ups with Singapore Tourism Board and Pantaloon for promoting the film. Some other big brands are also associating themselves with the movies. For Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, LVMH and Nike gave free products and Airtel paid for some TV spots. Another example is Rang De Basanti for which UTV had inked pact with Provogue, Berger Paints, LG and Club HP. The partners spent around Rs 4.5 crore on marketing the film. So it will benefit multiplexes significantly.

Over half a dozen successes in the first half of the financial year and increasing mall culture in tier-II cities are expected to give the multiplex chains like Adlabs, PVR, Inox etc handsome returns. Most of the chains have drawn up expansion plans and will increase their capacity by almost 200 per cent by 2008. As some companies are also into businesses other than film exhibition, the integrated players will see a surge in their top line and bottom line. The growth has also been fuelled by easier access to capital. We have got you the sneak preview of some premier Bollywood companies. Read on the behind-the-scene activities to find out

PVR
If the cineplexes and multiplexes have acquired the cult status in India, then the credit goes to the PVR. The company, which gave the country its first multiplex in 1997, is the largest cinema exhibition player in the country. The company opened India's biggest multiplex in Bangalore, built over 1,20,000 sq ft with 11 screens and a seating capacity for 2019 people. The company also pioneered the concept of luxury viewing with facilities like plush and fully reclining seats etc. It was the first company to receive institutional funding in the cinema industry from ICICI Venture (India Advantage Fund invested Rs 38 crore). It was PVR again which introduced the concept of computerised and online ticketing. The company also brings out a monthly magazine Movies First on the latest happenings and developments in Hollywood as well as Bollywood.

PVR has forayed into film distribution business through its arm PVR Pictures. The latter has tied up with Ram Gopal Verma-owned Factory for the distribution business. The new venture, PVR Factory, operates under the PVR Pictures entity and has exclusive distribution rights for Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal. PVR recently entered into an agreement with Amir Khan Productions for producing movies.

The company has drawn up ambitious plans to come up with 250 screens in a couple of years. As many as 8.8 million moviegoers visited various PVR cinemas in 2005-06.

UTV
The Ronnie Screwvala-led UTV is one of the most dynamic integrated media players in the industry. It operates in the entire value chain from producing and distributing movies, creating content for television channels to dubbing and broadcasting. Its television content division is one of the largest in India. The division, apart from providing fictional content to various entertainment channels, provides solutions to leading international players with non-fiction shows. The company entered into animation business in 1997 and since then there is no looking back for it. UTV Toons is India's largest animation studio and with over 600 titles under its belt. UTV is also into airtime sales i.e sells advertising commercials on various channels. UTV has also distributed the biggest of the Bollywood flicks including Lagan, Sarfarosh, Asoka, Swades, Mughal-E-Azam, Parineeta, Viruddh, Bluffmaster etc. The strength of its distribution business can be gauged from the fact that its movies reach 13,500 screens in India and 47,300 screens overseas. The group also owns popular kids channel Hungama TV.

Shringar Group
Shringar is an integrated film exhibition and distribution company. The company, which started operations in the 50s for financing Bolloywood flicks, has gone from strength to strength. By 1990s the group had established itself as leading distributor. The group has three companies under its fold: Shringar Cinemas, Shringar Films and Swanston Multiplex Cinemas.

Shringar Cinema provides theatre management services and programming model for content selection to the theatre owners. Shringar Films handles the film distribution business and has movies like Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Raja Hindustani, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander, Baazigar, Rangeela, Lagaan, Chalte Chalte, Munnabhai MBBS etc under its belt. Shringar Films plans to adopt 'own the content' strategy for its distribution business. Swanston Multiplex manages the programming and operations of Fame Adlabs at Versova in Mumbai. The group is also planning to diversify into food business under the Via 1 Food Street brand name. In 2001 India Value Fund invested in Shringar to fund the latter's expansion. The fund later on sold 31.56 lakh shares to Temasek Holdings at Rs 62.50 in 2005.

Mukta Arts
Subash Ghai-promoted Mukta Arts is one of the oldest organised players in the industry. The company, which started 28 years ago, is into generation and distribution of contents for the entertainment industry. Perhaps it is the Mukta Arts, which has produced the most number of commercial hit films like Karz, Hero, Karma, Ram Lakhan, Saaudagar, Khalnayak, Pardes, Taal etc. The company's experiment with new genre films like Jogger's Park and Iqbal also proved to be very successful. The company's films have good archival value, ensuring steady flow of revenues. Exhibition and distribution business contributed 50% of revenues during 2005-06.

The company also sees opportunity in animation, special effects, gaming, mobile content and media education. Though the company had offers for television programming, it did not take a call since it believes that it does not have the wherewithal in this area.

The latest and the most prestigious project for the company was the opening up of Whistling Woods Institute for Film, Television and Media Arts (WWI) to train people on all aspects of film making. The institute is also the officially certified training partner in India for Apple and Digidesign, offering certification courses in Final Cut Pro, Shake, Logic and Pro Tools.

Inox
Inox is one of the most profitable chains of multiplexes in the country. The company has embarked on an aggressive rollout of multiplexes across the country. With 11 multiplexes in 10 cities including Mumbai, Pune, Vadodara, Goa and Kolkata, the company now has Hyderabad, Chennai, Jodhpur, Lucknow, Raipur, Kolkata and Bangalore on its radar. In Kolkata, though the company has two multiplexes, it has tied up with local player to widen its canvas. The company opened its screen in Darjeeling in April and in Kota in June, taking its total count to 41 screens. The company plans to almost double its screen count to 98, across 23 multiplexes in 16 cities in two years.

The company has also tied up with Kishore Biyani's Pantaloon group to make a pan India presence.

Adlabs
Adlabs, set up in 1978, started out as film processing company catering to the ad film market. The company today is a formidable integrated player in the media industry. The company covers entire value chain from film production & processing to distribution, exhibition & FM radio.

The company entered the film exhibition business in 2000 when it set up a 518-seat IMAX Dome theatre and Mumbai's first multiplex. It entered into film production business in 2002 through its subsidiary Entertainment One India. It also signed a deal with Synergy Communications to acquire controlling stake in the latter.

Additionally it entered into financing and co-production pact with Hyde Park Entertainment Group, to mark entry into Hollywood.

The film processing division has met with the standards of the prestigious Kodak Imagecare Programme for negative processing. With this feat, the company ahs entered into the elite club of top-end processing labs in the world. Margins from the theatre business continue to rank among the best in the country. Recently the company has shown its intent to cater to the budget audiences by developing low-cost cinemas. In 2005-06, of the five films it produced, four were declared hits.

The company is also credited with introducing the concept of digital distribution. For this purpose the company has signed a pact with Mukta Arts. Adlabs Films Limited sold 50.15% stake to Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (R-ADAG) for Rs 360 crore. This is in line with ADAG's plan to diversify into entertainment value chain from television to radio and DTH.