'I used to watch the same movie over and over again'
Movie watching in the Capital city has undergone a sea change since entrepreneur Ajay Bijli sparked a multiplex revolution with his brand-PVR. Princy Jain chats up the man who re-defined entertainment.india Updated: Jun 09, 2007 21:57 IST
It’s been 10 years since the Capital’s movie watching experience changed forever. The silver screen had never been so fascinating. Enter PVR and watching a film on the 70 mm became passé for the movie buffs of the Capital.
But Ajay Bijli, the chairman and MD of PVR Pvt Ltd puts it humbly, “Indians love movies anyways, I just create an environment.” HT City brings to you the man who re-defined entertainment.
Winds of change An alumnus of Hindu College, Bijli was expected to join his father’s transport business.
But the family also owned Priya cinema, which was more interesting for him. “I was a movie buff. I would sit and watch the same movie over and over again".
"At Priya, we were screening B and C grade films. I approached the studios to get better titles.” As he re-did the chairs and got crispier popcorn, Priya became a family cinema, playing A-grade English films. Bijli followed the call of matrimony and tied the knot with his school time pal, Selena in 1990.
During their honeymoon at Orlando, the couple visited the adjacent multiplex and came up with an idea of a lifetime.
“We were immediately excited,” says Bijli. Back home in India, he laid his eyes on the single screen theatre, Anupam in Saket. “I went to check it out. It was this dark and dilapidated hall showing Razia Sultan,” he says. This was the making of India’s first multiplex theatre.
“From the candy bar to the colour of the wall, it took us 14 months to come up with the new face,” he remembers. But there was an obstacle. “There were no laws for a multiplex theatre. Land bylaws had to be altered,” he states. Times have changed. PVR now takes only four-months from possession to the production phase. “That’s the international standard,” claims Bijli.
The fun combo He is the man who brought together films and food combination at Saket. “I leased out my property to Dominos. It worked. Soon others joined in and we were all set.”
The tickets were priced at Rs 75. Bijli says, “My wife and I would stand at the counter and people would ask us if they could watch all the four movies in that money.” Come August and PVR would add six more screens to its new multiplex at Saket.
“As compared to our properties in Bangalore and Mumbai, Delhi is yet to get that experience. With this new multiplex, we aim to give Delhi a peerless experience.”
He chose to call it a “real celebration of completing a successful ten years.” A self confessed movie buff, Bijli says he enjoys watching movies on DVDs.
“I am so preoccupied while watching it anywhere outside. If it’s my theatre, then I am busy auditing. In any other cinema hall, I find something new to add to our properties.” Ask him what next? “Setting higher standards for us and continue weaving", he says. Cheers to that.
GEN NEXT ON POP CORN CULTURE AND PVR
I get to watch movies more comfortably now. Earlier we had to travel to south Delhi to watch a movie but now there is a PVR in every part of Delhi - Aparna Bhargava, 22
PVR has been crucial to my life as my school was next to one of the PVR theatres. Over the years, the multiplexes have become more classy ) - Shabeer Grewal, 21
Before PVR came to Delhi, youngsters were sceptical to go for a late night show. With PVR coming in, we feel secure. I go for a movie every week - Harsheen Arora, 21.
(Compiled by Padmaja Jadeja)