Sohan Roy who directed the movie ‘Dam 999’. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

DUBAI: High-profile Indian businessmen in the Gulf are to lead the way in how audiences in India are going to see their movies at the cinemas. And nothing less than a complete makeover to viewing habits is being planned.

A consortium — named “Indywood” — was formed with the express aim to upgrade — or build new — cinemas across India to 4k viewing standards. Last year, 50 Indian millionaires came on board, and promising to build a state-of-the-art facility in their “home towns”. Dr B.R. Shetty of NMC Healthcare is one such investor and Confident Group’s C.J. Roy is another.

“The plan is to bring in 2,000 investors/corporates on board and they will be committing funds from their marketing and branding budgets,” said Sohan Roy, Chairman and CEO of Sharjah-based Aries Group. “It’s way too early to think about such commitments as investments because there is no guarantee on when the likely returns will happen. There is no corporate structure in India’s cinema exhibition space.

 The plan is to bring in 2,000 investors/corporates on board and they will be committing funds from their marketing and branding budgets”

 - Sohan Roy | Chairman and CEO of Aries Group 

“These new investments are being done because the Indywood consortium members believe India needs a viewing experience to match the content that’s being made. And by 2020, India will have 8k screens, at least in the multiplexes. The target is to have 2,000 multiplexes across India, with a minimum 4k quality.”

India currently has “fewer than” 50 screens where 4k viewing can be done. As such, many of these were commissioned recently. Indywood’s target is to raise the number to 200 screens by year-end.

“India has the most outdated cinemas anywhere and that’s a pathetic situation to be in,” said Roy. “Because India has a 40 per cent share in the number of movies being produced each year. In any industry if anyone holds 40 per cent, you have the right to dominate. But not with the Indian film industry.”

Roy says the fault lies with the rundown theatres — many dating back to the 1960s — that are part of the Indian city landscapes. And he has the personal — and bitter — experience to talk about it.

He had directed a big-budget movie — Dam 999 — that released in late 2011. The movie was even nominated to be India’s Oscar entry — in the foreign language category — that year. But that was just about the only good news.

“It was the first 4k scan movie in India and made with 100 per cent sync-sound,” said Roy. “I ending up losing Rs220 million (Dh12.71 million) on the original budget of Rs460 million — that was quite an expensive lesson for me. I could not deliver the final product in the format I made.

“The blame has to lie with India’s cinema screens. Hollywood movies are delivering content in India in a 2k format. A 4k movie is being delivered at 1/4th of its quality. With 3D movies, again there is a 50 per cent loss. That’s when I decided something had to give — the Indywood venture is the outcome of that.”