India 360 – 10 yrs of multiplexes

Multiplex culture started a decade ago as an experiment to give the silver screen-obsessed Indians a whole new cinematic experience and became a phenomenon that changed the country’s film-watching habits forever.

As the concept completes 10 years in India, it’s perhaps apt to say that cinema’s socio-cultural impact has multiplied with the multi-screen concept.

Not just the content and the technique involved in Indian filmmaking has witnessed a sea change, the audience has also metamorphosed from the tea-drinking, pakoda-nibbling crowd to the Pepsi-gulping, popcorn-munching “clients”.

Watching movies – once a leisure pastime – has now become a multi-dimensional experience presented as “package deal” that includes comfortable, air-conditioned environs, food and perhaps even freebies.

So has multiplex – apart from changing the way we watch movies – also created meaningful cinema?

CNN-IBN’s Bhuepndra Chaubey discussed the multiplex phenomenon with Joint MD PVR Ltd, Sanjeev Bijli; actor Sanjay Suri and scriptwriter/creative Producer Jaideep Sahni.

Multiplex-perience: A package deal

As opposed to the scene in 70s and 80s when people only went to cinema halls simply to watch a movie, present-day audience prefers and demands a more holistic experience. Watching a film today has become more like buying a product where presentation and packaging is equally, and arguably more important.

“When the service industry wants to watch movies, it wants to watch it in a comfortable environment. Specially when good movies are coming out of Hollywood and Bombay, they also want great seating, good air-conditioning and F&B offerings etc,” said Bijli.

However, he maintained that despite the works, content still remains the king. Just because movie-watching is a leisure activity and has to be enjoyed in a “good environment”, it’s ultimately the content that draws the crowds.


Bheja Fry: A smart copy of a French film made with an earthy Indian flavour, infusing humour and raking in more than Rs 4 crore. The film was made in a budget of just Rs 55 lakh.

Jhankar Beats: A rocking tribute to late RD Burman, this urban drama was full of irreverent humour and rocked the box office too, collecting more than Rs 10 crore.

Khosla Ka Ghosla:: The Dilli ki Dastaan (Delhi’s story) with the kind of comedy that took one back to Hrishikesh Mukherjee classics. The film made more than Rs 5 crore. And to think that it actually languished in the cans for more than a year!

Monsoon Wedding: Mira Nair’s cynical and funny take on the middle-class Indian marriage drama, it successfully competed with more commercial biggies like Asoka and Aks to make more than Rs 7 crore.

Mixed Doubles:: A film that brought out wife-swapping out of the closet and even made it look funny. It opened poorly, but picked up in the third week and made a cool Rs 4.5 crore.