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Published on: July 13, 2020, 8:07 a.m.
Mobile movies on card
  • Filme is a panacea for movie lovers

By Daksesh Parikh. Executive Editor, Business India

Imagine sitting in a small village, barely discernible even on a magnified map of the district, and being able to watch a movie of one’s choice with neither access to the Internet nor any theatres nearby. While this may seem to be in the realm of fiction at this stage, Abhishek Shukla, 37, founder of Glocalized QRtech Pvt Ltd, a start-up incorporated in September 2019, has ensured that this dream becomes a reality.

Earlier this year, in June, he inked a contract with Reliance Jio.com to facilitate watching movies on mobiles. He is already in talks with other producers to get the rights for their films made in the past, as also future ones under consideration.

The product in question, called Filme, is a small card, the size of a visiting card, with a QR code on the reverse. After scanning the code using a phone camera, a pop-up screen appears on the same. The user chooses the movie he wants to see and he is then able to watch the film on the embedded microchip on the card. Mobile users get seven OTPs to watch movies over seven days before the validity of the card expires. What is interesting is that these movies can be watched without an internet connection. It is wireless ‘pick and choose’.

The modestly priced card, which costs Rs49-69, is a panacea for movie-lovers who lack the money required to subscribe to multiple OTT platforms like Amazon, Netflix, Zee5 or DisneyHotstar. “It is an ‘online offline integration on a single platform’,” says Shukla.

The master contract, inked with Reliance Industries, gives Shukla’s company the rights for a year. He gets a chance to show old movies as well as those currently playing in cinemas. Shukla has acquired the rights for Angrezi Medium, Bala, Love Aaj Kal, and Stree, among others. He will shortly offer Mini and RuhIAfza.

An innovator with two granted patents under his name, Shukla holds a Phd in International Business and Strategic Management from Melbourne Business School, University of Melbourne, Australia. He had earlier done a course in computer science and also one on film-making from the New York Film Academy. He is currently teaching International Business & Strategy at Charles Darwin University (in Australia). Shukla is the writer, producer and director of two acclaimed Australian feature films – Quest for Versace and Social Media Murder Society.

The first is about an immigrant and the second about the problems of sharing information with unknown persons on social media. He was awarded the ‘emerging filmmaker’ award by the Australian High Commission in Turkey. Shukla has always encouraged innovative ways of film-making.

Difficult to distribute

Shukla found that the distribution of content to people in Tier II and Tier III towns was a big problem. He says: “Digital consumption in India is on the rise, but the infrastructure is not adequate. As of now, India has only six screens per million which is highly inadequate.” There are approximately 52 crore users of smartphones in the country. Of these, only around 18 per cent subscribe to some sort of OTT platform. Shukla says that only around nine crore Indians watch movies on OTT platforms or subscription-driven content.

Shukla says the idea is not to cut out distributors but to ensure that content reaches its target audience. It is “value delivery”. He adds that he is always lecturing on how technology could be used to solve various problems through innovative means and thought it was time to put his own theories into practice and the idea of content delivery at a very affordable price came into being.

Shukla’s idea was validated when soon after he got his patent, he received funding from venture capitalists and private equity funds.

In international markets outside India, movies can be seen simultaneously on the day of their release. In India, however, the practice is that the content of a new film be distributed eight weeks after it is released in cinemas. In the case of Reliance movies, they will allow Shukla and his team to show a film on the 42nd day of its release.

Shukla is also looking at another product which enables Internet transmission of a movie. It is like a transaction video-on-demand for mobile with the content stored on a secured server. There will be a digital forensic code to ensure action against pirated screening.

Expectations are high about the new product and if successful, people even during Covid times will be able to watch movies despite not being able to subscribe to OTT platforms.

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