Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Our benchmarks are not in cinemas, but in hospitality: PVR's Ajay Bijli

The multiplex chain recently unveiled a new super-luxury category of screens called Luxe, starting with two screens in Mumbai's Lower Parel

Pankti Mehta Kadakia
Published: Jun 14, 2019 08:53:04 AM IST
Updated: Jun 13, 2019 04:09:59 PM IST

Our benchmarks are not in cinemas, but in hospitality: PVR's Ajay BijliImage: Amit Verma

While recliner seats may be ubiquitous now, PVR’s new Luxe format—a rebranded, revamped version of its ‘Gold Class’ screens—have upped their game. Its large, plush seats feature, among other things, a personal tablet menu for each patron; charging points; blankets; a state-of-art sound and projection system; elegant lamps and rotating meal tables; and so on.

Tickets will start at ₹500 for this new format, which also has high-end curated F&B menus from celebrity chefs including Sarah Todd. PVR chairman Ajay Bijli speaks to Forbes India about the new strategy.

Q. What prompted the shift from Gold Class to PVR Luxe?
The term ‘gold class’ is no longer relevant; I find it quite tacky now. With this [Lower Parel] property, it attracts a lot of people, which is great, but that also means it is subject to wear and tear. Luxe is its refreshed avatar, and we wanted to make monumental changes, not incremental ones. The demographic is excellent—they love their movies and care about the environment they watch them in. So we looked at everything from scratch, from the carpets and legroom to the sound system and food; we didn’t want anything of the old PVR in here. While I can’t control what’s happening on screen, I can provide an exciting environment for it.

Q. Did competition from Inox, which has luxury Insignia screens, inspire this format?
To be honest, I haven’t visited Inox Insignia. I’m really looking into how we can improve, and my benchmarks aren’t just in cinema—they’re in hospitality. I’m inspired by good hotel, restaurant and mall design, or what Singapore Airlines and Emirates are doing in service. The market is large enough to hold us as well as Inox. This is my own interpretation of how I want movies to be shown. What PVR is now graduating to is great quality service, beyond aesthetics and design, inspired by the likes of the Oberoi group.

Q. PVR Home was recently launched, a social and live entertainment space near the cinema in Delhi. Is the group exploring more hospitality verticals?
PVR Home is a fun concept, targeted at cinemagoers who are looking to do something after the movie. To me, it is an extension of cinema hospitality. We don’t plan to get in to the pure hospitality space, but will do everything we can within the ecosystem of the cinema.

(This story appears in the 21 June, 2019 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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