In conversation with Manish Dutt, Managing Director, V R Films and Studios Limited

Armaan Madhani
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In conversation with Manish Dutt, Managing Director, V R Films and Studios Limited

In this exclusive interview, Manish Dutt, Managing Director, V R Films and Studios Limited, explains how their company has been able to surpass its revenue expectations through new initiatives along with a focus on localisation to help expand its reach.

Over the last two years several key OTT players have started furnishing mainstream content in local languages which has gained immense popularity, thereby widening the target audience. How is V R Films and Studios uniquely positioned to deliver the best quality in dubbing? Currently, who are your major clients in this segment?

We did presume a boom in the localisation business much earlier. There has been a surging demand for content localised in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and other local languages. The pandemic outbreak during the last quarter of FY 2019–FY 2020 helped in the growth as well. We sensed a great opportunity during this period as the content supply was affected. We try to be ahead of the curve. We had digitised all our studios much in advance and created large digital storage facilities, thus digitising all our content and storing it in-house. We had ventured into remote dubbing solutions by associating with our international partners.

During the lockdown, while all businesses were at standstill, we at V R Films and Studios, with remote dubbing solutions and work from home options, managed to successfully service clients like Netflix, MX Player, Discovery, etc. with Hindi, Tamil and Telugu localised content. This was a path-breaking moment for us. During the first lockdown phase we managed to deliver 150–200 hrs of content every month. Moreover, our library of 75 titles in localised language was licensed to MX Player during the lockdown to service their need. All this was achieved from the confines of our homes. In the last six months we have constructed additional 10 dubbing and mixing facilities in Mumbai, all under one roof.

Our Mumbai facility is now updated with two Dolby Atmos, six Dolby 5.1 mix studios, 11 stereo mix and dubbing rooms. Our combined studio strength across India is now 75 studios with a centralised mixing facility in Mumbai. This is the largest facility in India with output capacity to deliver approximately 1,000 hours a month. We see a massive surge in demand for localised content. The facilities have been upgraded to service our regular clients like Netflix, MX Player, Discovery, Sony and Paramount Pictures. VROTT, our in-house OTT platform, will be servicing approximately 300-400 hours from these facilities additionally. 

Can you throw some light on your film distribution activities, especially with regards to foreign language films?

V R Films and Studios have been acquiring content with all rights since 2005 for the India sub-continent. We have acquired approximately 55 foreign language films which we have released in theatres, on OTT platforms, Pay TV, video, DTH, etc. We have released our films in theatres in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, etc. Since 2004 we have localised our feature films in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu languages and released them across India and all platforms. A few prominent titles are ‘Dragon Blade’, ‘Survivor’, ‘Knock Knock’, ‘Gamer’, ‘Crank 2’, ‘Chasing Mavericks’, ‘The Courier’, ‘Unhinged’, ‘Jolt’, etc. Due to emergence of OTT platforms, we are now very selective in theatrical release. The revenue stream is safe and better on OTT than in theatre distribution at the moment.

What are the biggest challenges you are currently facing?

To be frank, we do not see any challenges in our path to achieve greater milestones as stated above. In fact, we feel that the challenging times are over and we can visualise an upward growth trajectory only. Past experience does show that in times of misery as well as happiness entertainment has always been the winner. We invested our time during the pandemic to strategise our growth trajectory for the next 3-5 years and be proactive to stay ahead of the curve.

What are your key growth levers?

With the burgeoning OTT growth space and the consumption taste preferred by the consumers, there is a huge appetite for content and localisation. All content in Hollywood, Indian cinema and world cinema is waiting to be exposed in localised languages to the consumers. OTT is a monster with a 24 x 7 appetite. With 60 per cent of Indian audience being youth in the age group of 22-35 years, their consumption taste is on platforms like mobile, laptop, I-pads and Smart TV. With growing economy the spending power of the youth is massive. The audience now has a refined taste for world cinema in regional languages – the language they are comfortable in. Language is no longer a barrier. People want a variety in good cinema and other content. This has been proved through the success of content like ‘Pushpa’ (Telugu dubbed in Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada), ‘Sooryavanshi’ (Hindi to Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada), ‘Squid Game’ (Korean to English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu), etc.  

What are your top three strategic priorities?

At the moment our priorities are focused on:

  • Increasing our dubbing output to 1,000 hours or more per month by increasing our client base with best affordable rates, superior quality and timely deliveries.
  • Multiple increase in top-line and bottom-line by making VROTT reach as many subscribers as possible with target marketing, strategic integrations with existing big OTT players and telecom companies.
  • Migration to NSE and BSE main exchanges and creating wealth for our investors.

What is your earning outlook for the upcoming quarters?

We are expecting and hopeful to achieve a multi-fold growth in the upcoming quarters as compared to the last 2-3 years. With our OTT launch, VROTT can create huge earnings. We are targeting to achieve a modest 100-200 per cent growth in FY 2022-2023. We will not be surprised if it surpasses our expectations.

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