SHG Women Invest in Tribal Town’s First P3 Movie Theater, Paving the Way for Commerce and Entertainment Hub

The last time residents of the tribal town of Asifabad in northern Telangana watched a movie on the big screen without having to travel to neighboring towns was three decades ago. But, Friday wasn’t just another day.

At the city’s brand new theatre, part-owned by more than 94,000 women, Tollywood matinee idol Prabhas’ latest film ‘Radhe Shyam’ premiered four shows. Unable to handle the rush, theater management began screening five shows from Saturday. The theater was inaugurated by Rahul Raj, a collector from Kumuram Bheem Asifabad district, on International Women’s Day and the first novelty was screened on March 11.

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A new initiative of Kumuram Bheem Asifabad District Administration and District Rural Development Agency (DRDA), KB Theater in Jankapur is a public-private partnership between Picture Time Digiplex, a proven startup that has spurred the concept mobile multiplex, and the Zilla Samakhya, a registered society and the apex body of district-level women’s self-help groups, to establish the district’s first cinema while creating business and employment opportunities for women.

While Picture Time invested Rs 20 lakh and took care of screening and operations, the Zilla Samakhya invested Rs 30 lakh and will take care of maintenance and facilities such as cafeteria, parking lot, toilets, drinking water, etc. Being a 60 per cent partner, 60 percent of the revenue will go to the Zilla Samakhya.

Athram Annapoorna, chairman of Kumurum Bheem Asifabad Zilla Samakhya, said the organization is a combination of 394 village organizations and over 94,000 members spread across 15 mandals in the district.

“Our only objective is to encourage more and more women to start their own business. Revenues and profits from the theater will help us to grant more loans and undertake more entrepreneurial activities,” she said, adding that many businesses are in the pipeline. Women will be encouraged to occupy booths to run businesses within the theater premises, she added.

To conclude an agreement

According to the district administration, the establishment of a theater in the city is a long-standing demand which only grew stronger after the new district was carved out of the old Adilabad in 2016.

An official said: “We have tried different avenues and even approached the State Film Development Corporation with an estimate of Rs 4-10 crore to set up a fully fledged theatre. Being a backward district, the administration cannot justify spending the entire amount on its own or from Gram Panchayat funds.

The theater was inaugurated by Rahul Raj, a collector from Kumuram Bheem Asifabad district, on International Women’s Day and the first new version was screened on March 11. (Facebook/Picture Time Digiplex)

That’s when the makers stumbled upon Picture Time Digiplex, which successfully revived the concept of traveling cinema with a multiplex experience in a cost-effective way. Even then, setting up a ‘portable multiplex’, as they are called, would have cost around Rs 95 lakh.

It was subsequently that the DRDA, as the executing agency, entered into an agreement between Picture Time and Zilla Samakhya of the district to set up a permanent structure at Rs 50 lakh. They founded the project in two months and expected the company to break even after five quarters. “What we have created here is not a theatre. It is an entertainment area and a center of commerce bringing the best of the multiplex experience to rural areas. Our design and screen and sound quality are better than what you see in big cities. So we are a multiplex, but portable,” Sushil Chaudhary, CEO and founder of the startup, told IndianExpress.com.

Its weather-resistant fire-retardant inflatable structure (a patented design) allows it to be moved to another location in a day, while providing efficient air conditioning and Dolby surround sound along with a large 25-by-15-foot screen and seating for 120 people. people. Tickets are priced at Rs 80 and Rs 100. “We buy the latest films like all other multiplexes. We are a fully e-cinema and DCI (Digital Cinema Initiatives) compliant cinema,” Chaudhary added. Unlike the company’s usual portable multiplexes, the KB Theater features a gallery seating arrangement and was installed in 20 days.

Future plans

On the one-acre plot allocated for the theatre, the Zilla Samakhya will set up various types of stalls and recreational activities, in addition to a cafeteria and a children’s park. There are plans for a top-notch play area like in cities. “We hope to create direct jobs for at least 100 women. Located in the heart of the city, there are plenty of opportunities for business and entertainment income which can also financially boost the Zilla Samakhya and its activities,” said Marri Surender, Head of DRDA.

Stating that the response to the new theater has been extraordinary, Anil Thirungari, Site Manager of Picture Time Digiplex, said people were so excited they were even offering Rs 500 for a ticket on the first day. He was expecting houseful shows for the whole week.

While digital payments are accepted, tickets will be available on online booking platforms in a few weeks. The CEO of the company added that they plan to add another screen here in the next 15 days due to the positive response and are looking to have more such screens in the rural pockets of Telangana, India. Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

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