Bombaywaali: Pooja Shetty Deora On Building Adlabs Entertainment
Founder of Imagica and Director of Adlabs Entertainment Limited spoke to SheThePeople.TV’s Ideas editor, Kiran Manral, at this month’s edition of Bombaywaali. Deora has set up India’s first IMAX, its first theme park IMAGICA, and has produced various movies like ‘Tere Bin Laden’ and ‘Rita’.
On starting IMAX
My father was a technical science-related business, and I realised it is not for me. They have 90 per cent market share, what will I do? Can I do something else? I always wondered.
Six months before I graduated, my father said that he wanted to set up the first IMAX experience in India. He asked me if I wanted to join, and I said of course. My father had done the ground work in terms of identifying the land, we came in at the finishing stages. My father is good at the big picture, the smaller aspects and building the organisation. Hiring people was left to us. It was a great learning experience. I had a similar experience with IMAGICA, where I had more responsibility.
When we brought IMAX, we played educational videos, and that didn’t work. So they started playing mainstream movies. Our multiplexes were the thing that really helped our business. Movies are in our blood. With multiplexes, we created a format where slightly well-off people could go to the theatre, that they couldn’t otherwise because of hygiene, comfort, other factors. We offered something that was waiting to happen.
“IMAX was ahead of its time. But with our company, we are always ahead of our time, there is a struggle, and there is something good at the end of it”
With IMAGICA we wanted to take an international concept and localised it. The whole process took four to five years.
Consumers of IMAGICA
People respond differently to the product. Transport infrastructure is a problem. We have organised our own bus and transport. But globally, a train station always takes you right to the park. Culturally, we are not used to too much walking, so we designed the park like that. Another problem is the sun, but if you go in the evening, the park shuts at 8’o clock. We are still figuring out how to increase footfalls. We are at 1.5 million and want to do double.
There are apprehensions from a consumption point of view. Everything you see in the park is international standard. If you go to Singapore etc, you will spend three times the amount for the same thing.
We are open to expanding, but is contingent on funding, and finding cities which have a young base. We can quickly expand when we want to, though we don’t have anything in plan as yet.
Being the boss’ daughter
It is difficult to say what university teaches you and what you get. I had a management degree and I learned that there are gaps in systems of organisations. Marketing and HR are not given so much importance, as the previous generation didn’t give it as much importance.
“My father and I worked on different aspects of the business. Together, we complement each other”
I didn’t join an existing company, I came into a new project. I was allowed to do what I wanted to do, as long it was logical. Once in a while, there was the feeling of being irrelevant. But I was much younger. I never felt that there were gender-oriented setbacks.
Going into film production
Now that the park has settled, we want to focus more on the content. Going forward, we want to utilise some of the new platforms and we want to associate with good quality content of different genres. We want to ramp this up.
I feel lucky that I worked in a great environment. Women entrepreneurship forums don’t exist. Whether you are a working woman, or setting up your own business, it is important not to burn out. I have personally been through that. You have to look at your career as a 30 or 40-year project!