Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sangam Cinemas: Poised to fill the void in Chennai theater scene

In the past 2 years when I was away studying outside, chennai has made rapid strides. The modern retail boom has caught up, the quality and variety of restaurants, cafes, pubs and other hangout places have grown dramatically. Hell! even the number of radio stations has increased with one even playing english music sometimes, much to my pleasant surprise. The interesting thing is these changes are not restricted to South Madras where the IT boom is centered but also to central madras and to some extent north madras regions. While the retail outlets, restaurants, hangout joints and even services like high end beauty parlors have spread all over the city access to quality movie theaters in central and north madras has not improved. Sathyam, Mayajaal and City Center remain the only options for the young educated while collar workers in the age group of 25-35 when it comes to English movies.
Ega and Abirami have tried screening English movies in the past but have failed to attract sufficient audience. This is not surprising considering the poor infrastructure these theaters have. Is there a market for another quality English movie theater in Central and North madras? are you kidding me with areas like Annanagar, Chetpet, Kipauk, Kellys, Purasaiwakkam the region is packed with middle and upperclass households with large disposable incomes. With no quality offering nearby all of them now endup at Sathyam cinemas every week...with the kind of supply demand mismatch especially in the weekends and traffic problems all of them would readily switch to other options near to their homes if given an option.
In this context Sangam cinemas can easily become the preferred choice for this audience and consequently move up the value chain as it has many things going for it

1) Located at the Poonamallee High Road Kilpauk
2) Easily accessible in terms of road connectivity
3) Good infrastructure (ambiance, parking, sound, etc etc)
4) Has started to play English movies regularly

However IMO to succeed in moving up the valuechain it will have to take a few steps

Make sure that the guy who picks up the telephone knows english...if you want to attract a cosmopolitan crowd then we need to communicate with him in the global language
Employ more security staff in case the some people disturb the audience while the movie is playing
Improve the Cafe in terms of variety
Price the tickets higher (for heavens sake we dont want friggin whistling and hooting during a power packed dialog or a touching romantic scene)...
Increase the number of shows during weekends

Sangam has a lot of potential...I hope it becomes the next sathyam of chennai....Gook luck