In the world of cinema, experience is everything. Despite the reign of Hollywood, the post Covid-19 period has witnessed a rapid increase in the consumption of world cinema by users. This includes regional cinema in countries like India and even consumption of movies from Europe, Iran, Korea, Japan, etc. This presents a use case clamoring to be fixed i.e. to enjoy cinema in your preferred language inside a theater (which OTT fixed to an extent) amongst other audiences.
Well, whenever there is a problem, there are solution providers. Aditya Kashyap is one such personality. After dealing with multiple industries and use cases, he joined hands with his younger brother to find a solution for this problem i.e. Cinedubs. A solution that allows the user to watch movies in their preferred language alongside someone who prefers another language inside the theater without disrupting the experience.
We hereby welcome Aditya Kashyap to talk about Cinedubs. How did they come up with the idea? What is the technology behind? And many other questions that could tickle a cinema lover’s curiosity.
Who is Aditya Kashyap?
1) Tell us about your journey and your professional background? Also, how did you come up with the idea of Cinedubss and what was the motivation behind it?
Okay, I’ll quickly share about my career. I started in 1995 after college with my first job at the airport. I’ve spent a solid 6 years in the aviation industry. In 2001, I transitioned to the BPO industry. After that I’ve worked in banking, telecom, health insurance, and healthcare. I also had a business venture in the U.S. Also, after returning to India, I ventured into the solar energy business. My last corporate role was as the CEO of Majorel which is a multinational company in India.
Let me tell you an interesting story. In 2015, I was traveling to Paris when Mission Impossible 5 released. Being a fan of the series, I tried to watch the movie in theaters, but every venue was showing it in French, which I couldn't understand. This experience sparked an idea. I realized that many people worldwide, like myself, who live away from their native cities or countries, avoid going to the movies because films are typically shown in the local language. This led to the inception of Cinedubs.
My co-founder, who happens to be my younger brother and a tech enthusiast, received the problem statement from me. He is a techie and his forte has always been finding solutions to problems. The moment I explained my experience, he took up the challenge.
Over four years, he and his team developed Cinedubs, a unique technology that addresses this language barrier issue. We discovered that there was nothing similar in the world, so we filed a patent in India, the US, and Europe.
Cinedubs officially launched on July 1st last year, with 'Rocketery: The Nambi Effect' (Bollywood) as our first movie. Mr. R Madhavan joined us as our brand ambassador. Since then, we've released 15 movies, with the 16th one expected tomorrow. We've seen around 88,000 downloads globally, marking a significant milestone in our journey.
2) Can we talk about the initial challenges you faced while coming up with Cinedubs?
Creating the product posed a significant challenge for our technical team, led by my co-founder and his team members. The complexity of the task is reflected in the four years it took to achieve it. So, when a person in the theater hits the play button on their mobile phone, the audio in their language synchronizes seamlessly with the scene on the big screen. This level of accuracy in syncing was a mesmerizing achievement.
Recently, I demonstrated the product to a couple of investors, and they were amazed at the seeming impossibility of such synchronization.
Transitioning from the technical development phase to entering the film industry was a hurdle. With my corporate background and my brother's expertise in software, and considering our lack of connections in the film industry, it took us one year and three months to secure our first movie.
Selling a product to the film industry proved challenging without any contacts or connections. In March 2021, I initiated marketing efforts in Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Bangalore, but for 15 months, we faced rejection.
Our breakthrough came when I met Mr. R Madhavan and showcased our product. This led to our first movie, 'Rocketry.' However, this period was full of challenges, compounded by several months of lockdown post-March 2021, which further delayed our efforts.
While it has become somewhat easier now with a track record, it's still a demanding task. In India alone, with over 400-500 movie producers, reaching out to each one remains a formidable task. Despite our track record, we still need to approach them, demonstrate the product, and convince them to come on board.
3) How do you ensure that the play time is perfectly synchronized with the movie running in the theater? Also, is it using AI?
It's not AI; it's a Software as a Service (SaaS) product. Let me clarify the technical aspects. In a film, the speed at which it runs in theaters is 24 frames per second determining how the movie plays out.
“The significant achievement we've made because there's nothing similar in the market or the world, is this frame matching technology.”
We've achieved a high level of accuracy where, out of those 24 frames per second, we match the exact frame within that time frame, and it's entirely automated.
This is how it works. When you hit the play button on your phone, your headphones' microphone listens to the on-screen audio for 3 to 4 seconds, identifies the frame within that time span, and starts the soundtrack from that precise frame. It takes a maximum of 5 seconds, which is quite impressive. Occasionally, it might take eight seconds, but that's the process. If the match isn't perfect, as you mentioned, the viewing experience would be compromised.
“Our entire endeavor in developing this technology was to achieve a flawless match. The technology we've developed, and we've named it the way it is because it's our invention, is called Three-Dimensional Classified Frequency Indexing.”
What it does is index the entire soundtrack, which we host on the app, using 3D CFI. So, the entire soundtrack, whether it's two and a half hours or varies based on the movie length, is indexed. This means that whenever you enter the theater, whether it's 5, 10, or 15 minutes into the movie, and you hit the play button, it matches seamlessly with the scene running on the screen.
4) Is Cinedubs a paid or a free platform for its users?
We are currently in customer acquisition mode, focused on acquiring clients. As of now, we are not charging anybody; our services are free. However, we plan to start charging sometime next year.
Until then, users can enjoy watching as many movies as they want without any cost. When we do implement charges, they will be minimal. For instance, it might be around 15 to 20 rupees (Indian Currency) per movie. Even if you are used to buying a 300 rupee movie ticket, you won't hesitate to pay 15 to 20 rupees.
We may also consider other options, such as a 200 rupee annual fee for unlimited movies or a 100 rupee fee for a bundle of five movies. We haven't finalized these details yet, but the plan is to commence charging next year. This year and possibly the first quarter of next year will remain free of charge.
5) Considering Cinedubs is an Indian company and Hindi is the most prominent language. Where does Cinedubs come into this picture?
Now, let's delve into a use case. Consider a scenario where a movie is dubbed in multiple languages. Let's take the example of 'RRR,' a globally talked-about movie. This movie was dubbed in five languages—Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam.
When it was released, the Tamil version was for Tamil Nadu, the Kannada version for Karnataka, the Malayalam version for Kerala, and Telugu for Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana area.
The rest of the cities got the Hindi version. However, today, Tamilians, for example, are not only living in Tamil Nadu; they are spread across cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Gujarat, Kolkata, and so on. The same is true for Kannadigans, Malayali-speaking people, and Telugu-speaking people. In fact, worldwide, RRR was released in four languages in India, but globally it was only released in Telugu because Telugu was its main language.
Now, think about the Hindi-speaking, Malayalam-speaking, Kannada-speaking, and other language-speaking people worldwide. This forms our user base—those who are not residing in their home cities. This is a global phenomenon.
Even Hollywood movies, dubbed in more than 30 languages, are released in India in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, and English. In China, they are released in Mandarin and Cantonese, in Russia in Russian, and in European countries in various languages. However, what about the French-speaking individuals living in China or the U.S.? Today, cities are global; people travel for work, business, or education, and they are not confined to their home cities or countries. These are our customers.
“People prefer entertainment in their personal language, and this is a universal sentiment.”
Entertainment is a personal experience, and many dislike watching movies with subtitles. I, for one, cannot watch a movie with subtitles. I need to watch a movie in my language, be it Hindi or English, as I cannot comprehend any other language.
6) Do you think adopting Cinedubs would be better and cost-effective in contrast to traditional dubbing done by the producers?
Absolutely, nowadays, it's common for movies to be released in multiple languages simultaneously. Take, for instance, the movie '800,' which is about Muthaiya Muralitharan's life. It's set to release tomorrow in three languages: Tamil, Hindi, and Telugu.
Another example is the movie 'Tiger Nageswara Rao,' scheduled for release on October 29th in Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, and Malayalam. Additionally, there's the movie 'Ganpath,' also releasing on October 29th, featuring Tiger Shroff, Kriti Sanon, and Amitabh Bachchan. Although it's a Bollywood movie, it's releasing in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada on the same day.
Even though these movies release on the same day, the distribution is language-specific. For instance, the Hindi version will primarily be released in India, excluding Tamil Nadu. Tamil will be prominent in Tamil Nadu, Malayalam in Kerala, Kannada in Karnataka, and Telugu in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. That's the distribution strategy employed in the industry.
7) What is the kind of user experience Cinedubs provides as per you?
Oh, you can go online and see what the users have to say. In fact, I have a slide that I can show you, illustrating how users are providing feedback. I did check online, and we have some really good reviews.
I'm curious to know from your perspective: what do you think about the kind of user experience that Cinedubs provides?
Actually, you know how I gauge that customers are happy? It's because I receive calls from customers. My number is listed on the website, so people call me to inquire whether a specific movie is available on Cinedubss or not.
I've received numerous calls from Canada regarding a movie called 'Leo.' I'm already getting messages and emails from Canadian customers who want to watch the movie in their language in Canada.
I'm not sure how we reached Canada; we haven't done international marketing yet, but we have downloads in Canada, the US, Australia, Germany, and the Middle East. I receive messages and emails from users in these regions, as they want to check whether a particular movie is available on Cinedubs because they want to use it and watch the movie.
We had a show at PVR, where we invited around 300 guests, and did not have a single dissatisfied customer. They were all amazed and able to enjoy the movie in their language. They were all very happy. When we were sure that customers are genuinely enjoying it, we started going for more significant movies and expanding our reach.
8) How has your past experiences been in different sectors? Also, how has that experience shaped your idea for Cinedubs?
I'm a learner, having ventured into various industries, starting from aviation to BPO, banking, healthcare, and eventually, the solar sector.
“For me, every new challenge brings excitement, especially when I have to learn a new product and figure out how to sell it to customers, primarily producers at the moment. This learning experience is what keeps me motivated and running.”
My key takeaways from introducing this product to the market have been varied. Each market is different; Bollywood has its nuances, Tamil Nadu operates differently, Hyderabad has its unique aspects, Karnataka presents another set of challenges, and Kochi, being Malayalam-speaking, is a completely different landscape.
Meeting diverse people, sharing information about the product, and attempting to convert them into potential users have been crucial aspects of my learning journey. I've traveled extensively across India for this purpose. Surprisingly, Chennai, which I had never visited before, became a destination due to Cinedubs. It's been a great experience meeting new people, trying to secure appointments, and getting those 10-15 minutes needed to sell the product.
Now, we are expanding internationally, trying our luck in Hollywood. Once Hollywood movies start coming in, our reach will extend globally. Thank you for the good wishes!
9) What are the things lined up for Cinedubs and how do you see it excelling?
I believe our roadmap is very clear. After covering all Indian languages, we plan to expand into international languages, starting with Hollywood. The goal is to acquire Hollywood movies for the Indian audience and later for a global audience. Interestingly, some Indian producers are also interested in dubbing movies into international languages like Spanish and Arabic, and we are in discussions with them.
In fact, we've already launched one movie in Spanish without initially planning it. Surprisingly, we had 250 downloads for that movie. The soundtrack was provided by the producer along with five other languages, and we hosted it.
Now, we're witnessing more interest from Bollywood and Indian producers who want to dub their movies in international languages. This is where we come into the picture, making it easier for them. They won't need to focus on releasing the movie in that language; we will cater to the local audience, allowing them to release in their main language.
Looking ahead, our focus is on capturing the global market, including China. The next two to three years will be dedicated to expansion, and that's our complete focus currently.
10) Considering Mr. R Madhvan is now the president of FTII and the brand ambassador for Cinedubss, is it going to bring new tech changes in this industry?
I see, FTII primarily focuses on training people in filmmaking and acting. I haven't spoken to Mr. R Madhavan yet as he's been traveling, but I plan to meet him when he returns to India in November.
“From my observation, there haven't been many tech inventions originating from India in the film industry. We are the first ones to have invented something significant. When it comes to the film industry, whether it's 3D or Dolby, these technologies are international and have been adopted by Indian filmmakers.”
However, India itself has not yet pioneered any inventions. We are proud to be the first Indian company to have invented something for the film industry with global applications.
11) Is Cinedubs planning to tie up with OTT platforms or do you see them as competition?
They are not our competition, and we don't need to tie up with them. I'll tell you why. On OTT platforms, you already have the option to choose the language you want to watch a movie in.
For instance, if my friend from South India and I want to watch a particular movie at home, and he prefers Tamil while I prefer Hindi, that's a specific use case, but it's a very small number. Over 90% of consumption on OTT platforms happens through a mobile phone at home. However, those mobile users are not our customers. Our customers are the ones who want to go to the theater and experience the joy of watching a movie on the big screen.
After the lockdown, there were speculations that theaters wouldn't work, and people are comfortable with OTT. The idea was that they don't have to go out to a theater and spend 500 rupees on popcorn and Pepsi. However, the success of recent movies like 'Pathan' and 'Jawan' has brought the audience back to the theaters. It's evident that if the content is good, people will still go to the theater.
To further conclude, neither OTT platforms are our competition, nor can we tie up with them to assist in any way. Our user base primarily consists of those who still enjoy watching movies on the big screen in a cinema.
12) How do you think Cinedubs will be improving the cinema experience in the theater?
Yeah, as you mentioned earlier, it used to be a routine for families to go out at least once a month, watch a movie, have dinner outside, and take a break from their regular schedules.
I believe some families still cherish that tradition. The best way to watch a movie will always be in a theater; it will never be on a small screen or even a big screen at home, as not everyone has a 7.1 audio system. I think cinema theaters will last much longer, and as long as they are around, we will always be in business.
Regarding your research on Cinedubs and its competitors, it's interesting that you couldn't find any.
“The uniqueness stems from the fact that it's an invention. While we aren't the first to attempt it, there were multiple companies before us that tried but were unsuccessful and have since shut down.”
They might have used different methods to sync, but the key aspect of our invention is the exact frame match.
Even a one-frame mismatch can be disruptive, especially in a theater with loud surround sound. Despite its seeming simplicity, it took us four years to perfect the syncing process. Our focus was on ensuring a perfect match so that the audience enjoys the movie without any hindrance.
This attention to detail is what sets us apart, and the positive feedback from users reflects this. People from places like Singapore and Malaysia, where multiple languages are spoken, have downloaded our app to watch movies in their preferred language, showcasing the global appeal of Cinedubs.
Want to follow the journey of Cinedubs via Aditya Kashyap, here’s his LinkedIn. To read our previous MobileAppDaily interviews, click on the link provided. To stay updated about our recent interviews, subscribe to our newsletter.
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