Show Time: 1018MB Helps You Watch Your Favourite Films On The Big Screen

1018mbIn 2014, fans of Andaz Apna Apna were excited by the news that the 1990s Hindi movie would be returning to cinemas to mark the twentieth anniversary of its release. Alas, the plan was scrapped. Thanks to 1018mb.com however, AAA aficionados in Mumbai had the opportunity to book seats to watch the comedy on the big screen this weekend. Tickets for the regular show are already sold out but luckily, a few remain for a special screening that will feature a Q&A session with the producers, a seat for which will set you back a pricey Rs1,000.

Co-founded by former banker Saurabh Devendra Singh and TV actress Saumya Tandon, the eight-month-old 1018mb is a movie on demand service, vintage cinema hall and film club rolled into one. The idea behind the website is to enable viewers to catch a picture on the big screen even long after it has left the theatres. In June, for instance, you can sign up to see Casablanca in Andheri, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro in Juhu, and cult Bollywood flick Om Dar-B-Dar in Worli.

And if the dates and times of those events are not suitable for you, then you can organise through 1018mb a screening of any one of those flicks at halls in 19 venues across the city, with which they’ve made arrangements to run shows. The seating capacities of the venues range from as little as 14 at the Pixel D preview theatre in Andheri to as large as 1,101 at New Excelsior in Fort. Here’s how it works: You chose a title from their ever-growing list of films (which currently stands at a little over 75), the theatre, the date and time and then get people to buy tickets by promoting your event on social media with 1018mb’s assistance.

While creating the event on the site, you will be shown the ticket price you will need to charge and how many tickets you need to sell for the screening to take place. The price, Singh told us, is determined by an in-built algorithm they’ve called the Tardis, which calculates it on the basis of factors such as the rent of the venue, the acquisition cost of the film, and last but not least, where you live. You’re asked to enter a pin code before you can pick a movie, and if you happen to be in a “rich cluster”, like say certain parts of south Mumbai, the rates are likely to be higher.

In case you can’t fill the minimum number of seats, the event is cancelled and those who’ve signed up are refunded their money. If you manage to bring more crowd than the minimum, then the show is a ‘hit’ and you get half the profits from the screening. Which is kind of getting your cake and eating it too, because 1018mb takes care of all the logistics. All you need to do is pull in friends and tap your social networks to put bums on seats; they take care of everything else.

Among their selection of films are Indian and international indie favourites such as Salaam Bombay! and The Big Lebowski and Hollywood and world cinema classics like Casablanca and The Seven Samurai. In India, they’ve managed to procure all of the National Film Development Corporation’s releases as well as some from Prakash Jha Productions and Vinod Chopra Films; abroad, they work with companies in the UK, the US and France to source titles. Recently, they got in touch with filmmakers in Japan after they learned that Mumbai has an anime club.

A user can request for a film to be added to their roster. However 1018mb is only permitted to screen movies that have been granted a censor certificate. They can however organise shows of unreleased works that have been passed by the censor board. For instance, in the last week of February they organised in collaboration with its producers a special release of Zubaan a week before the cinematic release. While that was a private event, 1018mb also conducts ‘special screenings’ (such as the Andaz Apna Apna presentation on Sunday) that are open to the public but which are priced at a premium on account of the additional expenses involved like the hospitality costs of hosting celebrities and special guests.

This week, 1018, which has conducted over 50 screenings since its launch in October 2015, has started accepting applications for a membership programme that will get those who enroll access to special events (including private screenings) and discounts on tickets. The abiding idea behind their enterprise, said Singh, is that “movies should not necessarily have a three-week cycle”, irrespective of whether it’s a small or big budget production. “If somebody wanted to watch Fan and missed it and he believes he can get 30 people we should make it happen,” said Singh who has set his sights on a film with a higher IMDB rating than the recent Shah Rukh Khan release – he’s been working on convincing director Kanti Shah to allow him to screen his 1998 revenge drama Gunda, which has acquired cult status over the years.

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