If there is one place where India’s demographic dividend is observed in full flow, it is at a movie theatre. Of course, cricket comes very close. But unlike cricket, where the public mood is more or less one-sided and in favour of the Indian team, the movie business is full of vagaries. There is no
sure-fire cookie-cutter success formula, but since a super hit makes up for the duds, the entire industry relentlessly throws everything they have at the public. Indeed, if you think that those in the movie-making business revel at playing roulette, then the operators in the multiplex business certainly play Russian roulette. They incur huge fixed costs to exhibit something on whose making — or eventual outcome — they have no control whatsoever.

Given piracy, cable TV and DTH, the exhibition business was left for dead, or presumed to be on its last legs. While single screens have struggled amid the advent of malls, the multiplex business is thriving and has attracted the attention of a foreign player like Cinépolis. Even now, outside the trade, it is very likely that people are unaware that Cinépolis is a Mexican chain betting on the movie-viewing habits of Indians.

In the past, a visit to the mall entailed a mandatory visit to the in-house multiplex. But now, despite mall-ratting being passé, Cinépolis wants to pull in the crowds with the sheer quality of its infrastructure — and it is spending big money doing that. How Cinépolis is making movie-watching an experience in itself is the subject of this issue’s cover story by associate editor Krishna Gopalan.

Among other stories, we have a feature on how small finance banks are gearing up to play in the big league. Having got their licences, a handful of MFIs now want to transition into full service providers, here. If small finance banks are preoccupied with growth, corporate India is busy writing off assets, and without much explanation. For many CFOs, exceptional items were no longer the exception in FY15. You can get a taste of what is afoot here.