Ajay Bijli gifted me this popcorn machine on my birthday,” says Amit Burman pointing to a vending machine at the right corner of his 12-seater home cinema hall at Kautilya Marg in Delhi. Not many people would count on the country’s largest multiplex-chain owner to build their home theatre. But then this is Amit Burman, who has Ajay Bijli and Neeraj Kanwar of Apollo Tyres as his close buddies and who double up as movie buffs.
Bijli is also an investor, in his personal capacity, in the quick service restaurant and fine dining venture Lite Bite that Burman co-owns along with Rohit Aggarwal. Incidentally, Burman, too, is on the board of PVR. Burman’s venture owns restaurants such as Punjab Grill (JV), Subway (partnership), Fresc Co, Street Foods of India, Bakers Street, Asia 7, and Food Union of India (JV) among others.
The 46-year-old, who shifted to his new house five years ago, believes that setting up a movie theatre inside your house is the best way to spend time with family and friends. “The good things are you can serve your own food, have your own drinks, chill out… pause the movie when you want to. The flexibility that it offers is immense.”
When work keeps him busy for weeks, home theatre is Burman’s perfect escape from reality. “After a stressful week at work, I can come back home and just chill.”
A movie aficionado, Burman recollects catching up on Bollywood and James Bond movies during the VCR era with his parents. But building a cinema at home is certainly an expensive pursuit. “It all depends on the projector that ranges between ₹60 lakh and ₹5 crore. The seats cost ₹1.5 lakh a piece,” mentions Burman, without revealing the total cost that he incurred.
What also makes the theatre special is the technology at play. With just a tap on the iPad, Burman can beam movies playing on cable or DTH right onto the screen. The other advantage is the option to watch movies the very day that it hits the screen. Burman watched the recently-released SRK-Kajol flick Dilwale on the first day itself.
Making it possible is the facility that UFO Moviez provides to select clients. UFO is a company that distributes films digitally to cinema halls in India. “They upload all the released movies on my database and I pay for each movie that I choose to play,” explains Burman, who has more than 500 movies on his database.
He enjoys watching both western and Indian movies. In western — action, thrillers and James Bond-styled movies — are his favourites. Also, it is Bijli who helps him pick the right movies. Being on the board of PVR gives Burman the privilege of attending the director’s cut for most new releases.
Drawing inspiration from movies is something that comes easy for Burman. “I loved the Ranbir-Deepika starrer Tamasha as it gave the message that one should follow his own inner-calling. A lot of times, you get into that groove and are forced to do certain things against your natural ability. From that point of view, I have done my own thing,” he opines, clearly identifying with the movie’s central theme.
Apart from taking inspiration from movies, Burman also loves to hit the equally big gym in his house. “I need to sweat it out in the gym — cardio and weight training — for at least an hour,” says Burman, who quit playing golf seven years ago, as it was taking a lot of time.
For someone who has the flexibility of following his pursuits at home, Burman ensures that his work schedule meets the same. “I start my day at 7.30 am, drop my daughter to school and then reach my office at Gurgaon at 8.05 am. I am back home by 4:30 pm,” says Burman.
At home, he occasionally ends up hosting friends of his children. “Now that my kids also love movies, the theatre is a good way to hang out together and connect with their friends,” he smiles. Burman clearly wants his passion to rub off on his children too.