“My vision is to disrupt the Indian film industry by introducing an institutionalised finance structure for film and entertainment content,” Abhayanand Singh, Group CEO of Vistas Media Capital (VMC), told Connected to India.
One of the biggest proponents of modernising financing methods for the media and entertainment sector, Abhayanand has an amalgam of expertise through his career in finance and his boyhood passion for films through which he looks to shape content financing structures.
As a child, Abhayanand's favourite pastime was watching movies in his father’s cinema hall in Bihar, India. According to him, this cultivated his lifelong passion for films and the entertainment industry.
His love for the entertainment industry led to him teaming up with Piiyush Singh to start a video on-demand (VOD) and over-the-top (OTT) platform Muvizz.com in 2014 to promote cult, classic and independent films to cinema lovers all over the world.
Through Golden Ratio Films, a film and production house operated by Vistas Media Capital, they produced an array of movies and web content from different genres, with Hollywood and Bollywood titles including 'The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir' (2018) and 'Nakkash' (2019) in their portfolio.
The banker-turned-mediapreneur found that while Hollywood has a robust financing structure, Indian film financing is much less institutionalised. Abhayanand and Vistas Media have served as the bridge between content creators and financiers across India, Singapore and South Asia.
“Over the years, I have learnt to rely on my business instincts, film financing strategies and production experience before committing to funding a film,” Abhayanand said, on being asked how he chose which projects to back.
Since 2017, VMC has been organising the Singapore South Asian International Film Festival (SG.SAIFF) and the South Asian Film Market (SAFM) annually, which have been very successful and well-received in the city-state.
Branching out, the Singapore-based media investment holding company recently announced its expansion plans across the media and entertainment sectors and investment management initiative in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
Vistas Media is set to play a key role in supporting the creation of a media ecosystem in the MENA region by investing in production infrastructure and supporting content creation.
“We recognise the growth potential of this region, which is why we set up Vistas International DMCC in Dubai. The purpose of setting up the DMCC entity was to help us access the full market potential of the MENA region, with UAE serving as the hub to expand VMC’s businesses and reach to other parts of the region,” Abhayanand said.
The MENA entertainment market has seen a rising demand for quality content, be it audio, video, or gaming content. Abhayanand and Vistas Media also wish to tap into a vast well of untapped potential for content generation in the region and showcase its entertainment offerings on a global stage.
“We want to work with local artists and content creators to help them create engaging and insightful local content through providing and facilitating pre-filming, production and post-production services for Arabic, Bollywood (along with other Indian regional languages) and Hollywood films in Abu Dhabi,” Abhayanand said.
“Our intention is to foster greater appreciation of Middle Eastern as well as South Asian cinema and present a unique opportunity for cultural exchange between two key regions,” he added.
The company is set to launch its first large-scale event, the Abu Dhabi Media Fest in the first quarter of 2022. The nine-day mega event will feature an international film festival, a film market, masterclasses and workshops, gala music concerts and film awards night showcasing MENA and South Asian films.
Another aspect of the expansion plan is to support local content creators and artists to create content which can be exported to the world. Vistas Media also plans to provide finance in the content space across films, web series, music in India and the MENA region.
As part of their strategy, Vistas Media Acquisition Company Inc, the publicly traded special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) arm of the enterprise, entered into a definitive merger agreement with music streaming platform Anghami, making it the first Arab technology company to be listed on Nasdaq New York.
“With regards to Anghami, we have plans to help the music streaming platform scale its user base and invest in cutting-edge technology to expand its offerings to an Arabic speaking population of over 450 million globally,” the VMC Group CEO added.
They are launching a USD 150 million multi-strategy investment fund to provide content specialty financing within the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM).
“We believe we have the right expertise building various media and entertainment verticals across India and Singapore, and now within the MENA region, without compromising the integrity and vision of the content creators we work with,” Abhayanand said, signing off.