Here's how an accountant grew from manufacturing theatre screen at home to reach PVR, Satyam cinemas, rakes Rs 17 Cr turnover
Yusuf A Galabhaiwala, a part-time accountant, started manufacturing movie screens in his house and later expanded to PVR and Satyam, and began exporting to Europe, the Middle East, and more. Today, Galalite rakes in Rs 17 crore turnover.
It is famously said, “allow your passion to become your purpose and it will one day become your profession.”
In the 1950s, Yusuf A Galabhaiwala was working as a part-time accountant. However, his love and passion for cinemas made him clung to the theatre screens. Not only did he love watching movies but, he was also fascinated by the manufacturing process of the screens.
In an interaction with SMBStory, Yusuf S Galabhaiwala, the third generation entrepreneur and Yusuf A's grandson says,
“My grandfather loved screens and connecting its spare parts. When something in the screen used to go wrong, he was the sought-for person to get it repaired.”
Yusuf S had a close friend Mr Sengupta, who was working with an American company, Westrex in Mumbai, that was into the manufacturing of cinema screens. Yusuf A says that one day, his grandfather went to meet Mr Sengupta in his office and out of nowhere, Sengupta asked him a question - Screen banayega? (Will you manufacture screens?) The question startled Yusuf’s grandfather, and in a spontaneous reaction, he said ‘yes’. And from here began the journey of Galalite.
From an accountant to a movie screen manufacturer
In 1959, when Mr Sengupta offered Yusuf A to manufacture screens, he couldn’t reject it as this was where his passion lay. However, he didn’t have any degree and knowhow about screen manufacturing. And, getting samples was not easy.
Mr Sengupta helped Yusuf A in getting a Westrex sample. Yusuf S says, his grandfather roamed around the streets of Mumbai to get the kind of fabric to make it into a screen.
“That time, the screens were made of cotton fabric but that was not very common. My grandfather roamed around Lamington road and outside various textile mills in Mumbai to get hold of that fabric. He even got what he wanted but, then came a challenge to buy in bulk. Having faith in fate, he purchased the fabric in bulk quantity by taking some money on credit.”
Yusuf A’s home was his first manufacturing facility, and he began manufacturing screens with the help of his wife and brothers along with two other workers.
With the combined effort and days of toil, the output was successful, and Yusuf A took the same screen to Westrex’s office to propose a deal. The American company liked his work and passion and placed the first Galalite screen in Metro cinemas (now known as INOX theatre). And, from then, Yusuf A was given a moniker, Galabhaiwala.
After the set up of the first screen, Yusuf A completely stepped into the business and rented out a small space for manufacturing. Taking lessons from around, he started innovation in the projection screens. Yusuf S says, in 10 years from 1959, they had installed a manual perforation machine that was useful to place speakers behind the screens. By 1979, they had installed about 3,500 screens all over India.
In 1984, 3D technology was introduced in India, and Galalite shared a role in that transformation. By 1989, Galalite installed a fully automated perforation machine to improve quality and increase output.
At present, Galalite has a 25,000 sqft manufacturing space in Lonavala and Poland, and the screens are priced between Rs 120 and Rs 1,200 per sqft.
Capturing 65 percent share in the Indian market
The company started with matte white screens and then slowly introduced new range of screens like digilite screens, prism 3D for 3D movie experience, mirage series, and lately announced mirage XDL 1.2, world’s lowest gain silver screen fit for RGB laser.
Galalite has captured 65 percent of the Indian projection screen market share with screens installed in multiplexes including PVR, Carnival, Satyam, Mirage, and more, mainly dominating the Chennai and Mumbai market. The company also has a manufacturing unit in Poland and exports to the Far East, Middle East, Europe, and more.
Today, Galalite clocks a turnover of Rs 17 crore a year.
Creating a comfortable movie ambience
Yusuf says, Galalite manufactures screens that are not harmful to the audience’s eyesight. The coating provides a non-toxic optical paint system that cares for the customer and is environment-friendly. The screens meet local fire regulations, as screens are the single biggest piece of furniture in a cinema theatre.
Talking about the competition in the industry, Yusuf says,
“India is home to about 10,00-12,000 cinemas, and the average lifespan of the screen is 10 years. Approximately 1,000-1,200 screens are replaced in a year, out of which 700-750 screens are installed by Galalite. Galalite is a trailblazer in cinema screen innovation and technology. Continuous improvement and transformation have differentiated us from the competition.”
Though there are various other projection screen manufacturers in the Indian market, Yusuf claims Galalite doesn’t face competition with them. He says, there is a British brand, Harkness which is giving a tough fight to Galalite in the global exports.
The way ahead
At present, Galalite is in the process of acquiring a new share of the market in Europe, CIS, America, and Russia, while simultaneously testing the limits of cinema industry with its path-breaking technology and expanding all over the world.
Yusuf S says, Samsung is coming up with its LED screens which are far more delicate to manufacture, and the company is in the process to work on the technology.
(Edited by Suman Singh)
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