When Kishore Samtani was a young boy living in Mumbai, the world’s most prolific centre for film production, the influence of Bollywood was all around him. The creative energy of the industry excited Samtani, and the magic of theatre and the possibilities of the worlds that could be created would inspire him as an adult to launch a new project to bring his beloved Bollywood into the Web3 era.
In March, Samtani launched Bollyverse, a one-stop source of entertainment for all Bollywood lovers in the metaverse, meeting a need in the space he felt was unfulfilled. “Indian representation is important. Now, everyone will get to experience the richness of Indian culture in the metaverse,” he says from New York in July, where he was attending NFT NYC, a Web3 symposium. In the Bollyverse, users can attend movie award shows and concerts from the comfort of their own homes, play virtual reality games with stars, buy from India’s biggest designer brands, and experience the glitzy world of Bollywood by interacting with celebrity avatars.
The idea has taken off. In June, Samtani flew to Abu Dhabi for the International Indian Film Academy Awards, for which Bollyverse was the official metaverse partner. His team captured content from the stage rehearsals, red carpet arrivals, award ceremony, backstage and after party. Using an avatar studio and 3D motion tracking, Bollyverse incorporated every angle of the event to create an interactive live performance experience that will eventually be available on the Bollyverse platform.
Samtani’s latest venture leverages his connections within the Indian film industry, achievements in business and prominent status within Hong Kong’s Indian community. After moving to the city in 1989, Samtani became a consumer goods entrepreneur, founding TV Products HK, a manufacturer and global distribution firm for products from hair straighteners to hoodie blankets and toys for children, now staffed by a team of 140 across Hong Kong and mainland China. While making his name within commerce, Samtani retained his love for Bollywood and passion for promoting his home country’s culture and heritage. Since 2003, he has brought Bollywood stars to Hong Kong as part of touring stage versions of hit films, including Diwali Dreams, Chandni Chowk to China and Da-bangg.