Interview: AI can create extremely engaging conversations: Vaishali Sharma, Sony Max


Sony Max’s Vaishali Sharma takes us through the mechanism of newly launched AI chatbot ‘FilmyKaant’ and the need for such experimentation to boost engagement with the audiences.

All amazed when Ranbir Kapoor’s AR filter was released on Facebook Messenger for the users to try Sanju-style lip sync filters and post videos to win prizes; Movie Marketing in Bollywood has seen a huge evolution since past few years wherein the production houses set their eyes on every possible medium to promote the upcoming movies. TV Channels are not far behind with Sony Max leveraging the popular Artificial Intelligence made Chatbots to stay connected with audiences.

The channel has launched ‘Filmykaant’ – touted to be television world’s first-ever artificial intelligence (AI) Chat Bot in India. Developed with an advanced NLP (Natural language processing) technology with an in-built ability to read Hinglish (a mix of English and Hindi), Filmykaant will engage with nation-wide cinema lovers 24×7 in a bid to engage with viewers beyond their television screen

As Sony MAX forays into the world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) with Filmykaant, we get talking to Vaishali Sharma, Head – Marketing & Communications, Sony MAX Movies Cluster & Sony SAB to know more about the chatbot, Sony Max’s stratgey to integrate movie marketing on digital, AI and Cinema in India vis-a-vis globally and much more.


What was the rationale behind launching FilmyKaant? Why is it called FilmyKaant?

While SonyMAX follows a very strong social media presence, we wanted to create a new scale of innovation. Flmykaant’ was launched to bring to life the madness for films and transform it into tangible interface that connects the brand with its viewers.

Filmykant is one more attempt of the brand to bring out the essence of Deewana bana de.

The earliest and the most obvious benefit that any Chat Bot offers is engagement. Filmykaant is the first NLP (Natural Language Processing) based chat bot or the ‘first filmy chat friend’ that has been created by any of the broadcasters in India. It is one of the first of its kind that can support Hinglish as well. The idea was to make it as relatable to the viewer today. While brands have majorly looked at chat bots as a part of the conversational ecosystem, we feel that it will play an instrumental role in the times to come to create a personalized content experience for our viewers.

We have launched him on August 27. The bot will engage with Sony MAX audience on the FB messenger through interesting Trivia, Quiz and even latest filmy gossip and engage with users during key movie premieres.

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Why the need to experiment with chat bot at this point of time?

We realize that engaging with online users is the way forward. With Filmykant, we are being futuristic and driving engagement with our audience around latest topics, trends, etc.  As a technology, Chat bots have become one of the most emerging technologies of these times and today, AI can create extremely engaging conversations. The technology has enabled businesses to leverage inexpensive and wide reaching technology and continue to engage with increasingly more consumers.

What is the mechanism for the chat bot to work?

NLP is a technological process that allows computers to derive meaning from user text inputs. In doing so, it attempts to understand the intent of the input, rather than just the information about the intent itself. There are several different ways in which this function can be built. These vary, and can be chosen based on how you intend to implement and utilize NLP. For Filmykaant, the model used is for language identification. It will detect whether the user is talking in English or Hindi. Once the language is detected another model detects user’s intention. Filmykaant is bollywood’s first of a kind NLP based BOT that not only supports English, but also Hinglish. If the chatbot doesn’t understand the intention behind a message sent by the user or don’t know how to respond, it will respond with a default message that it didn’t understand and needs clarification. The idea is to train him as he converses.

How are you strategizing to promote the same?

The campaign and promotion is widely in the digital space. We are also looking at using like-minded platforms to attract the Bollywood crazy audience. The promotion plan cuts across 3 weeks for FB, Google display network and has been carefully chosen to tap the correct target audience of movie lovers.

How will Sony MAX integrate the AI in its marketing strategy on digital?

Going forward, Filmykaant will be customized to create engaging content around key television premieres.

How does Filmykaant differentiate himself?

Filmykaant is the one stop destination for every Bollywood lover. He ignites the Bollywood fan in you with his different content pegs such as Bollywood trivia, gossip etc and does it in a fun filmy and quirky way. Filmykaant personifies the personality of Sony MAX and makes him approachable to the audience with engaging content. Filmykaant’s Passion for Bollywood is contagious and it shows in everything he does and even in the way he speaks.

According to you, where does India lie in the journey of Artificial Intelligence when compared globally? Especially from the cinema industry point of view? Were there any learnings extracted from its global counterparts?

Chatbots, virtual personal assistants (VPAs ) are a part of the’ Assisted intelligence’and they already have made their way into the Indian consumers life.  Alexa, Siri, etc have set this trend and even though it is at a nascent stage, interestingly more and more brands have been adopting this technology as it provides efficient customer engagement. The technology will become more important as we move towards hyper-personalized communication, tailor made to every customer’s needs.