Indium nitride films have been grown using modified activated reactive evaporation (MARE). The films were grown on glass and silicon substrates at room temperatures, i.e. without any intentional substrate heating. In this technique, the substrates were kept on the cathode instead of the grounded electrode and hence subjected to low energy nitrogen ion bombardment leading to highly c-axis oriented films. The photoluminescence (PL) and Raman spectrum shows significant improvement in the quality of the films compared with conventional activated reactive evaporation. The band gap measured from the room temperature PL was found to be 1.9 eV. Very high growth rates can be achieved in the MARE growth technique. The modification in the activated reactive evaporation technique may have a large impact on the growth of various compounds such as metal oxides. © 2008 IOP Publishing Ltd.