The collective is an endeavour to create a safe space for women from the Indian media and entertainment industry to discuss their experiences, challenges and successes.
Prime Video has released the latest session of Maitri: Female First Collective, hosting its maiden discussion in Chennai. Launched last year, the collective is an endeavour to create a safe space where women from the Indian media and entertainment industry can come together to discuss their experiences, challenges and successes, and offer their perspective on bringing about a positive shift.
The session featured 8 eminent women from India’s various entertainment industries, ranging from award-winning prolific actors who have worked across languages like Malavika Mohanan, Aishwarya Rajesh and Madhoo, to women who have left an indelible mark behind the camera, like creator, writer, showrunner & producer Reshma Ghatala, writer & director Swathi Raghuraaman, and cinematographer Yamini Yagnamurthy, in addition to Aparna Purohit, creator – Maitri & head of India Originals, Prime Video, and Smriti Kiran, creator and curator of Maitri & founder, Polka Dots LightBox.
Sharing personal anecdotes, the participants discussed the existing gender dynamics in the film industry, the challenges faced by female professionals, including stereotyping, colourism, ageism, and much more. Surprisingly, the women noted how the issues were similar irrespective of whether they worked in front of the camera or behind it, or whether they worked in production or corporate roles. The core discussion also touched upon the true essence of feminism and empowerment, what gender-equality really means for the trailblazers gathered in the room. An interesting insight that was shared by all was that true equality can be achieved when the industry stops tagging a particular role, a narrative or a job as woman-oriented or male-oriented. The group as a whole agreed that age-old conditioning often restricts the personal and professional growth potential of women, and can be changed only if it is internalized in one’s home and social environment.
The interaction also highlighted the critical role that streaming was playing in improving female representation, creating new opportunities for actors, regardless of their age, body size, or skin colour, and for creators to tell all kinds of unique stories.
“Equitable representation opens up a new world for young girls to draw inspiration from, making it all the more important to have women in positions of influence, where they can provide a platform for newer voices and open up doors for more women,” said Aparna Purohit, creator – Maitri & head of India Originals, Prime Video. “However, we know that change is a gradual process. It is, therefore, important for us to continue having these discussions across the country, and we are thrilled to have hosted our first session in Chennai. Even though it is only a year old, Maitri has managed to drive change in the right direction. It is heartening to see people having a conversation about diversity, equity and inclusion when writing or planning their projects.”
Speaking about the need to have such conversations frequently, Smriti Kiran, creator & curator of Maitri and founder, Polka Dots LightBox said, “There is an undeniable need for spaces where women can voice their stories without any fear. Creating an environment that allows women to share their experiences without judgement is the first step in enabling any change, whether it is in the industry or society. This is precisely why we have to keep the conversation going relentlessly. Thrilled that Maitri is in Chennai today, tomorrow it will be in another part of India. We will continue to connect women across sections and states through conversation and collaboration.”