What is 'Maitri: Female First Collective'
The collective is an endeavour by Prime Video India to help build a community for women from media and entertainment where they can come together to discuss their experiences, challenges and successes, and offer their perspective and advice on how to bring about a positive shift. The purpose of the collective is to highlight challenges faced by women in the entertainment industry today and to unblock them through viable solutions.
Moderated by the creator and curator of Maitri, Smriti Kiran, the participants comprised Aparna Purohit, Creator – Maitri & Head of India Originals, Prime Video; Indhu VS, Writer & Director; Ratheena Plathottathil, Writer, Director & Producer; Elahe Hiptoola, Creator & Producer; Parvathy Thiruvothu, Actor & Director; Rima Kallingal, Actor, Producer & Performing Artist; Shreya Dev Dube, Filmmaker & Cinematographer and Neha Parti Matiyani, Cinematographer.
In order to spark conversations and foster meaningful collaborations, Prime Video also launched a social community for Maitri that will enable women in entertainment to share successes and work together towards unblocking challenges even more easily. Maitri’s social community can be accessed on Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube.
What they said
Each eminent woman brought their own unique perspective and expertise to address the current gender issues plaguing the industry. Here are some gems by the moderator and the participants of Maitri.
Creator and curator Smriti Kiran also had pearls of wisdom to share about Maitri. She said,
“Maitri is a space we all wanted but didn’t have. It has been created to connect women working across the vast and varied Indian film industry, have honest conversations about challenges we face, try and find solutions to those problems and build opportunities that lead to a seismic shift in representation. It is that first step one hopes will lead to giant leaps.”
Aparna Purohit, head of India originals, Prime Video, spoke about constructive changes already being seen in production meetings.
“We are very heartened by the encouragement and support we have received for Maitri: Female First Collective so far. While it is a gradual journey, I am happy to see some change already coming through. To hear things like ‘we have women writers in our writers’ rooms’, or ‘our women characters have agency’ and ‘our content will definitely pass the Bechdel test’, in conversations with creators, for me, is a major step in the right direction. At Prime Video, we remain deeply committed to DEI. As the next step, we want to strive to have at least 30% women HODs across all our productions.”
While there is increasing clarity on the future steps with respect to gender sensitization in writing rooms, Elahe Hiptoola, Creator & Producer, raised an equally vital point that female actors often negotiate on.
“I don’t bargain with any female actor I work with. When they come to the table to negotiate, they come on a backfoot, thinking they are getting this show, or the lead character, and they don’t want to lose it for money. But the show will sell because of them eventually, so no one is doing anyone a favor. I believe, you bring your strengths to the table, I bring mine. So, I never ever negotiate with female talent I work with.”
Neha Parti Matiyani, Cinematographer, reflected on her decades of experience of working as a cinematographer and the inherent misogyny she was exposed to.
“I feel the misogyny now after 15 years, more than when I started. At that time, it did not bother me so much. Then I felt that I had to prove myself. But now it is hitting me that I am stuck in a specific zone professionally where people in the industry feel that because I am a woman, I can only work on a certain kind of films, mostly romantic comedies, while I know I am capable of exploring a much wider palette of genres.
I have been working with an all-women crew and I give them freedom in terms of bringing in suggestions and being a part of the whole creative process.”
Parvathy Thiruvothu, Actor & Director, gives context to why a collective like Maitri is important in today’s day and age.
“Starting out in my teenage years, I faced a number of instances of bias, condescending personal comments, etc., that eat into your confidence. It took years of unlearning for me to get over that and that is why I feel Maitri is important. It's somewhere I can talk to people like me, and they will understand and share of their life lessons. I am working towards making sure that stories are not told from my, a woman’s perspective to the world.”
Prime Video is deeply committed towards promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) within its content and productions, as well as with its partners in the creative community. With Maitri: Female First Collective, Prime Video aims to raise awareness of the pivotal role women play within the entertainment industry.