Prime Video Releases a New Session of ‘Maitri: Female First Collective’: Startup

This may be the 21st century but any woman who has charted her own course can recount countless stories from her journey where the world was ready to box her into society-defined gender labels. Facing gender stereotypes and sexism is common for them. The odds stacked up against women in the entertainment industry are no less.

To highlight such challenges, experiences and successes of women while also finding a way forward through meaningful conversations, Prime Video had launched a one-of-a-kind initiative, ‘Maitri: Female First Collective’, and has now released a new session featuring 9 powerful women from the entertainment industry.

Smriti Kiran and Aparna Purohit
Smriti Kiran and Aparna Purohit

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.

The new session is a build-up to the challenges faced by women in the industry and the grit with which they transcend them. It takes a hard, uncompromising look on where women stand in terms of equality and inclusivity in the industry and what the future holds for them.

L-R: Elahe Hiptoola, Indhu V.S., Parvathy Thiruvothu, Rima Kallingal and Ratheena Plathottathil
L-R: Elahe Hiptoola, Indhu V.S., Parvathy Thiruvothu, Rima Kallingal and Ratheena Plathottathil

In a freewheeling conversation, participants narrate nuggets from their experiences — the gender barriers they overcame, and discuss how things have changed in the last few years.

The session depicts an effortless solidarity among the eminent personalities as they share their understandings of facing adversities and offer solutions. The forum acknowledges women’s contribution in the industry and emphasises on the need for a strong mindset to break free from gender trappings.

“With the new session of Maitri, we wanted to take stock of where we stand with respect to diversity, equity and inclusion, understand the challenges ahead, and collaborate to find the right solutions,” said Aparna Purohit, head of India originals, Prime Video. “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,” she added.

Smriti Kiran, creator and curator, Maitri 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.”

Actor, Producer & Performing Artist, Rima Kallingal avers, “To bring a notable change, it is important for women in the industry not to cave in, but stand strong. Also, I believe when one feels uncomfortable speaking out the truth, is a red flag that we need to deal with.”

The forum keeps its focus as the panellists come together to find ways towards greater female representation. “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,” points cinematographer Neha Parti Matiyani.

Filmmaker & cinematographer Shreya Dev Dube, who believes in creating a safe space where women do not fear being vulnerable, concurs, “I want to create a safe space where both men and women are allowed to be vulnerable, a space where people I am working with feel comfortable to talk to me, share their thoughts, be part of the whole creative process.”

Additionally, Prime Video has also launched a dedicated social community for Maitri for women in the entertainment industry to connect and collaborate on their successes and challenges, and offer perspective in bringing a transformative change. Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

Watch the episodic capsule of the latest session — now available on Maitri’s YouTube page.

Disclaimer: This article has been produced on behalf of Prime Video by HT Brand Studio.

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