Amazon Prime Video & MAMI launch Maitri: Female First Collective

Amazon launches unique initiative, Maitri: Female First Collective. Photo: TBC Network.

Four days before International Women’s Day that falls on March 8, an initiative that fosters meaningful conversations and collaboration between women in entertainment, Maitri: Female First Collective, was launched by Amazon Prime Video.

Through quarterly sessions with women from different fields within the creative industry, Maitri: Female First Collective, will spark discussions on unblocking challenges and encourage learning from the participants’ experiences.

The episodic capsule of the first session, featuring 16 illustrious women from both behind and in front of the camera, went live today on Amazon Prime Video India’s YouTube channel, Mumbai Academy of Moving Images (MAMI)’s YouTube channel, as well as their respective social media platforms.

Amazon Prime Video has partnered with MAMI for this, and Maitri will serve as a safe space for women to share their aspirations and work towards unblocking challenges within the industry. The collective is an endeavor to help build a community for women from media and entertainment where they can come together on a quarterly basis to discuss their experiences, challenges and successes, and offer their perspective and advice on how to bring about a positive shift. Some of the highlights of the sessions will be available on Amazon Prime Video India’s YouTube channel, MAMI’s YouTube channel and their respective social media platforms.

The first episode went live on March 4. The participants include Amrita Pandey, CEO, Junglee Pictures & Times Studios Originals, Ayesha DeVitre Dhillon, screenwriter & hairstylist, Bhavani Iyer, screenwriter & author, Gayathri Pushkar, filmmaker, Jeeva, filmmaker, Juhi Chaturvedi, screenwriter, Kunjila Mascillamani, filmmaker, Mini Mathur, actor and TV host, Nupur Asthana, filmmaker, Richa Chadha, actor and producer, Rintu Thomas, filmmaker, Shweta Tripathi Sharma, actor and producer, Sumukhi Suresh, comedian, actor, writer, creator, founder, Motormouth, Tahira Kashyap Khurrana, filmmaker and author, Aparna Purohit, head of India Originals, Amazon Prime Video, and Smriti Kiran, artistic director of MAMI, who curated and moderated the discussion.

“At Amazon, we believe that diversity, equity and inclusion are not just needed, but are essential, and we are constantly trying to go beyond the intention to institutionalize processes and mechanisms to create an ecosystem that mirrors true diversity,” said Aparna Purohit. “Maitri means friendship or kinship, and the idea behind this initiative was to create a space for women to get together as friends, contemporaries and colleagues to collaborate, communicate and pave the way for others to follow.”

She added, “I believe that making an impactful change takes time, and can only happen when we begin to have a conversation regularly and repeatedly. I am glad that we have taken this small, yet significant step with the help of MAMI. It was incredible to sit at the same table as other strong women from the industry. I am certain that each one of us will be able to identify the learnings we had from the session and translate them into more actionable initiatives that make the industry a better place for other women.”

Smriti Kiran, Creator and Curator, Maitri, said, “I have immense faith in collaboration, community building and shared experience. I have consistently built platforms that bring creators together, encouraged a sense of community among diverse filmmaking cultures within India and also tapped into global talent. It was invigorating to bring the first room for Maitri: Female First Collective together. The idea behind Maitri is togetherness. It stands for unity and strength by building bridges that connect, enabling reaching out for help and empowering all of us to take ownership of the ambit of power we have, however small or big, to bring about change.”

She explained, “The conversation that will lead to sustained conversion will never stop at Maitri. This will be a 24/7 space that will keep growing and evolving. The work in front of us is enormous. Our effort is to start at the foundation, bring mindfulness of the very basics, address our own biases, and begin by making the industry a far more humane and equitable place to work. I am very grateful to Aparna Purohit and Amazon Prime Video for seeing value in this vision and giving Maitri the support that it needs to soar.”

In June last year, Amazon Studios had released the inclusion policy and playbook, which is being gradually rolled out across the organization. With Maitri, Amazon Prime Video, in association with India’s prestigious film academy, MAMI, aims to raise awareness of the pivotal role women play within the entertainment industry.

In any case, women-power has developed within the film space beyond measure. Not only are film journalists and (in movies) production designers majorly female of late, but as Amitabh Bachchan pointed out, the majority of on-ground assistants and associates in production are girls and women. Today, apart from writers and filmmakers, even cinematographers and other key personnel in a film crew are women.

A movement pioneered in Hindi cinema by illustrious names like choreographer Saroj Khan in the 1970s, filmmakers Sai Paranjpye and Aparna Sen in the 1980s and production designer Sharmistha Roy in the 1990s has now come to fruition.





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