| 19 Jul 2024
Women shaping the narrative in Media and Entertainment - An intriguing panel by Amazon Prime Video and Screenwriters Association

MUMBAI: Amazon Prime Video recently organised Women shaping the narrative in Media and Entertainment in collaboration with Screenwriters Association. The event was held on the occasion of International Women’s Day and saw some noteworthy women like Bollywood actress Vidya Balan, Amazon Studios Head Jennifer Salke, Zoya Akhtar and others. The ladies talked about various topics like female representation, being a woman in man’s world, gender conversion, women stories etc.

Amazon Studios Head Jennifer Salke, who was speaking on female representation said, “The situation is changing every day. Again, it is about being intentional about looking at a full list of male and female directors when you’re making selections. I have a great example of just being in Sundance and we bought five movies there. I think four of those movies were directed by women but that was never a conversation. The more women are given a chance to tell stories, it creates momentum moving forward and you do see change.”

Actress Vidya Balan, who recently debuted as an RJ with BIG FM’s show, Dhun Badal Ke ToDekho spoke on various issues during the panel. Speaking about creating opportunities for women, she said, “I believe we need to create more opportunities. History has shown us that there aren’t too many examples because of a lack of opportunity. Therefore, if you open up opportunity only then we will know how many women are capable, talented and have a chance of making it and doing well. That slight push is essential and then of course your work will speak for itself. But you have to open up that window. The opportunities have to be made available. Of course it has to be merit based.”

Further sharing her views on having more female based stories, she said, “In the last ten years, I cannot even begin to tell you the range of subjects that have been offered to me with me at the center of the story. The canvass has opened up but there are lots of factors guiding this. Commercial viability is important. Over the decades we have had female centric films and we’ve had the success stories but they’ve been in fits and spurts. For this to continue, for this to not be a phase, we need for them to be commercially viable.

Balan also commented on how a women’s sexuality is always in the spotlight and the themes explored. She said,I tend to agree based on the content that’s out there and maybe that’s because it gives you a rush of freedom – whether it’s your body or your sexuality. We start there and then it probably moves inwards. The kind of conversations a show like Four More Shots Please as sparked – in my make-up van, we were talking about women masturbating and that’s just never happened before. I think it’s nice to be putting it out there. What it does is, it frees something in you. It will excite all kinds of viewers. And if sex, or a woman using her body brings you to the theatre I am happy because only then will you know her story. To get to the next layer, the body is the starting point.”

Lastly, she also spoke on the gender discussion being completely female. She said, “We have not had a voice for very long. We have only begun to express ourselves. So it’s not that this is not for men or not going to include men, because we want to express ourselves as much. And I am sure men are listening. And I am sure every man wants to listen to what we have to say. I hope every woman is also listening. Often we women are products of that conditioning that sexism, that’s deeply ingrained in us.”

Zoya Akhtar and others kept their points of women and their stories during the panel. With Amzon Prime bringing such ladies together for an intriguing discussion, we have more such panels and a step towards change!