Indian streamers driving improved gender representation

ZEE5 original Nanna Koochi

Streaming services are driving improved gender representation in India both in front of and behind the camera, according to a new report.

The O Womaniya! 2022 study from media consulting firm, Ormax Media and entertainment platform, Film Companion, with support from Amazon Prime Video, was released today.

It highlights on-screen and off-screen representation of women, by analyzing 150 theatrical films, streaming films and series released in 2021 across eight Indian languages – Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Punjabi, Bengali and Gujarati.

Its key findings included that women have low representation behind-the-camera, with only 10% head of department positions across key divisions such as production design, writing, editing, direction and cinematography, held by women.

In media and entertainment corporate houses, only 10% of senior leadership roles were held by women, which the report said has a “cascading effect on inclusivity through the production and execution chain.”

The report found, however, that the percentage of female heads of department doubled when a woman greenlit a series or a film. Similarly, a higher percentage of films passed the Bechdel Test (68%) and women had higher trailer talk time (35%) if the title was commissioned by a woman.

Streaming films and series were identified in the report as a driver of positive change, with representation of female heads of department in streaming films and series being five times higher than theatrical films. Similarly, 64% of streaming series and 55% of streaming films passed the Bechdel Test, as opposed to more than half of theatrical films failing it.

Likewise, streaming films and series provided more talk time to female characters in trailers, leading theatrical films by 10 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

In a first, the report received collaboration from multiple entities within the Indian media and entertainment industry, including the Producers Guild of India and Active Telugu Film Producers Guild, streaming services like hoichoi, SonyLIV, Voot and ZEE5, along with film film studios like Clean Slate Filmz, Dharma Productions, Emmay Entertainment, Excel Entertainment, Purple Pebble Pictures, RSVP and Sikhya Entertainment.

Aparna Purohit, head of India originals at Prime Video, commented, “While there have been improvements in female representation in Indian entertainment, there hasn’t been any data-backed report in India that can hold a mirror up to the current reality. O Womaniya! 2022 fills the much-needed gap with its rich insights.

“The report serves as a good starting point to initiate discussions on the need to involve more women, particularly in decision-making roles, as that has a ripple effect on inclusivity in the entire ecosystem. Change has to be persistent and intentional, and we need to take constant steps to improve these numbers year after year.”

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