We’re witnessing a creative renaissance today: Aparna Purohit of Amazon Prime Video


PTI, Oct 9, 2021, 4:44 PM IST

Aparna Purohit, head of originals at Amazon Prime Video, believes that the Indian entertainment industry is going through a ”creative renaissance” with OTT becoming a hub of opportunities for content creators and actors.

Purohit says web as a medium is ”liberating” as it gives space to the writers, showrunners and performers to evolve the characters. ”I believe that this is the most incredible time for actors and creators. What we’re witnessing today is nothing short of a creative renaissance. And this is not just an incredible time for actors and creators, but also audiences with the kind of stories that can be told. ”I really feel that it’s very liberating. This medium is very liberating. There is an opportunity for every character to have a journey, to have an arc. There’s nobody just sitting on the fence. In front of the camera behind and in front of the camera, there’s a kind of explosion that’s happening,” she said.

Purohit was speaking at a panel discussion with actors Pankaj Tripathi, Sanya Malhotra and Richa Chadha at the India Today Conclave 2021 here.

Tripathi, who has had his fair share of success with shows such as ”Mirzapur”, ”Sacred Games” and ”Criminal Justice”, said that OTT has allowed actors to explore their characters in depth which was earlier not possible in a fixed time limit of feature films.

”Due to the OTT, not just me but many actors, who came to this industry after just training, have got their space. Today, stories are told in over eight hours. ”Today, you don’t have to say everything in just two hours. We can go into the layers of a character. That’s something that was not possible in films,” he added.

One of the first actors from the Hindi film industry to crossover to the web space with Amazon series ”Inside Edge”, Chadha said she ventured into the OTT as she couldn’t relate to the ‘saas-bahu’ narrative that dominated the Indian television.

”When I said yes to this show, it was because there was a television, I could not relate to. There was good TV that my parents grew up watching, but there was nothing for me there. I couldn’t relate to ‘saas-bahu’, I couldn’t relate to ‘Naagin’. And I could not see anybody in my generation or in my group, watching those things either. The 34-year-old actor revealed that when she decided to take up ‘Inside Edge’, many people called it a demotion.

”I understood that there was a need for intelligent Indian content in Indian languages… But people from within the industry said it’s a demotion to web series. Today, all those people are doing web shows. ”So I don’t think it was an act of courage, I think it was simply just having a presence of mind or foresight,” Chadha said.

Malhotra had a slew of films releasing on OTT platforms, starting with ”Shakuntala Devi” on Amazon, she followed it up with ”Ludo” and ”Pagglait” on Netflix.

The 29-year-old actor said the coronavirus pandemic has brought a lot of change in the content watching experience.

”For me, the game changed completely in 2020 during the pandemic, when we all were at home. ‘Shakuntala Devi’ came on Amazon, ‘Ludo’ released on Netflix and then ‘Pagglait’ also released on Netflix.

”The kind of response we got for the films was extremely gratifying. It was a very special feeling, given the fact that as an actor, I was getting to entertain the audience. It was thrilling to see the kind of response we got because of OTT,” she said.

The actor believes the streaming platforms have given creators and artists a huge platform to experiment.

”It’s definitely the golden age for entertainment. There is creative freedom as an actor and a creator. Though I haven’t worked in a series, I know from other actors that when you work in web shows, you get a lot of time to invest in the character that you’re working on.” Decoding the philosophy behind Amazon’s content programming, Purohit said they focus on three key aspects — story, storyteller, and viewers.

”We get pitched a lot. When somebody comes in and pitches me an idea… I look at what is so compelling about this story? Why must this story be told? And why now? That’s the first thing and the second thing is how passionate is the creator? Is it the story that’s keeping him up at night? How invested is he in this story? ”At Amazon, every decision is really customer backward. There are a lot of stories that are waiting to be told, but what are the lead gaps that exist? What are the genres that are unaddressed? Those are the things we focus on.”

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