‘Nothing less than a creative renaissance’: Amazon Prime’s Aparna Purohit on Covid-triggered OTT boom


Who does not like a gripping web series at the click of a button and having FOMO (fear of missing out) kick in when you are not watching it? While the over-the-top (OTT) boom in India due to the Coronavirus pandemic may translate into great content for viewers, it is nothing short of a ‘creative renaissance’ for the Indian film and entertainment fraternity. Head of India Originals at Amazon Prime Video, Aparna Purohit, speaking at the 19th edition of the India Today Conclave 2021, said that she believes that the world of OTT has truly expanded the gamut of stories for the Indian audiences.
“I really believe that this is the most incredible time for actors and creators. What we are witnessing today is nothing less than a creative renaissance,” Purohit said on the changing times for the film and entertainment industry in India. She also mentioned that more than 60 per cent actors in the recent Amazon India originals —Jaideep Ahlawat in Pataal Lok, Pankaj Tripathi in Mirzapur, Richa Chaddha in Inside Edge and Shreya Chaudhary and Ritwik Bhowmik in Bandish Bandits — were those who did not get their due before. Purohit specifically highlighted the opportunity that a web series can provide for character development.

“A lot of actors from theatre and film schools have received a good platform to showcase their art thanks to OTT,” the Gangs of Wasseypur and Mirzapur actor Pankaj Tripathi pointed out on the increasing opportunities for actors and creators due to the rise of OTT in India.  
Richa Chadha, known for her performance as Zarina Malik in Inside Edge, added that there is a lot of time invested in character development in web series, such as in Inside Edge, and this is exactly why she said yes to the project. Chadha further mentioned that there was need for “intelligent Indian content in Indian languages” as many youngsters find daily soaps on television unrelateable.
While we applaud actors and creators for creating compelling web series like Mirzapur, Panchayat, Pataal Lok, Made in Heaven, Bandish Bandits, and Inside Edge, what really goes on behind selecting these shows? Purohit believes that India is a land of storytellers and there is, in reality, a problem of plenty, with way too many stories waiting to be told.
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“What I really look for when somebody pitches me an idea is what is so compelling about this story, what is so differentiating about this story, why this story must be told and why must this story be told now. That’s the first thing and the second thing is how passionate is the creator, is it the story that is keeping him up at nights,” she said on her ‘secret sauce’ while selecting content for Amazon Prime Video.
She argued that every decision taken at Amazon India is customer backwards and is focused on the genres that are not explored and dabbled with as much while adding that authenticity and sensitivity is extremely important for a show to get past her lens.  
Another factor that Amazon India considers while rejecting or selecting a show is that how many shows or movies in the same genre the platform has. Purohit also told the creators to not get disheartened and said, “Maybe [it is] a no for this story, but not you, not your mind, and not your passion.”

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