Journalist and Creative Producer Smriti Kiran has been promoted to the position of Artistic Director at Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) on Saturday. Kiran who has two decades of experience in film and television industry is working with MAMI for the past four years as the creative director. The MAMI statement claims, “She is widely known as an indefatigable tour de force under whose tutelage, the festival was rejuvenated and transformed into a cutting-edge, holistic Academy that bridges many gaps in the Indian film landscape with its robust year round programme and industry imprint.”

Kiran, who wrote the screenplay book of the record-breaking film 3 Idiots and produced the screenplay books of Actor Guru Dutt, spoke to SheThePeople.TV about MAMI and said, “We are an evolving piece. The growth is rapid right now because we inherited a broken ship. There was too much to change and improve therefore the strides are rapid and noticeable with every step that is taken.”

“The challenge is to maintain this momentum in a fast altering ecosystem and limited resources. Having said that, one of the prime focus areas over the next two years for us will be the industry. I feel a sense of community is missing. I feel MAMI as an academy needs to become the glue that binds the industry together.” she added. She has created flagship properties like Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai, Night Out, Picture This, The Front Row and Film Companion.

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Speaking about the appointment, Deepika Padukone, the Chairperson of the Academy said in the statement, “Smriti has been the soul and backbone of MAMI. She has been instrumental in rethinking the role of MAMI as an institution in the context of Indian cinema and has worked tirelessly to create verticals that will keep MAMI at the forefront of a rapidly evolving cultural landscape. In her new role as Artistic Director, we are confident Smriti will open up new and exciting avenues for the Academy.”

On her view on the feminist factor improving in Indian cinema, she said that both in terms of on and off-screen, consistent constructive resolute breaking down of conditioning will help. “The conditioning runs too deep. Men and women both are victims of it. The only way to change this is to work towards it. Accepting status quo saying things like “this is the way it works” “if we question everything then nothing will pass the feminist barometer” are some of the most harmful ways of looking at our state of affairs. We need empathy. We have had apathy for way too long.”

Kiran is an advocate of inclusion and diversity in the various roles of film industry and so her personal goal will also be to champion it in her workspace. “I feel strongly about inclusion, diversity, freedom, fairness, opportunity and discovery. These would always be on top of my agenda. My approach towards the Academy and the festival is that of social service. I feel we are here to serve cinema by facilitating, championing and creating opportunities. I want to build effective and just systems and enable and mentor new talent while bridging gaps between professionals.”

The conditioning runs too deep. Men and women both are victims of it. The only way to change this is to work towards it. Accepting status quo saying things like “this is the way it works” “if we question everything then nothing will pass the feminist barometer” are some of the most harmful ways of looking at our state of affairs.

Talking about the current status of diversity in off-camera roles for women in the industry, she added, “I don’t know how much it has changed but I can only say that women seem to have more agency today. There is a mindfulness that has come in that was not there before.”

She added, “Inclusion is not an instead of situation. It is about levelling the playing field to make it a fair and just situation for everyone. How can we talk about merit and ability when the circumstances are unequal? This is an arduous journey. But it is a journey worth traversing because there were women who fought before us to get us to this point. We cannot disappoint the future generations and the generation that is working in film and television right now.”

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