In January this year, Amazon signed as many as 14 Indian stand-up comedians to exclusively stream their specials.
None of them were women. Not even one.
When senior journalist Anupama Chopra posed this question to a bunch of comics she was interviewing for Film Companion, they said it was largely because the deal was between Amazon and their managers Only Much Louder (OML).
OML manages a number of comedians, including Mallika Dua, Sumukhi Suresh, and Kaneez Surkha, but for various reasons (one being that Mallika and Kaneez aren't stand-up comedians but excel in other forms like sketch comedy/improv) they weren't part of the Amazon deal.
(In a Facebook post, Mallika later pointed out that Sumukhi wasn't ready with her 1-hour special for Amazon as she was busy with a film commitment).
Earlier today, Amazon's arch-rival, Netflix, announced that it has signed Aditi Mittal, one of the country's most-popular female comedians, for a stand-up special.
In a statement released by Netflix, Mittal was quoted as saying, "Having a platform like Netflix is a dream come true for anyone in entertainment and comedy today. Even while I give this quote for the press release I have to pinch myself to confirm that this is real. The journey of this show has been absolutely exhilarating. I hope Netflix fans all over the world will enjoy the show as much as I have in making it."
The show, titled Things They Wouldn't Let Me Say will debut on Netflix on 18 July to the company's 100 million members that span 190 countries.
Although the stand-up comedy scene in India remains notoriously dominated by male comics, a stand-up special on an international platform by a female comic is definitely a good sign in the right direction.
We shouldn't be celebrating just yet (as it's only 1 comedian versus Amazon's 14) but this move will certainly encourage other female talents in comedy. Head here to read about other popular female comics in the country.
In an interview withThe Quint, Mittal, when asked if she sees her special as a way to combat sexism in comedy, said, "It's not a my-dick-is-bigger-than-yours kinda thing at all. I've got an opportunity to do something and this is like a dream come true, to be honest. A lot of thought has gone into the way Netflix is presenting it, the way they're packaging it, they've been awesome about it.
Earlier in May, Vir Das became the first Indian comedian to have his own special on Netflix.
UPDATE: This article has been updated to mention the names of some of the female comedians that OML manages, as was pointed out by Mallika Dua. The previous version erroneously stated that OML has no female comedians on its roster. We regret the error.
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