Dr. Smith Mehta

Smith Mehta

Where are the women? Gendered Indian digital production culture post #metoo

I investigate the working condition of women in the online video industry, and assesses the impact of #metoo movement in the areas of women pay, parity, representation and safety. In doing so, I examine the efficacy of an internet-born movement in mediating not only the gender-based but also caste and class related inequalities arising from the abuse of sex and power. Using approaches from critical media industries studies (Havens, Lotz and Tinic, 2009) and feminist production cultures (Banks, 2009), I analyze key ‘above-the-line’ roles in Indian web-series between 2014-2020 and conduct semi-structured interviews with mostly women media practitioners to examine their perception of the opportunities and challenges of working in the online video industry. The prospect of exploring gender-based challenges on the internet—the preferred medium of expression for its ability to afford greater autonomy, opportunity and creativity—can offer a nuanced understanding on whether on-screen progressive women representations correspond to the off-screen production culture.

Main Research Topics

  • Indian media industries
  • production culture
  • streaming services
  • gender studies
  • creator labor

Curriculum Vitae

  • Mudra Institute of Communications (MICA), Ahmedabad: Senior Research Associate
  • Viacom18 digital platform (Voot): Producer, Content & Production team
  • Viacom 18 Motion Pictures: Associate Producer, Content Development team
  • Part of films (Mary Kom, Manjhi, Margharita with a Straw, Drishyam, Dharam Sankat mein etc) now on Netflix

Publications and Lectures

  • Mehta, S., & Kaye, D. B. V. (2021). Media Censorship: Obscuring Autocracy and Hindutva-ideology in Indian Governance. Communication, Culture and Critique.
  • Mehta, S. (2021). Indian intermediaries in new media: Mainstreaming the margins. Convergence, 27(1), 229–246. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354856519896167
  • Mehta, S. (2020). Television’s role in Indian new screen ecology. Media, Culture & Society, 42(7–8), 1226–1242. https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443719899804
  • Mehta, S. (2020). Localization, diversification and heterogeneity: Understanding the linguistic and cultural logics of Indian new media. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 23(1), 102–120. https://doi.org/10.1177/1367877919880304
  • Mehta, S. (2019). Precarity and New Media: Through the Lens of Indian Creators. International Journal of Communication13, 20. https://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/12577
  • Mehta, S. (2019). The perils of being a “woman”: Acute problems within Indian media ecology. Feminist Media Studies19(7), 1056-1060.
  • Mehta, S., & Kaye, D. B. V. (2019). Pushing the Next Level: Investigating Digital Content Creation in India. Television & New Media. https://doi.org/10.1177/1527476419861698
  • Cunningham, S., Mehta, S., Lunardi G., & Healy, G. (forthcoming). YouTube and the social media entertainment-television interface. In Johnson D., From Networks to Netflix. (2nd ed.) (Forthcoming)

Dr. Smith Mehta

Fellow am CAIS von Oktober 2021 bis März 2022