Actor, theatre artist, television and film actor and director of the latest Marathi movie, Mai Ghat, which was screened online at the Indian Pavilion of Festival de Cannes said his long standing dream was to direct a cinema in his native tongue, Malayalam.
Speaking to The Indian News on the occasion of his film being screened at the Cannes, Mahadevan said: “It’s my long standing dream to direct a film in my native tongue of Malayalam (Ananth hails from Thrissur District of Kerala). I could have made this Marathi movie, Mai Ghat in Malayalam. As I am based in Mumbai, making this movie in Marathi made sense as Marathi is a comfort zone to launch the cinema at a month’s notice, which is just not possible, if I am to visit Kerala and rope in an investor.”
Mai Ghat Crime No: 103/2005, produced by Mohini Ramachandra Gupta, written by English poet, Oxford scholar and former Editor of the Times of India, C.P. Surendran, and directed by the Director of Marathi film, Mee Sindhutai Sapkal, has bagged several awards including Winner – Best Film, Best Editing, Best Cinematography – of the Singapore South Asian International Festival 2019, Official Selection in the Competition of Acia Pacific Screen Awards 2019, in addition to the Official Selection in the Indian Panorama of International Festival of India 2019. With the National Award winning Usha Jadhav in the lead, other actors in Mai Ghat includes Suhasini Mullay, Kamlesh Sawant and more.
While expressing his joy at the official selection of Mai Ghat at the Marche’ Du Film at Cannes, Mahadevan said: “After winning accolades from destinations such as Singapore, New York, IFFI Goa, Kolkata, Kerala and Bangalore, the nomination to the Cannes by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, I am very happy about it as it is prestigious that both selectors and the festival are of paramount importance. Having said that, to have Mai Ghat selected from a score of choices in indeed quite a rewarding experience.”
Based on a real life account of a Malayalee woman named Prabavati Amma, who had to undergo the ordeal of fighting the case of her deceased son in police custody to prove his innocence and how her case was later vindicated constitute the story of this Marathi movie.
Speaking about the ghastly incident, Mahadevan said that police brutality is linked to a range of reasons such as economic imbalance, caste differences or, for that matter, plain display of power. And it is universal. A case in point is the recent killing of a black man in the US, Geroge Floyd by a cop is nothing but the Prabhavaati Amma case in another setting. What is more, the uproar across the globe has made Mai Ghat all the more potent and topical. Therefore, our film is just a tribute to the courage of a mother for exposing the disparities within the system, while seeking justice for her innocent son, who lost his life.”
Stating that Mai Ghat had gone far beyond the brutality angle, Mahadevan went on to that the film questioned the social responsibility and individual conscience.
Cinema Sans Language Barrier
While touching on the aspect of the influence of language in the contemporary films, Ananth Mahadevan said: “Actually if you see the star struck mainstream formula Hindi film scenario, the regional cinema today has humongous impact. I could have made Mai Ghat in my native tongue, Malayalam. When I am based out of Mumbai, obviously, Marathi is a comfort zone to launch the film at a short notice of one month, which is impossible for me to visit all the way to Kerala and rope in an investor. Besides that, today, language is immaterial to cinema, as it has become a mere subtitle. People all over the world only love the language of cinema.”
Stating the fact in no uncertain terms, Ananth Mahadevan said that it was however his long standing dream to direct a movie in Malayalam. Why? Pat came the reply.
“Both actors and audiences are discerning and that is a great space to work in. As a matter of fact, I had almost got into the making of a Malayalam movie on the real life incident of the famous ISRO Spy Case, involving the scientist, Nambinarayanan. I approached the superstar of Malayalam industry, Mohanlal and he had agreed to do the part. Apparently, for some reasons, I gathered that the internal politics were interfering in locking a producer. Thus, the project had to be put on hold.”
About his films and the latest flick, Ananth Mahadevan said that he had made sincere efforts to better himself with every film. “If you discount the mainstream movies I had made such as Dil Vil Pyar Vyar, Dil Maange More and Aksar, the last eight odd films had seen persistent growth for me as a film maker. For instance, films like Staying Alive, Red Alert, Gour Hari Dastaan, Mee Sindhutai Sapkal, Rough Book, Doctor Rakmabai, Life is Good and now, Mai Ghat, it is certainly ten steps ahead for me as a film maker. Also, the response from international jury members such as Roger Garcia and global stars like Tannistha Chatterjee, last, but not the least, auteurs including Shaji N. Karun had vouched for it,” Ananth Mahadevan signed off.