As the online screening of the Marathi movie, Mai Ghat is about to happen in a while from the Indian Pavilion at the Festival de Cannes, the nomination of the film based on a real life incident by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India is a crowning glory moment, says its Director, Ananth Narayan Mahadevan.
In an exclusive interview given to The Indian News, the theatre personality, television and film actor and Director, Ananth Narayan Mahadevan speaks to the Editor, Jayashankar Menon about the movie, which is starred by Usha Jadhav, Script by C.P. Surendran and produced by Mohini Gupta, in a free-wheeling chat. Excerpts:
TIN: First and foremost, what is your reaction on your film, Mai Ghat being screened at the Festival de Cannes in a while?
ANM: The film Mai Ghat, after winning accolades in Singapore, New York, IFFI Goa, Kolkata, IFFK (Kerala) and Bengaluru now gets its crowning glory…the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India’s Official Selection to the Marche’ Du Film at Cannes. It is prestigious that both selectors and the Festival are of prime importance and to have Mai Ghat selected from a score of choices is indeed a rewarding experience.
TIN: You have embarked on this project after seeing an editorial pertaining to the court verdict of Prabhavati Amma. What was the trigger point to pick this particular inequality in the society?
ANM: Police brutality is linked to so many reasons…economic imbalance, caste differences and plain display of power. The recent George Floyd killing by a cop is nothing but the Prabhavati Amma case in another setting. The uproar all over the world has made the film more potent and topical. It will be a just tribute to the courage of a mother for exposing the disparities within the system while seeking justice for her son. Mai Ghat goes far beyond the brutality angle….it questions social responsibility and our individual conscience.
TIN: Instead of Hindi, having more reach, why did you bring the story into the Marathi context?
ANM: The regional cinema today has more impact than a star struck, mainstream formula Hindi film scene. I could have made it in my native tongue Malayalam, but being based in Mumbai, Marathi was a comfort zone to launch the film at a month’s notice which would not have been possible if I were to come to Kerala and look for an investor. Today language is immaterial to cinema….it becomes a mere subtitle…people all over the world only love the language of cinema. It is however my long standing dream to direct a film in Malayalam movie. Both actors and audiences are discerning and that is a great space to work in. I almost did, making a film on the real life incident of ISRO Spy Case involving the Scientist Nambinarayan, but, though Mohanlal had agreed to do the part, for some reasons I realised that internal politics were interfering in locking a producer.
TIN: In your long journey through the television and cinema, where does Mai Ghat stand?
ANM: I make a sincere effort to better myself with every film. If you discount the mainstream films I made (Dil Vil Pyar Vyar, Dil Maange More and Aksar), then the last eight films have been a steady growth for me as a filmmaker…Staying Alive, Red Alert, Gour Hari Dastaan, Mee Sindhutai Sapkal, Rough Book, Doctor Rakhmabai, Life is Good! and now Mai Ghat. It is certainly ten steps ahead for me as a director and the response from international jury members like Roger Garcia and global stars like Tannishtha Chatterjee and auteurs like Shaji N. Karun second that.
TIN: Going forward, will you be taking up more such intense subjects plaguing the society as your theme and make movies?
ANM: I have already completed one potentially explosive theme recently. The film is being kept under wraps as we are targeting major global platforms. So till then it is lips-sealed.