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Marathi cinema lends voice to a Malayali mother’s fight

Prabhavati Amma arriving at Kalabhavan theatre along with filmmaker Ananth Mahadevan and her advocate Siraj Karoly.

Prabhavati Amma arriving at Kalabhavan theatre along with filmmaker Ananth Mahadevan and her advocate Siraj Karoly.  

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'Mai Ghat: Crime No. 103/2005', screen at IFFK, is the screen adaptation of a lonely battle by a mother for her son

For 13 long years, 68-year-old Prabhavati Amma, a school dropout, almost waged a lonely fight for justice for her son Udayakumar, who was murdered brutally in police custody.

On Sunday, around a year after the landmark court verdict, which sentenced two policemen to death, she sat amid a crowd inside a movie theatre, reliving those days of struggle, when there was no hope in the horizon.

‘Mai Ghat: Crime No. 103/2005’, directed by Ananth Mahadevan, screened in the Indian Cinema Now category of the 24th International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), turned out to be a sensitive portrayal of her story, which according to Prabhavati Amma has almost replicated the experience that she had gone through.

Since Ananth has set the story in the rural areas of Sangli in Maharashtra, the Marathi language and the English subtitles were something that she could not fully comprehend, but yet she understood everything from the visuals.

“I saw on screen what I went through and what I am still going through. It will hopefully manage to open the hearts of many, including the heartless ones. They murdered my son for just ₹40,00. Let this not happen to any other son, or any other mother,” she says.

Accompanying her to the theatre along with the director was her advocate Siraj Karoly, who said the case came to him as a work of God. He recounted the attempts by the accused at protracting and delaying the trial, much of which is captured in the movie.

Ananth Mahadevan says that he came to know about her story from a newspaper editorial following the verdict last year. “I came here, met Prabhavati Amma. Later, we sat down, researched and wrote the script. It is a great honour that the film has been screened at major festivals. It is an honour, not for me, but for Prabhavati Amma and her fight for justice,” he says.

Her 27-year-old son Udayakumar, who used to work in a scrapyard, was picked up by the police on trumped charges of petty theft after the police found ₹4,000 in his pocket, on September 27, 2005. The next day, his mother was asked to identify his body.

Tight grip on narrative

In the film, Usha Jadhav gets the right mix of pathos and anger, in playing the lead role of Prabhavati Amma. It was a story that had everything in it be turned into an over-dramatic saga on screen, but the director keeps a tight grip on the narrative, making it realistic. He also focusses on the personal lives of the policemen involved in the crime, showing us how caring they are to their own children.

In one moving scene, the wife and daughter of one of the main accused approaches the victim’s mother, requesting her to back out of the case. “He is a good man,” says the daughter. “Only to you. People behave differently to different people,” replies the mother.

In the one year following the verdict, we have heard more cases of alleged custodial torture and murder. In that scenario, it is important that a work like this should be seen by those with and without the uniform.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 4:49:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/marathi-cinema-lends-voice-to-a-malayali-mothers-fight/article30240182.ece

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