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Hope to inspire other women not to be silent: Producer Mohini Gupta on Mai Ghat

Indie producer Mohini Gupta explains why she wanted to make her first film in Marathi and why she was drawn to the unusual story of Prabhavathy Amma.

Sukhpreet Kahlon

Mai Ghat: Crime No 103/2005 is based on the real-life struggle of a woman, Prabhavathy Amma, who fought a legal battle for 13 years to get justice for her son, who was beaten to death in police custody.

Directed by Ananth Mahadevan and produced by Mohini Gupta, the film is a tribute to the formidable spirit of Prabhavathy Amma, who refuses to bow down and continues her fight against the odds.

The film was received enthusiastically by the audience at a screening at the 50th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa, where actress Usha Jadhav won the Silver Peacock Award for Best Actor (Female), and at the sixth Rajasthan International Film Festival in Jaipur on 21 January 2020.

In an exclusive conversation with Cinestaan.com on the sidelines of IFFI 2019, Gupta discussed the reasons that led her to produce such a hard-hitting film. She said, “I had it in my mind that I wanted to make a Marathi film as my first independent film. There are so many stereotypes about producers, but being a young woman producer, I have had to overcome so many obstacles to reach where I am today.

"With this comes a duty to help and empower other women and that is what this story [of the film] is about... about a woman, her struggle, being from a poor family with no support. She fought this battle for 13 years with an unrelenting spirit. Only a mother can have that spirit and by talking about Prabhavathy Amma and her fight for justice, I hope to inspire other women not to be silent and not to give up and definitely not to bear any kind of injustice," she continued.

Interestingly, it took Gupta almost no time to agree to come on board once she heard the story. She explained, "When I was in the post-production of my web-series, I spoke to some people that I was looking for a story for a Marathi film and I was connected to Ananth Mahadevanji. He came and gave me an outline and I immediately said that I wanted to do the film."

Contrary to mainstream films that mostly rely on action to take the narrative forward, Mai Ghat emphasizes the waiting of the mother for justice, even though everything and everyone around her changes and life moves on. Despite the pace and treatment of the film, Gupta was undeterred.

"While making this film, I was always sure that I wanted to make real cinema," she said. "This is the biggest risk I took. I was very happy that my parents supported my vision. A lot of people came and said that the film will not do well commercially, but I was sure that whether or not the film is commercially successful, the movie will go places.

"I want to change the idea that a woman has to be loud. Why do you have to show someone [a woman] crying loudly? She [the mother] is a strong woman."

Speaking about the appreciative and positive response that the film has received, she added, “I believe hard work pays. I am confident that I have made a good film and I leave the rest to the jury and the audience because audience is the biggest people who give you the biggest pedestal in life.”

Gupta also spoke about her goals as a producer and the elements that dictate the choice of a script for her. “I hope to inspire everyone," she said. "My concentration is not just on inspiring women, but men also, so if something comes my way where people can get inspired, I will be very happy to take those stories.”

Gupta has produced a web-series with Hotstar that is based on a true story and is on the lookout for other inspiring stories.

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IFFI Rajasthan International Film Festival