A rare fight for justice on screen

 thehindu.com  12/04/2019 19:32:39 

On the night of September 27, 2005, Prabhavati Amma kept waiting for her son Udayakumar to return home. The 27-year-old, who used to work at a scrapyard, never failed to come home at night. The next day, a few policemen approached her and asked her to identify a dead body kept at the mortuary of Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram. It turned out to be her son.

Later, it was revealed that Udayakumar was wrongly arrested on charges of theft and underwent severe torture in custody, leading to his death. Prabhavati Amma, though uneducated and living on subsistence wages, decided to fight it out in the courts.

13-year-long fight

The 13- year-long fight for justice resulted in a historic judgement last year, when the police officials responsible for the brutal death of Udayakumar were found guilty by the CBI Special Court. It was the first time that policemen were sentenced to death in India.

Filmmaker Ananth Mahadevan, who came to know about the story from a newspaper editorial on the verdict, decided to make a film on it.

Mai Ghat: Crime No. 103/2005, which has already won plaudits at various film festivals, will be screened in the Indian Cinema Now category of the 24th International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK).

Ananth has set the story in the rural areas of Sangli in Maharashtra. He met and interviewed Prabhavati Amma before writing the script that is centred around Prabha Mai (played by Usha Jadhav), a washerwoman.

In chronicling her fight for justice, he also looks at the personal lives of some of the policemen, who are tender and loving towards their family members, while revealing their inhuman nature in uniform.

Not equal

The film also seeks to highlight how the law deals differently with people from different strata. Udayakumar was wrongly picked up for a case of petty theft after the policemen found 4,000 in his pocket, which they assumed was stolen money.

Mr. Mahadevan is a familiar face at the IFFK, having had his films screened here. His previous film Gour Hari Dastaan, released in 2015, was on an Odisha freedom fighter who fought 32 long years to be recognised for his role in the freedom struggle.

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