Alphonse Roy on ‘Mai Ghat: Crime No 103/2005’ winning Best Cinematography at Sg.SAIFF
“Cinematography is not just documenting images and putting them on screen. It is about understanding the script, the sensitivity of the characters,” says cinematographer Alphonse Roy, whose Marathi movie Mai Ghat: Crime No 103/2005 has won three awards — Best Film, Best Editing and Best Cinematography at the Singapore South Asian International Film Festival recently. Alphonse is obviously excited about the accolades, for he believes that Mai Ghat is “an inspiring story of women empowerment that needed to be told”. The film, directed by the National award-winning filmmaker Anant Mahadevan, is based on the 13-year-long battle for Prabhavati Amma, whose son Udayakumar died a custodial death in 2005. Two cops were eventually found guilty and were sentenced to death by the Kerala High Court in 2017.
Mai Ghat is a fictionalized take on the real-life incident and is set in a small village in Maharashtra. It focusses on the mother’s struggle in getting justice for her son’s death. When Alphonse read the script, he loved the world Anant was creating and felt it was “significant accomplishment in empowering women”. He adds, “It’s the material that attracted me. “Every time we talk about women empowerment, it’s invariably attached to literacy and constitutional rights. But Mai Ghat is one of the stories that deal with multiple factors.” Alphonse says he was following the case ever since it was much publicized in the media. “Mai Ghat is a win for our producer Mohini, who, unlike other producers, never thought about box-office pressure. She believed in this journey as much as we did.”
What is unique about Mai Ghat is that it was entirely shot on Cannon C-700 FF — a newly developed full-frame camera — making it a first in Marathi. Explaining his decision to go for this particular camera, Alphonse says, “The size of the chip is larger than old super 35 chips. When a chip becomes large in size, it gives you great advantages in terms of perspective.” But what determines the tonality for a grim subject like Mai Ghat? Is it the script or the characters’ emotions? “It’s a bit of both,” he says, elaborating, “I’m aiding the director in creating a certain mood and at the same time, I’m convincing the audience in effective storytelling. Since it’s a true story, I didn’t want any sort of visual distortion. In the sense, when you use a full-frame camera, you won’t get any distortion in the images.”
Alphonse Roy is currently working on a project in Nagpur. He has plans of remaking Mai Ghat in Tamil. “I’m directing it in Tamil with Revathi playing the lead role. If all goes well, I’ll be shooting it next year,” he signs off.