Family members play themselves in Meghalaya director's acclaimed film

Dominic Megam Sangma's Ma.Ama is only Indian competitor for Jio MAMI's best international film

By Andrew W. Lyngdoh in Shilong
  • Published 4.10.18, 12:40 AM
  • Updated 4.10.18, 12:40 AM
  • 2 mins read
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A still from Ma.Ama Agencies

Philip, 85, has lived for 30 years in the hope that one day he will be reunited with his wife in the afterlife.

These lines are from the synopsis of Ma.Ama, a film by Meghalaya filmmaker Dominic Megam Sangma, which will be screened at Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival later this month, and will be competing for the best film among 12 from across the world.

This Garo-language film is also the only Indian film selected for the international competition of the festival to be held from October 25.

“It is a very personal film, based on the true experiences of my father. It took me more than five years to write the script, which involved intimate conversations with my father. This led me to delve into his painful memories,” Dominic said on Wednesday.

The filmmaker has no memories about his mother who passed away when he was two-and-a-half years old. “All of her memories are inherited from my siblings,” he said. He pointed out that the film germinated from his quest to know who his mother was and what really happened to her, which his siblings were not ready to open up about. “Though my father remarried, he still missed my mother. The void she left cannot be filled. This film is about the quest of father and son to fill that gap,” Dominic said. 

His family members played themselves in the film. “My father plays the main character. All our family members acted as well. Even the villagers helped me during the shoot,” he said.

Ma.Ama is Dominic’s first feature film and is an Indo-China production.

In the film, Philip’s yearning to reunite with his wife is jeopardised by a dream — in which he searched for her in a crowd of women in a barren landscape. But he could not recognise his wife’s face no matter how much he struggled.

“....Philip’s quest demands him to face the things that he had been avoiding for 30 years. But at this stage, it is no longer a choice; it is the only gate to open and walk through it,” the synopsis said.

A graduate of Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute in Calcutta, Dominic had earlier worked with the National Film and Development Corporation before he started his own production company, Anna Films. He also teaches direction and script writing at the Film and Television Institute, Itanagar.

His diploma film, Rong.kuchak (Echoes), won the National Students’ Film Award in 2014, and also got special mention at the Ca’Foscari Short Film Festival in Venice in 2015.