By Dr. Mandar V. Bichu
Tingya belongs to that rare category of films, which not only touches your heart but also stirs your soul deep within! Watching this film is realizing how little do we know or care for the lives of millions of poor and underprivileged Indian farmers and their families.
After being rejected by 40 producers, (some of whom wanted item songs and celebrity names to spruce up the film!), writer-director Mangesh Hadawale finally succeeded in convincing producer Ravi Rai to finance his Marathi film- venture. In just Rs. 27 lacs ( a price even less than a glitzy music video- production!), he made a film that has already won many awards, narrowly missed being India’s Oscar-entry (losing to TZP) and is certain to be accorded the status of a classic in years to come!
Tingya is a tale of a poor farmer’s 7- year old son Tingya (Sharad Goekar) and his unique bond with the family’s pet bullock – Chitangya. Injured in an accident, the bullock becomes useless for the farming work. The harrowed, debt-ridden farmer now faces the dilemma of buying a new bullock for the harvesting season. The only way he can raise money for that purpose is to sell Chitangya to the slaughterhouse. The boy – so deeply attached to his animal friend – is shattered by his father’s decision. Praying to the Gods, requesting to the Godmen, running to the vet – Tingya tries everything in his capacity to save his pet bullock from the butcher’s knife. His best friend and neighbour- Rashida tries her best to help him in his endeavor. Repeatedly Tingya just asks one question, “If you don’t send the sick people to slaughterhouse, then why send sick animals there?” Does he get his answer? Is he able to save his dear Chitangya?
Mangesh Hadwale’s story was apparently based on his own experiences and the reality shows in every frame of the film. Sharad Goekar’s Tingya and Sunil Deo’s Karbhari (Tingya’s father) leave their mark with their intense heartfelt portrayals. But then almost every significant character in this film is memorable!Tingya’s innocent impetuosity, his father’s helplessness, his mother’s resilience, his brother’s indifference, Rashida’s unquestioning friendship, her grandmother’s unconditional love – every emotion, every feeling comes through so spontaneously and naturally, without ever becoming melodramatic. The camera-work superbly brings to life the inner Maharashtra’s beautiful terrains and captures in detail, the farmers’ simple yet complex lives. Even the single repetitive theme-song – ‘Maaza Zulaa’ perfectly echoes the region’s ethos. Such is the magic of this film that Shyam Benegal was moved to call it ‘Poem’!
The film’s greatest strength is its ability to transcend the tale it tells. Tingya just doesn’t remain a story of a young child’s desperate bid to save his pet. It becomes a tragedy of lives having no control of over their destinies. It shows us how humanity and compassion come second best to poverty and the need for survival. At the same time, it also shows that the circle of life moves on despite all the difficulties and hardships!
Films like Tingya make us uneasy. Suddenly our cushy air-conditioned New World lives centered round a rat-race of promotions and bank-balances; week-end parties and Bollywood gossips seem so meaningless. It shows us an old and tired world out there that still revolves round a day-to-day struggle to just live and let live! There bare-footed children walk for miles to go to school; tired housewives plow in the fields and penniless farmers take their own lives!