"Tingya": The Life of Farmers in Remote Places By George Mathew

in 10th Mumbai International Film Festival

by George Mathew

On February 29th in 2008, the Finance Minister of the Government of India, Mr P. Chidambaram, announced the Budget for the year 2008-2009 in the Parliament in which the largest amount of 152.5 million dollars was kept aside to clear the debts of farmers in India. Why? The number of farmers’ suicides in India spread over the length and breadth of the country had risen greatly. Tingya basically deals with this perennial problem of the farmers in India. However, that is only one of the major issues the film deals with. There are other equal and important issues, both social and domestic, dealt with by this film thus further underling why it qualified for our Critics’ Prize.

Tingya is more about the life of farmers in remote villages in India. Their life is controlled by various conditions, i.e. land, weather, manpower, instruments, good seeds, as well as animals. Karbhari is a farmer who cultivates potatoes in a remote village in Maharashtra. His wife and two boys form their family in the strict sense. But that is not true enough. There are many other loved ones in their family like Chitangya, oxen born two months after Tingya. Therefore, the oxen was called Chitangya and treated as the third son of Karbhari’s family. One day Chitangya accidentally falls into a deep pit which makes him almost invalid as one of his rear legs was severely injured. This is the time for Karbhari to plough the land for seeding and two oxen are a must. There are three options available according to his wife: borrow money from the money lender which is readily available, but the recent suicide of Karbhari’s friend frightens him from seeking the money lender’s help. The next option is to borrow money from Mr Yakoob who is his immediate neighbor and a kind-hearted man. However, Yakoob is not rich enough to be able to support Karbhari at this point in time. Time is also very precious to Karbhari and his sister’s husband who is rich and owns a tractor but this is of no help to Karbhari….

The last option is selling Chitangya for slaughtering, thereby earning at least half of the money to buy healthy oxen…. Tingya cannot part with his younger brother Chithagya and this brings to the boil the pre-existing tension in the Karbhari household. The relationship between human beings and animals here in the life of farmers comes out vividly and effectively and it is this which separates this film from the rest.

Tingya also deals with another grave problem of this country, India, which is the intolerance amongst different religions. Here, while Karbhari is a Hindu, his good Samaritan in the next door is Yakoob, who is a Muslim. The bondage is deep and pure…. Something slowly disappearing from the psyche in the land of Ahimsa (non-violence).

Tingya is a painstaking and meticulously made film and brings out the emotional love of a young boy and a bull. It is also visually accomplished and effectively uses raw people to handle various characters including Tingya. Even Chithangya the oxen does a wonderful job expressing the love and pain. Hats off then to Tingya’s director Mangesh Hatawale on a unique and marvelous work.