The human misery incurred by brutal globalization: this is the premise of young writer-director Mangesh Hadawale’s Tingya (best film, Maharashtra State Film Awards), from India. Tingya is a 7-year-old boy who begs for the life of his pet bullock, Chitangya, which his father, a poor farmer, feels he must sell to the butcher if his family is to survive. Injury has robbed the animal’s capacity to contribute to the family’s livelihood. Can the father ignore his son’s pleas, which his wife supports? This is a terrible situation, much darker and more intense than the one in which the lawyer-father finds himself in Vincente Minnelli’s Meet Me in St. Louis (1944); but the same outcome is necessary insofar as it preserves two things: the cohesiveness of family; humanity in the face of an inhuman economic and political system determined elsewhere, and imposed from there, in the West.
Producer Ravi Rai dedicates this Marathi film to the memory of those farmers who, under the duress of globalization, committed suicide at the rate of 26 a day, 9,360 a year, from 1993 to 2006. Myself, I do not feel that globalization is headed anywhere, except to realize its aim of lining the pockets of rich, vicious corporate leaders and their entities; but those who honestly believe that globalization is “lifting all boats” surely have sold their souls to the notion that the end justifies the means.
Except for one stunning lengthwise indoors shot, with one figure in the foreground and the boy, in the distant background, in the door open to the outside, this is a film of meager visual content. It is rudimentary—and in color, whereas the material cries out for the urgency of black and white. Despite its shortcomings, however, it beautifully portrays the impossible situation into which forces beyond his control places Tingya’s father, who finds the claims of family on both sides of this bind. It makes the suicides of farmers comprehensible—and therefore impossible (for us) to live with.
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