The whole stadium chants their hero’s name as Sachin Tendulkar hits another boundary. There is a black and white television against a wall and eager faces of villagers packed to watch the umpire’s decision that is taking long. A villager threatens the umpire on screen: I dare you to raise your finger! If you raise that finger, I will come to the city and beat you up! The umpire does not budge to a vociferous appeal from the bowler. The villagers clap, and the chap who threatened the telly says proudly, ‘See, he listened to me! Sachin was not out!’
Tendlya’s Story: What does it take for you to be as great as Sachin
In that village, there are a bunch of schoolkids, who play cricket. They’re as mad a bunch as one could conjure up. One team is led by a rich chap (comparatively better dressed than the others). He has a proper bat, while our hero child Tendlya (named after the God of Cricket, Sachin Tendulkar himself) is a scrawny guy, who plays with a makeshift bat that’s a paddle for washing clothes.
Is the MRF bat that makes the man great?
Tendlya is convinced that he needs an MRF bat to win the cricket match that has a wager of ten whole rupees with the rich kids. He cries, he throws a tantrum, he even promises his mother that he will study if she buys him the bat that Sachin uses. She gives in, and she buys a bat that says MRF on it and the little boy is convinced his team will win.
But his cricket hating mother (because all the men including her husband and kid are cricket crazy and skip work and school when there’s a match on) gets the maths teacher to confiscate Tendlya’s bat, and even pushes the bat into her wood stove because she’s incensed.
Aren’t we all like that? We believe in the ‘if onlys’ when it comes to personal finance, we miss out on the opportunity staring us in the face. If only I had invested in this company or that mutual fund, I would be a rich/successful man today. And just like Tendlya, you have to find that moment during your life, and see that it’s not the MRF bat (decorated lovingly with Sachin Tendulkar’s pictures) which will help you make boundaries, it’s self-belief and determination to win that matters. Investment opportunities are not given to those who are waiting for that perfect moment to invest, the perfect amount, the perfect share price. There is no such thing. You have to launch your money life now, with what you have, and make it grow.
Just like Tendlya, you need the passion for the game. And just like Tendlya, when the teacher asks, ‘Which one of you will run to the vice principal’s house to find out what the score of the match is?’, you should be out of the classroom first, because you too want to know the score. The markets are not resting. Why should you?
Gajya, the second hero of the film teaches a bigger money lesson
The older hero of the film is Gajya, a 22 year old who drives a Mahindra Commander as a taxi, ferrying villagers from the village square to the nearest city.
He’s all heart. He’s helped his friend out of a financial mess but is now overdue in his payment for the vehicle. He is as cricket crazy as the rest of the village. But the young men in the village think it’s funny to shut the door on him and insult his poverty by saying, you have to beg better in order to watch cricket on my TV. His self respect is hurt and he swears that he will not just buy a television, but get a colour TV.
It costs 17,000 rupees, and that amount seems insurmountable, considering he isn’t earning enough. But the insults have stung him so hard, he is determined to make that money. He tells the TV shop man: save this TV for me. He works like crazy: ferries cement bags in his beloved vehicle, he labours carrying the cement bags (one rupee a bag) on his back, and when the axle on his vehicle breaks, he works to dig a well. The digging is a dangerous task because the stone quarry seems to be deep. Everyone tries to dissuade him, but he’s determined to earn that money.
His father refuses to mortgage their home for the TV. His mother and granny seek the help of a local witch to help dissuade him, the girl he likes is unable to express her feelings. But Gajya leaves for work before sunrise and returns home late at night, physically spent.
Nothing can be achieved without hard work
When was the last time we worked so hard to achieve something? Gajya’s passion for cricket drives him into forgetting food and sleep. He ignores people who want to persuade him to give up his dream. If we want our money to work just as hard as Gajya does, we need to be clear-sighted. What do you want your money to do for you?
Gajya’s friend tries to get him to smuggle bootleg alcohol. The cops stop him, but everyone knows Gajya to be an honest man. So they let him go. Gajya’s conscience will not let him use a shortcut to making money. Isn’t that a lesson we too need to learn?
The rewards will come. For Tendlya and Gajya
The final cricket match between the rich kids with an MRF bat and a city boy who knows things like ‘front foot’ batting and Tendlya’s motley team is the best thing ever! It is as nail-biting as any IPL or international cricket match. And the kids are hilarious, Barefoot and playing with practically no gear, they make the audience cheer and clap.
Of course Tendlya learns that he doesn’t need a fancy bat to win. Cricket is won by the strength of his mind.
Gajya’s hard work is almost paid off when the goons of the man who he owes the vehicle to, snatch the money he has earned. Dejected and defeated, he returns home. People gathered there to watch ‘cricket in colour’, jeer and laugh at him. His parents see the boss man himself arrive. Gajya’s father offers the house papers, apologising to the big man, saying, ‘Please forgive my son. He’s too crazy about cricket.’
The big man says, ‘Gajya is not crazy. He has passion. And he worked hard for it. If I had that kind of passion, I would have achieved greatness. This cannot be punished. We have to appreciate it.’
The boss man has brought with him the colour tv and the dish. Hard work is rewarded. Gajya watches Sachin in real colour.
The money lesson here is self-evident, isn’t it?
This film is in Marathi, but the lessons are universal. So much brilliance in one little film that came out of nowhere and bowled not just me, but an almost full theatre (2nd week running in Pune). I’m hoping your collective enthusiasm will help this film get on an OTT streaming platform so you too can be Tendlya or a Gajya…
Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication. She can be reached on Twitter at @manishalakhe.