While as a country, we continue to witness the nationwide farmers protest, one can only imagine the build-up that has led to this outburst. This takes me back to a 2017 short film, ‘Mandi’, that told one the real-life stories of a farmer who had to face a bizarre situation, one that sounds impossible at first. Today on Koimoi recommends, let us visit this 10-minute short film by Yashowardhan Mishra that will leave you at a point where you will come out with respect for the people who strive hard to feed us.
Director: Yashowardhan Mishra
Available On: YouTube
Language: Marathi (with subtitles)
A farmer sets on to sell his harvest in a market (mandi) and is astounded to see buyers give a bare minimum rate for his homegrown onions. Mishra, who has written and directed the short film reportedly came across a weird bill given to a farmer who was made to pay to sell his crop. Sounds bizarre? Get on board.
The year is 2018, the agrarian crisis was and still continues to be one of the most prominent devils that the farmers are fighting. ‘Mandi’ came when the protest had just begun to catch momentum, and the community had finally found its voice. The film opens to a sequence where a wife is seeing off her husband who sets out to sell his onions. She hands over Rs 200 to get material to decorate their bullock to celebrate Pola (a festival celebrated in rural parts of Maharashtra to thank the cattle for their help in farming). But he is up to face a nightmare at the market.
Mandi is not just about farmers being oppressed but also what it leads to. Yashowardhan writers the narrative in a way that if not a huge family the effect that it does to a nuclear one is stark visible to the viewer. What gives more chills is the fact that this story is real. And it does sum up a lot of things for an urban soul like me, who has never really given attention to this department.
Metaphorically the short film is also how the outburst or the protest is created. In my opinion, Mishra embodies the plight of the farmers in Ganya, a little boy who dreams of playing with his friends with a remote control helicopter that he wants to buy in real. Ganya has been a gazer throughout the journey of his parents growing onions and taking them out to sell. When the vendor sets a price as low as nothing and rather demands money in return as the additional expenditure it triggers the little boy who cannot make peace with the fact that he is legally conned. Thus he rebels. And the rebellion is enough to shake you.
Acting performances by Kailash Waghmare, Meenakshi Rathod, Nihaal Joshi and Shrikant Yadav are exceptional. Mukesh Chhabra also deserves credit. Krishna Purohit’s hard-hitting background score does wonders in the climax.
Watch ‘Mandi’, and reassess what we are amid right now. Chose your side, but be well informed. The statistics are grey. Farmer suicides continue to grow in numbers, but is there a solution to it? Watch the short film and let it remind you that it isn’t easy and that they know what’s best for them. The next time you question a rebellion, be informed that it is an outcome of heat that has been increasing for a long time.
Watch Mandi right here: