As the Commonwealth Games are approaching, in its frenzy to provide an international look for city of Delhi, Delhi government is taking one step or the other that may affect the livelihood of poor people and may also is a significant part of cultural landscape from yore, now being relegated to the background, as it is old, and decrepit. One such step is weeding out the ubiquitous Tongas from the landscape of Delhi.
Tongas as a matter of fact apart from the semi-urban areas and the old parts of cities, where they are use as a mode for communication, do not exist at all. For a city like Delhi, which was eponymous with evolution of Tongas, it being a part of the Mughal era, after being banned, would be consigned to history. To pay tribute to this non-polluting mode of contrast, it indeed is an opportune moment to revisit the significant moments on silver screen through Tongas.
- NAYA DAUR: B R Chopra’s epic film brought out in succinct details the struggle between a new mode of transport and the traditional mode of communication for the common man, underlining message being that one should strive for spirit of co-existence and not promote a new technology at the cost of old ones.
- SHOLAY: Hema Malini could not have attained the cult status as an actress, but for the role that she enacted in SHOLAY as Basanti. Quite a lot of actresses tried to emulate the role but the punch that Hema Malini had packed in the role could not be emulated by any other actor.
- MARD: Amitabh Bachchan as the male tongawala in the Manmohan Desai epic brought quite a lot of flair into the role of a tongawalla, who used to run his tonga in the Cubbon park in Bangalore.
- GARAM HAWA: The struggle with the self and the dilemma to leave or be in India was picturized in a beautiful manner on the tonga where Balraj Sahni used to brood and think about the course of action that he needed to adapt in light of changing political situation in the country.
- O. P. NAYYAR: Apart from the score of films where tongas appeared as a means of communication in the films OP Nayyar was one music director who used the sound produced by hoofs of horses when they ply on the road, drawing the tongas, was primarily responsible for giving an exalted status to tongas in the psyche of the average Indian movie goer. He was a thorough bred Punjabi who must have grown on the sound of the hoofs of horse, and made it eternal when he became a musician.
Tongas may ultimately disappear from the physical landscape but through these films and the music of OP Nayyar it would continue to make its presence felt n the life of an average individual movie fan of the country. May be, they would make their debut in cyber space in one form or the other, as the fans for it still have nostalgia associated with the tongas.
By: Suman Rai