Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 20:
Adivasi jhi, andhare rahba sikh – the line extracted from first Odia biopic ‘Tulasi Apa’, a film based on true life story of Padma Shri Tulasi Munda – reveals the way women were considered in rural tribal society during ancient years.
Perhaps this was the cause that encouraged Mini, name given by Tulsi Munda’s parents, to fight against all odds in society and later she became the most adorable woman, who was later called Tulasi Apa.
Mini was a born social activist and reformer. The instinct was seen in her childhood days when she pelted stone at her neighbour, who was beating his daughter under influence of alcohol.
Born to a patriot on July 15, 1947 at Seranda in Keonjhar district, Mini alias Tulasi was brought up under poverty. She chose to work at mines to earn for her widow mother after she lost her father at early age. She was a rebel to defend her dignity and to live for a cause.
She had passion for studies. The woman, who had never attended any school or university to get education, proved that a woman can be literate through her strong will power. She paid values to education. Although, her mother did not allow her for education in school, she was learning Odia alphabets from her village postman and the forest hills were her blackboard.
Mini at her teen fell in love with a man, who was teaching her Odia Panikia (table). But, her desire to get her beau as her life partner ended up in heartbreak. She decided to move on and live for others to in search of peace. Utkal Naba Jeevan Mandal gave her hope to live on her way. She served children staying at Ashram run by Nabakrushna Choudhury at Angul. Being impressed by her duty and dedication, Choudhury wanted to send her to another branch as the manager. She chose her native place Seranda to begin a new journey with a mission. She was known as Tulasi for her contribution and devotion for service. She had realised education is the only weapon to develop the tribals who can fight for their right against the corrupt practices. In 1980, she began her mission from her native land Seranda in the year 1980. The malicious malignants at the village started conspiring to eliminate Tulasi and as a result, she lost receiving support from Naba Jeevan Mandal. However, she never lost hope. Her associate Janha encouraged her not to quit their mission. Ultimately, she managed to set up her own organisation titled as Adivasi Bikash Samiti where she was teaching the deprived tribal children and nourishing them to have a better future. Even her efforts to bring back the hardcore Maoists to the mainstream were commended.
She was nominated for the prestigious Padma Shri award for her contribution to spread literacy among tribals, work against exploitation and antiliquor protests.
All the stages of life that the veteran passed through have been presented finely in the film Tulasi Apa under banner of Amiya Patnaik Productions. Barsha Nayak in the lead role as Tulasi Apa touches the vein of the audience in many scenes. The film reveals the true picture of triabls who are deprived of education and victims of exploitation. The audience would love the rural tribal background, the rustic language, beauty of nature and on screen chemistry in the first half. The cinematography by Arjun Jena, screenplay & dialogue by Chinmay Daspatnaik were awesome. Even though, there were some technical flaws, audience would ignore those because of powerful script and dominating character.
Finally, the last dialogue delivered by Barsha as Tulasi Apa would surely bowl out the critics when her associate Janha informs her and children about her nomination for Padmasri award by the Union government. Padmasri sina milichi hele tume mane mora asal padma (Although I have been nominated for the Padma award, you — children — are my real lotus).
Although, there is always an option for a better, the film is a must watch. Presenting the real Tulasi Apa character on screen is undoubtedly as tough as the movie we would think to make on Mahatma Gandhi and other great souls. The struggle, sacrifices and pain Tulasi Munda passed through in her life, only she can justify the character.