Tinguji has spent a lifetime selling candies at Delhi University’s Kirori Mal College (KMC). For four decades, neither heat nor rain or cold could deter this slight little old man from going about his business.
“I used to sell pen nibs at a shop in Hans Raj College but that had to be shut due to the Emergency in 1975. I then thought I’ll carry with me whatever I have to sell, so that no one can dislocate me ever again,” says Amarnath Gupta aka Tinguji, who earns anything between Rs 250 to Rs 300 per day.
The campus grapevine has several stories about the puny man. According to one such story, actor Amitabh Bachchan, an alumnus of KMC, who used to visit him regularly during his graduation days, owes him Rs 6.12. But the humble man says, “This information was wrongly framed by a journalist from Lucknow, who wanted to sell his story. He printed it and everyone else picked it up.”
It’s true that Amitabh Bachchan used to buy candies from me during his graduation days in Kirori Mal. But when people become celebs as big as Big B, they forget people like us. — Tingu ji
“It’s true that Amitabh Bachchan used to buy candies from me during his graduation days in Kirori Mal. But when people become celebs as big as Big B, they forget people like us. Amitabh used to meet me after graduating from college. There are a few actors who don’t bother to even say a hello when they visit their college. But it’s okay, I don’t get bothered by them,” he adds .
The long list of celebs, who have bought candies and chocolates from him includes filmmakers Kabir Khan, Satish Kaushik and actors Shakti Kapoor, Sushant Singh, Divyendu Sharma.
Among DU’s popular alumni, a few who have made it a point to meet their favourite candy seller is actor Gulshan Grover. “He studied in Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) and used to come to Kirori Mal regularly, to meet his friends. That’s when he was introduced to me. We used to sit and eat bread pakoras outside KMC. Till today whenever he visits North Campus, he comes to meet me and at times we even have a cup of chai together,” he says.
I have played a one-minute role in Shah Rukh Khan’s famous TV serial Doosra Keval (1989). Shah Rukh specially asked me to be part of his show… — Tingu ji
Such influence of the acting world had to land Gupta into acting! “I have played a one-minute role in Shah Rukh Khan’s famous TV serial Doosra Keval (1989). Shah Rukh specially asked me to be a part of his show,” he coyly shares. “I carry my photographs clicked with all these celebrities nahi to log kehte hain ki jhooth bol raha hai [otherwise people think that I’m lying],” he adds.
His connect with the students has significance even in their political careers. “Anyone who participates in KMC’s annual student union election comes to take my blessings. They call me university ka Anna Hazare but I tell them padai pe dhyaan do, faltu cheezon mein kuch nahi rakha [focus on studies, there’s nothing in politics],” says Tinguji.