A monsoon-clad small village in Maharashtra, 1918. At the center of Tumbbad stands a mysterious fort, breathing its westering glory and hidden wealth. Wealth that pulls the greedy like the oasis does to the thirsty.
Sohum Shah’s Tumbbad is an act pulled off with traits of mythology, folktales and horror. The progenitor goddess who gave birth to all the fore following gods, holds her eldest child Hastar dearest to her. The goddess, in possession of unexplainable wealth is not able to satiate her son with just love though. He eyes the wealth, is cursed and remains in protection of it as a forgotten god figure.
Ages later, Vinayak Rao (Sohum Shah), once a resident of Tumbbad who departed with doubts and personal loses, dives deeps into the mystery and fear. Vinakayk is a greedy man and admits so. He’s got a wife, a beautiful mistress and three children. But the frightening, deserted fort and a hair-raising creature that often makes its presence known, aren’t off his mind. There he goes. Again and again. And for one final time, with his own son.
Tumbbad is undeniably spooky. It boasts of a great production which instills life to its folktale characters quite perfectly. If you are faint-hearted, then the film is going to be a tough adventure for you. It is not a regular horror drama wherein you are subjected to out of the blue supernatural actions. Like a moth jumps into the fire, fate pulls Vinakay to a blood-curdling destination.
At the same time, it is a psychological horror with its share of blood and goriness. However, the most intriguing part of the film is that here, common men turn monsters. Debutant director Rahi Anil Barve has taken on quite a metaphor there. The film is also a winner in terms of performance. Sohum Shah delivers a winning act, rightly accompanied by child artiste Mohammad Samad. It is, at the same time, a commendable effort of experimenting on a regular folktale and adding a contemporary context as well as humane twists.
But is Tumbbad extraordinary? No. At times, the film is too convenient. At times, the metaphors take longer to be interpreted than they should. But nevertheless, it is well-established from all its perspectives.
Also, the director deserves a round of applause for not nearing the regular Bollywood horror elements. We are quite done with unhappy souls who hung themselves, an old caretaker who knows it all and a beautiful woman who is possessed. Barve doesn’t walk that way, and thankfully so.
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