Rahi Anil Barve creates a spooky world of culture, mythical characters, folklore, and fear all blended together for visual richness. But its not a film for masses
Starting off with a sinister approach where right from the first shot, you are in for soaring heartbeats, Tumbbad hooks you at a mental level. However, one beauty of the film lies in the fact that you can’t tag it in any one genre. While it majorly boasts of being horror, it also is an adventure fantasy, a philosophical take on modern man, a satire on greed, which actually forms the backdrop. You are in for a catch right at the start with a quote by Mahatma Gandhi taking the screen.
Its a mythological story about a goddess who created the entire universe. The plot revolves around the consequences when humans build a temple for her first-born Hastar. Set in the town of Tumbbad in Maharashtra in pre-independence era, young Vinayak (Mohd Samad) is introduced to the legendary folk tale of Hastar. His treasure full of gold medallions is buried somewhere in the estate of local zamindar in the village. Vinayak’s mother is the caretaker for zamindar’s old wife, who’s also believed to be possessed by the evil. Grown up Vinayak (Sohum Shah) becomes obsessed with the treasure. But getting it is not at all easy.
The story by Anand Gandhi, Mitesh Shah, Adesh Prasad, and Barve himself is enticing. More so, the way it has been told makes the entire experience a cinematic marvel.
Complex elements have been well thought of and executed with finesse. The eeriness of a horror flick, the excitement of a fantasy, confusions, complexities of human nature, cultural folklore, satire on humanity as a whole- have all been incorporated and fused into each other. The film changes shapes so effortlessly that the minute you start enjoying one genre, you are in for a turn of events.
Beginning with the graphical representation of the mythical story, the plot hooks you with the narrative taking shape in a symbolic way. Likewise, it remains an allegorical sketch of the folk tale asking the audience to draw resemblance to human kind. Also the reason for setting the story in pre-independence age is something to think about.
The entire film by its very nature is not easy to comprehend, making the film an entity for the classes, especially those cherishing complex cinema in all its merits and demerits. That said and done, the target group will be completely satisfied, not just by the story but also seeing technicalities at their best. In-fact its one film that can be shown in film schools to teach technical order in place and what technicalities can do to accentuate the feel of the film.
Its Sohum Shah who makes this film so intriguing. Hats off to this man for portraying a difficult character with such aplomb. His body language, expressions, transformations in situations are all to cherish beyond limits. Why the industry doesn’t count him in the league of extraordinary men is a serious matter of concern.
Mohd Samad is also very good bringing forth the innocence as well as the cunning nature of the character. His face says a lot.
Anita Date and Ronjini Chakraborty are decent too.
Ajay Atul and Jesper Kyd’s music is one of many things that lifts the film’s soul. While there are no songs, the haunting and thundering background score never lets you feel the need for any melody.
Pankaj Kumar’s camera transports you to the sinister places. The locations are captured with so much sincerity that even with routine actions on screen, you sensed there was something fishy. And that’s exactly what keeps you glued to the drama. Impeccable work with the camera. Kudos.
Editing by Sanyukta Kaza is first rate. The sequencing is menacing, adventurous, and complex. The structure and the flow here is responsible big time for the effect it creates on your minds.
The sure shot winner here is undoubtedly the marvelous and splendid production design by Nitin Zihani Chowdhary and Rakesh Yadav . They have taken this film to an all new high level just by creating it stunning visually. While the camera captures wonderfully, it is superlative effort here that gives the camera articles. The indoors and outdoors, the village and the vacant landscapes, the houses and the dilapidated mansions- have all been created so beautifully that you can’t stop praising them.
Barve’s attempt of serving a thrilling adventure fantasy is top notch. Of course it could have been served to masses and classes alike. It doesn’t remain so. But whatever the film is in its 113 mins of run-time is sheer enjoyment par excellence.