Rarely comes a movie that changes the very genre of Indian horror with its original story-telling and visuals. Actor-producer Sohum Shah's Tumbbad is one such film that will be a proud entry in the horror genre, and something we can say is game-changing and worthy recommending to a movie buff from a different country. It may be wrong to call Tummbad as just a horror film; it excellently manages to blend in elements from fantasy and horror to create a tight narrative and a haunting moral tale of how Greed can never be good! Tumbbad Movie Review: Sohum Shah's Fantasy-Horror Film Excels in Its Macabre Visuals and Stunning Story-Telling.
Nearly everything about the film is right. The casting is spot on and the performances are brilliant. For a movie not backed by a big production house, the special effects and creature designs are top-notch, as well as other technical aspects. Moreover, we can easily see that the director Rahil Anil Barve has taken painstaking efforts to get the milieu and the feel right. Above all, Tumbbad is almost a distraction-free film, tightly narrated and filled with some shocking and squeamish scenes, many of which are not for the faint-hearted. Like the seven scenes below -
The Masturbation Scene
After the epilogue that narrates the demonic entity Hastaar's fate, the movie begins in the village of Tumbbad when India was still under British rule. A widow is seen running into a sprawling, but crumbling mansion owned by an old man. The scene that follows is set in the bedroom where she is fanning the old man while also masturbating him, as he moans in pleasure! And to think, they don't even need a ghost to jolt you!
Vinayak's Undead Grandmother
The widow has two young children from the old man who stay in a separate house, where she also takes care of the cursed mother of the old woman. At first, we don't see this woman, only her eerie voice and the fact that she only sleeps when it is told 'So jaa varna Hastaar aa jayega!' (Hastaar is the Gabbar of Tumbbad!). When Vinayak, in his greed, tries to question his granny for the hidden treasure in the old man's mansion (he dies of old age), it is then that both he and us see this deformed entity who has a lust for human flesh. But more than her appearance, we are more shocked by the fact that the young Vinayak still wants to ask her about the treasure, even though he barely saved his own life from her murderous attack.
The Living Tree
15 years later, a grown-up Vinayak (Sohum Shah) returns to his village and to his old house to meet his granny. And what he sees is that she is still alive even with a tree growing out of her!
Mother Nature's Womb
Vinayak manages to eke the secret of the treasure from his grandmother, before burning her and saving her from her undead existence. But he only takes a few coins at a time from the hiding place, returning for more later, while we never see where he takes the gold. It is through his equally greedy friend who follows Vinayak to the hiding place (not knowing that he is luring him to a trap) that we realise it happens to be inside a huge womb, literally. And to that poor man's unfortunate fate, we also find out that the legend of Hastaar is true.
Okay, the real Hastaar doesn't look like the above ginger-bread man. He is a far more terrifying creation whose bite leaves its victim lead a cursed existence for eternity till someone burns them to death. We also find out how Vinayak gets his gold - he used dough-bread figures to lure the ever-hungry Hastaar, and while the latter is busy eating it, opens his loin-cloth and steals whatever gold falls off, before making his escape. So much risk for a few coins of gold!
Vinayak's Son is His Mirror Self
At first, we think Vinayak's son is an innocent kid who is just looking for his father's approval. However, after a trip to Tumbbad where he turns out to be pro at tricking Hastaar and taking the gold, we find out this kid is mini-Vinayak. Not only is he greedy himself, the kid also hides secrets from his mother like his father and is infatuated with his father's mistress.
The Shocking Climax
Vinayak's son suggests something to him that I had in my mind all the time - why lure Hastaar with one dough-bread man and instead, use many to keep him busy and take as much gold as they want. Vinayak thinks that this is a good idea and they try this out on their next trip to Tumbbad. Unfortunately for them, they didn't know then that with each additional dough, Hastaar also replicates himself accordingly. The father-son duo get surrounded by multiple Hastaar's and only one manages to get out alive!
(The opinions expressed in the above article are of the author and do not reflect the stand or position of LatestLY.)