Horror seems to be Bollywood’s new vanilla, which is being blended seamlessly with different genres of cinema acting as other flavors. Recently, horror was blended with comedy in Rajkummar Rao’s, Stree and this week, Sohum Shah Starrer, Tumbad, does this with fantasy. Helmed by three directors - Rahi Anil Barve, Anand Gandhi and Adesh Prasad, Tumbad is an off-beat blend of mythology, with a gory and dark narrative.
The three-part narrative opens with a mythological premise of a Goddess, who created Earth and held her evil child, Hastar, in her womb to save the world from his malevolence. In pre-Independence India, in a quaint Tumbbad, a lady with two sons, nurtures an ailing old lady by the day and serves as the mistress to a feudal lord, Sarkar by the night. A folklore says Sarkar’s home has a hidden treasure, which remains unraveled with the sudden demise of Sarkar. Years later, the lady’s elder son, now a young man, Vinayak Rao (played by Sohum Shah), returns to Tumbbad to look for the hidden treasure. His insatiable greed makes him frequently return to Tumbbad, for the prized gold coins hidden in the wada. His greed sees no end and he ends up pulling his teenage son, Raja (Actor’s Name) into this dark, gory and sinful mess.
The cinematography by Pankaj Kumar is painstakingly beautifully and sets the gruesome tone of the movie. The tones are all greys and blacks, interrupted only by the glows of the fire. From crooked trees to the close-up shots of ghastly, decaying bodies, the camerawork is brilliantly used to create a disturbing, yet, consuming narrative. The make-up and prosthetics artists also deserve an applause, for creating the cadaverous characters, like Hastar, who are not inserted in the movie for cheap-thrills, but are regular characters forming the cast. Complementing the dark frames is the gritty background score by Ajay-Atul and Jesper Kyd, that is subtle and never overshadowing the narrative. The movie, though crisp, seems to lose some steam during the second part, but quickly picks up pace in the final part, reaching an intriguing climax. Also, I must admit, it is a rare kind of fantasy thriller seldom seen in Indian cinema.
While the credit for crafting this movie majorly goes to the technicians and its directors, they are blessed with equally good actors. Sohum Shah, as Vinayak, brings in a variety of emotions effortlessly. His love-making scene with his mistress, shows him change rapidly from a lustful man to a man angry at his friend’s betrayal. He is supported amply by Deepak Damle, who plays his teenage son and displays the same greed and lust that his father has, albeit knowing when to control it. The rest of the cast support the narrative well and the lack of any unnecessary subplot is a major plus point.
Tumbbad may not appeal the faint-hearted. But it is a fantasy horror that certainly deserves a chance, for making huge strides in the right direction as far as Indian cinema is concerned.
My Rating – 3.5/5