We’ve all grown up reading and listening to tales that have a moral lesson to it. The usual morals were to always be honest, to always be kind, and many more. We all have heard about how harmful greed can be as well. Tumbbad, directed by Rahi Anil Barve, was a film that depicted greed in the most thrilling aspect ever.
The film starts out with a backstory of the creation of the world. Where the demon named Hastar is introduced to us. The first child of the creator of the world, and her most beloved, was a greedy creature. The creator made food and gold and constantly provided her world with it while Hastar kept stealing all the gold for himself and kept wanting more. When he tried to reach out for the food, every other child of the creator raged out and tried to banish him while she protected him in her womb.
After this narration, we come to the story of a family who are stuck in a tragic entanglement of a woman who had encountered the Hastar herself and was supposed to be taken care of. After the demise of his brother in an accident, Vinayak Rao (Sohum Shah) and his mother decide to leave the village and settle in Pune. Vinayak is the son of Tumbbad’s richest man and he knew that the wealth was written down to him. He tried with all his might to find the one treasure that was buried somewhere in the village that rightfully belonged to him. Years later, after the demise of his mother, he makes his way back to the village where the woman they were taking care of is still alive with a beating heart. And later, he finds out a grave truth about Hastar and whoever is attacked by him. That is the ultimate cost of greed.
He finds the treasure and all the ways to get the gold, facing and risking encounters with the Hastar and extracting as much gold as possible. He’d come back to Pune, sell them and become richer by the day. The greed had now swallowed him. The risk of death or even worse was nothing to him as compared to the gold that he was getting.
Years go by, he’s now too old to risk it all over again and hence, starts training his son to learn how to collect it. He takes his son to Tumbbad and shows him the reality of all his life’s wealth in a matter of minutes. The greed has now passed on.
The climax to this movie is tragic, much like the beginning but also very eye-opening as you realise how worse greed can get and how it can swallow you down and never let you go.
A few things about the film that I absolutely loved were:
- Aesthetics: The film was based around the 1920’s until after Independence. The setting, the lighting, the costumes, the dialect, every single thing was religiously perfect. And a huge part of the credit goes to Anand Gandhi, director of Ship of Theseus, who brought the film together as a Creative Director. The era that you see is the kind that you can feel as audience. It’s a time machine which will take you back to the mythological days while also touching concepts that are prevalent to humanity even today.
- Cinematography: Hats off to Pankaj Kumar, the cinematographer of the film. Every single frame and shot in this film is one to watch. You cannot miss out on the beauty of it. It honestly felt incomplete when the film ended, the shots were a piece of art that you keep wanting to view more. All establishing shots to the very climax was perfection on a roll. The continuity connected gorgeously and the storyline was perfectly depicted with the least amount of dialogues and the most amount of film on the screen.
- Production: The production for this film had started 6 years back. Barve wrote the script based on a story his friend had told him in 1993. It was a story by a Marathi writer Narayan Dharap. Years later, when he revisited Dharap’s story, he found it “utterly bland, mundane and forgettable”. He said that the story had left an “indelible print, scar on my psyche” which “kept the story alive”. The film was shot by 2012 and after its editing, Barve and Shah realised that the film was “not able to achieve what it set out to do”. It was then re-written and re-shot by Anand Gandhi; the filming completed in May 2015.
- Performances: From Sohum Shah to Harish Khanna, the portrayal of three generations through three chapters in the film has been beautifully adopted by each of the actors. Every single performance is one with justice. The genre that this film follows is a difficult one to acclaim through the art of acting and yet every single actor has probably outdone their own standards of acting through this film.
Tumbbad is a story that leaves you stunned. It leaves you speechless and gives you a wave of realisation on a concept that would otherwise seem “mundane”. The topic of greed being a bad omen has always been around but to portray it the way they did is just a marvel to look at. Not to miss out on how visually stunning the film is, Bollywood has really stacked up it’s cards in 2018 with the releases of movies like these.
I would give this movie 4 stars for the sheer attention to detail, intriguing aspect and the fact that they could keep an entire audience engaged for 2 whole hours over a story based around a myth and one that ends with a moral lesson.
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