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Sohum Shah's Tumbbad has its roots deeply embedded in Mahatma Gandhi's famous saying, ''There is a sufficiency in the world for man's need but not for man's greed.' Watching this mysterious journey unfold onscreen is like reliving those childhood days of grandma tales. Only this time, the imagination gets a bit darker.
The film opens in Tumbbad in the year 1918. We are intoduced to Sadashiv Rao and his older brother Vinayak. While their widowed mother (Jyoti Malshe) spends her time tending their grandfather in his crumbling mansion, the boys are seen living in misery in a tiny hut with a chained monster who is none other than their great-grandmother - whom they must feed while she sleeps. She's only scared of one name and that's Hastar.
The backdrop goes like long time ago, the mother goddess had a greedy baby named Hastar, who is cursed never to be workshipped for his misappropriation of gold and food. The Rao family ignores this and builds a shrine to Hastar and his mother. One rainy night on finding himself alone, Vinayak dares to unchain the deadly prisoner to ask her the secret of Hastar's treasure. His greed overpowers him and the young boy vows to return for the gold.
Years pass by and soon, Vinayak now a strong-bodied man with a moustache (Sohum Shah) makes his way back to the family estate and succeeds in learning about Hastar's treasure and the family secret of handling him. Will this greed lead to the path of his destruction? The rest of the plot revolves around this theme.
In Tumbbad, Rahi Anil Barve brings in this unusual blend of horror and fantasy where lust and greed makes monsters out of ordinary men. He effectively builds a sense of dread in the atmosphere without resorting to the clichéd plot tricks.
Speaking about the performance, Sohum Shah does a spectacular job of playing this rogue whose character has more shades of grey than the rainy skies. There are moments where he gives you chills with his act on the celluloid. The rest of the cast too put up a spectacular show.
Tumbbad is largely driven by stunning visuals and that's one of the reasons why your eyes never leave the screen even for a second. Pankaj Kumar's lens take you deep inside Tumbbad's fascinating world and leaves you captivated. Special mention for Nitin Zihani Choudhary and Rakesh Yadav's production design. The CGI is top-notch and makes the film more layered.
Jesper Kyd's soundtrack blends seamlessly with the narrative to make your cinematic experience even more enriching. Mitesh Shah, Adesh Prasad, Anand Gandhi and Barve's writing is fresh and highly imaginative.
Unlike a typical horror film where you have the spirit haunting the protagonist and his family, Tumbbad turns the table with Vinayak exploiting Hastar instead for his insatiable greed. That's exactly what makes the film stand out from the rest. I am going with 3.5 stars here.