There is usually a check-list one maintains in a horror film. Those moments of dread are as important as the build-up and eventual release. Some predictable tropes are also relied upon to get the atmospherics right.
Debut director Rahi Anil Barve’s ‘Tumbbad’ not just ticks all these boxes but goes a step further by never letting its grip on the genre slip.
It excels is in its ability to weave together a formidable canvas with fear, fantasy and folklore blending in seamlessly to give us an unrelenting ominous journey.
Mitesh Shah, Adesh Prasad, Anand Gandhi and Barve masterfully divided the narrative into three parts, introducing us to the mythological story of Hastar. Chapter one begins in 1918.
The rain-soaked Tumbbad is picturesque, but propels a fear of the unknown. Tumbbad opens the window into the life of a widow (Jyoti Malshe), who stays with her two young sons Vinayak and Sadashiv. But there’s more to the house she lives in – an old woman resides in there with fetters on her.
There is some talk of hidden khazaana and Hastar, the greedy son of Devi who was cursed and banished. The incessant sound of rain along with the foreboding tone adds to the sombre mood.
Cinematographer Pankaj Kumar’s palette of light and shadow, with a flickering lantern, imbue the frames with a sense of mystery.
Intricately linked to the proceedings is Chapter Two which takes place 15 years later. The little boy we saw in the earlier chapter is now a grown up man (Soham Shah) who revisits Tumbbad to look for the hidden treasure.
The final chapter takes place 14 years later in now independent India with Vinayak’s (Mohd Samad) son displaying the same rapacious hunger as his father. This is when things becomes infinitely more interesting with the father employing his own son to further his greed for the treasure. The film serves as a parable of greed and human frailty.
Tumbbad also has its fair share of CGI and special effects employed to bring alive the monsters, blood and grizzly visuals. But it is the solid screenplay and performances that make it a thrilling experience.
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