Tumbbad is a film that grabs hold and pulls you in from the get go. An elegantly-terrifying gem at this year’s Fantastic Fest, this film was a complete surprise and is a straight up transportive and triumphant experience.
Tumbbad tells a sweeping epic story across generations. It explores rites of passage, inescapable destiny and the depths of greed.
Without giving too much away, the story focuses on Vinayak, who we first get to know as a youth assisting in care for his great grandmother, a cursed, mad wretch who is only controlled through timely feedings, and a warning of a greedy god named Hastar. Both things seem to keep the old woman from straight-up eating her whole family.
When Vinayak inherits ancestral mansion, he returns to Tumbbad as an adult, with greed and a plan to satisfy said greed. Not fully realizing the complexities and dangers that he has unwittingly become part of, by entering the Goddesses womb.
Tumbbad is deeply rooted in India’s folklore. In particular, it focuses on The Goddess of Plenty, who gave birth to millions of gods during the creations of the universe. Despite the fact that she had so many children she loved Hastar the most, since he was her first-born.
In the case of most spoiled brats, Hastar became a little too greedy, leading to his near death at the hands of the other gods and his eventual saving grace given to him by his mother who took him and placed him back in her womb. Part, protection, part exile, Hastar remained in the Womb of the Goddess.
The film is broken into three parts, each soaked with atmospheric terror and filled with quiet menace. Tumbbad explores the nature of greed in both its portrayal of Hastar and Vinayak, and goes even further by holding the mirror up to the greed of India’s colonialism at the time by way of the British Raj.
The cinematography, is gorgeous and is an experience that should be seen on the big screen to get the full effect. It’s rare that something comes together as well as the trifecta of score, direction and scope does, but Tumbbad manages to create something really special, while making sure to keep things nice and horrifying along the way.
The VFX in this one are outstanding as well, crafting memorable creations in the forms of the great grandmother, in the evil Hastar and the textural inevitability of the womb. The final act of the film brilliantly combines CG with the practical to produce one of the most jaw dropping finales I have seen recently.
The story heavily relies on it’s lead actor, Soham Shan, who does a fantastic job of exuding enough charisma into the role that we are never not on his side, despite some of his greed based choices. Shan, is an actor that has the range to cover the spectrum and he does in his role as Vinayak.