What an extraordinary piece! Tumbbad movie is a consequence of superlative imagination. It blends with mythology to create a tale of horror to teach us life’s most valuable lesson. Tumbbad is reflective of exemplary human nature, of how greed swallows a person alive, that one should know better when to end it or it ends up ending you.
For a movie that took a difficult course of time, Tumbbad does remarkably well for itself releasing in a forefront that feels like its very own. Yes, times are changing in India. People are beginning to witness and appreciate this ingenuine paradigm shift in Indian Cinema, giving opportunities to intelligent movies like Andhadhun and shunning dumb mainstream cinema that has forever acted as an underlying inescapable root. It just feels great to be thriving in such times.
The Theme of Tumbbad movie
Tumbbad movie impregnates in such a womb as it takes down the perspective of a common man high on greed. What would you do when you discover a full proof way to earn infinite gold? Wouldn’t you be, I don’t know, all over it? The theme of Tumbbad movie drives itself on it, never losing sight of the mission it wishes to accomplish. Greed is a curse and we are cursed to feel it gnawing into our soul. It is a decision we have to make to look past it, if we really want to have a shot at living or we end up digging further into a web that swallows us whole.
Goes without saying, it is an ingenious thought to have imagined Tumbbad . To bring it to the big screen is an effort per se. Don’t get me even started on its casting or even finding Sohum Shah as the producer. Tumbbad movie was brilliantly crafted with all the resources at hand.
One could not appreciate its writers Mitesh Shah, Adesh Prasad, Rahi Anil Barve, and Anand Gandhi enough. Rahi, Anand, and Adesh who have helmed this concept into cinema did us all a tremendous favour by never letting this story go. Even though it took a lot of time to reach us, what matters, in the end, is that it finally made it.
The Plot of Tumbbad Movie (Spoilers)
The plot of the story primarily explores a man Vinayak (Sohum Shah), who brings gold coins secretively from a village called Tumbbad.
Where is the gold coming from? How is he getting rich?
The cardinal story is kept under the wraps for a majority of its run, mentioned only in passing in its prologue. It keeps you riveted so as to prepare you before dropping the bomb on you.
Vinayak leads a prodigious life, so grand that he even begins to loan money to his loaner Deepak Damle. Curious as to how Vinayak has been coming up with all that insane amount of ‘mudras’, one day Deepak tracks him down to Tumbbad to the dilapidated palace where Vinayak’s secret lurks. Unaware of the fact that Vinayak has already figured out that Deepak is onto him, he decides not to warn him (or the audience for that to matter).
Vinayak, in his brazen contempt for others, so as to keep his secret safe from the world, lets Deepak figure out the big secret himself. He wishes to teach him a lesson. At the same time somewhere deep down he is aware of what’s going to happen.
The Curse of Hastar
So the A-bomb gets dropped on us in sheer pizzazz as we figure out how Vinayak has been ending up with the golden mudras all this time. The lore mentioned in the prologue is of a firstborn of Goddess of Prosperity named Hastar. Even though 16 crore Gods and Goddesses were born after him, Hastar remained to be her favourite.
When the Goddess of Prosperity offered him the ownership of either of the two:
Hastar chose gold. Ergo, he is always hungry. His greed, however, was insatiable as he tried to fight for the ownership of food as well. A fight ensued as all of his 16 crore brothers and sisters united against him. Hastar lost in the end. When they were about to kill him, Goddess of Prosperity intervened and asked for mercy. An agreement was made that he was never to be worshipped and that his name should cease to exist.
How to Trick Hastar
Hastar found refuge in her womb where he was banished to stay forever. So we know that there’s a God (here a demon) named Hastar who is eternally hungry who would literally do anything for food. He has a bag of gold that is forever full, you know, as a metaphor for everlasting fortune.
Now, getting to gold is tricky. Somehow a circle of flour made strong with mantras cannot be broken by Hastar. It is this disadvantage that can be leveraged. So you have to basically walk in with food and offer him so that it distracts Hastar. Then you can grab as many gold coins from his bag as you can before making a run for the exit, as Hastar stays distracted.
Understanding the Beginning
So there lived Hastar in a womb as Vinayak tapped into his existential secret from a certain cursed caretaker who had ended up becoming Hastar’s fodder. The so-called “Dadi” or Grandmother played by Piyush Kaushik tried to bring in horror aplenty to the story right in the very beginning of the Tumbbad movie.
It is assumed that the old man, who we saw being masturbated by Vinayak’s mom in the very beginning was one of those guys who knew about Hastar’s secret. He must have been regularly going down the well and into the womb, to take out coins until one day his body might have failed him.
Why was the grandmother brutally contorted and appeared like some kind of witch?
The answer to this question is that if Hastar bites you, or eats you, you end up becoming a part of Hastar’s curse. You become eternally hungry just like him, also you don’t die. For it is clear when we see Grandmother still alive after 15 years when Vinayak returns to Tumbbad to the same place where he had babysat the Granny. So you are conscious, at the same time, in eternal pain. The only way to escape that hell is through death which can only happen through fire.
Victims of Hastar
There’s a scene where we witness the face of Granny up close. There are nails on her face. People must have tried to kill her in many ways but have failed, later might have accidentally come up with the saying:
Sleep or Hastar will come.
That’s one way to make cursed victims dormant. The mere mention of Hastar scares the bejesus out of its victims and they end up going to sleep at once.
As is obvious, the grandmother might have been saved by the owner of the house, who would have then asked for a caretaker to feed her regularly (here Vinayak’s mom). Thus saving her eventually in the process.
Greed Supersedes Life
Young Vinayak is shown greedy right from the very beginning of the movie. Even after an unfortunate event takes away the life of his brother, he still doesn’t see past his greed. That he has lost something huge doesn’t affect him.
Yes, his mother too wanted to have those golden coins, but she understands it the hard way that greed is not everything. That the presence of fortune in one’s life doesn’t matter if it comes with a horrendous cost like that of losing a child.
To ensure Vinayak understands the very concept of it, she makes him promise her not to go back to Tumbbad as they leave it. Breaking that promise after 15 years, after her mom dies of course, Vinayak ends up being drawn by greed once again. Some people don’t change.
As is depicted earlier despite being afraid of the Granny, young Vinayak still goes to her to garner knowledge about the coins. Even after he is grown up, he revisits the Tumbbad village all by himself. That just goes on to prove there is nothing in the world that could scare a person if he has greed written all over him.
Greed Beats Fear
Greed has blinded him so much that he fails to see the sheer horror that he brings the coins from. Literally tricking a God, a demonic entity, to serve his purpose. He is fighting for his life as he barely escapes making an exit in the nick of time via a rope. The sheer horror of it all! And yet he does it religiously without failing. What makes him do that? Greed is the answer.
So he has been asking his wife to make some dough, add some stones to it so it becomes harder for Hastar to chew upon, and then makes a circle in the center of the womb so the demon doesn’t enter it. He then throws the dough, Hastar goes after it, and as he stays distracted, he grabs as many coins as he can before making a run for it.
It’s like a regular regime and we see him getting insanely rich in no time.
Tumbbad movie becomes all the more interesting as it paces forward. Your head is already trying to reckon what would happen in the long run. What if Vinayak grows old? Enters Vinayak’s son into the equation as he is being trained right from the very beginning on how to steal coins from a statue that looks like Hastar. The child has no idea what he is getting into but is being prepared nevertheless, trained to be a part of someone’s greed.
This part makes you wonder how we subject something similar to our kids. You know, prepare them upfront to fight a battle they have no idea about. Honestly, we prep them up for the sake of our own benefits. We are moulding them, training them through schools and institutes so that one day they become good enough to earn us money.
They have the faintest clue of what they are getting into. They are just bothered about that look of satisfaction in their parent’s eyes the only reason they do what they do.
The Analogy of a Job
There’s disappointment in his father’s orbs as he tries his level best to prove his worth. His innocent eyes are constantly thinking:
How would I make my father happy? Why am I not good enough? What is good enough for father?
Finally, that dreaded day arrives when Vinayak goes low on resources, that it becomes important for him to acquaint his son to the job he does, in order to continue the inflow. The obedient child follows, still hopeful and without a clue about the horrors, he is about to witness.
I can’t help but imagine a child being asked to grow up and start earning for the family. Doing what his father does, make a living. There’s an apparent simile here that cannot be overlooked. Little does he know that he would be slaughtered and butchered by his bosses, a ruthless punishing world that would swallow him whole, and yet he is being thrown into the pit as the real intent is to make a man out of him.
Son’s First Run
His son’s first run happens then as Vinayak fills him in on the details about Hastar. Even though he hasn’t seen the demon in person, the son is pretty hopeful he wouldn’t disappoint his father. Vinayak keeps the first run as practice and so hasn’t brought any dough with him, but his smart ass son ends up sneaking some dough. In his defense, he had no knowledge about the life-threatening ordeal inside.
They narrowly escape as his son grabs up some coins to make his father happy. But is thrashed badly for not listening to his father in the first place. However, the son is a huge hit later on as the father-son duo keep making visits for the golden coins.
Vinayak finally acknowledges his son’s worth appreciating his efforts and the intelligence he retains, even admiring his avarice and lust for it reminds him of himself. The madding desire that he sees in him is like a self-reflection which is appreciated only till the day the son sets his eyes on Vinayak’s girl.
Shortcuts in Life
In midst of one fine day thrashing, his son comes with a brilliant idea of taking enough money all at once instead of scrounging for few coins every now and then. He suggests they go with plenty of dough balls so as to buy enough time to steal all the gold coins from Hastar’s pouch.
Acting upon it instantly the father-son duo reach the womb with a lot of dough balls. But to their surprise, the plan backfires. Hastar multiplies and takes as many forms as there were dough balls. It was something they didn’t foresee and they end up getting stranded in the womb.
The Symbolism of the Multiplication
It is almost as if it is saying that just like how greed multiplies, its consequence too multiplies accordingly. And it’s a neverending cycle of rapacity that only satiates when you decide to get out of that circle. If you don’t, it keeps on spreading its wings as you spread yours.
There are no shortcuts in life. You have to go the hard way sometimes even if it appears punishing. The plan to outsmart Hastar ends up outsmarting them, as the duo end up stranded inside the circle to a leering cavalcade of Hastars.
On seeing no way out, as the son goes for a quick nap, Vinayak ties all the dough on himself and makes a run for it thus diverting all the attack towards him. He gets devoured even though he ends up killing all the Hastars in a single go by forcing them to cross another circle he had created outside the well.
It’s a sad end for Vinayak as he pays the price for his greed at the same time goes for penance eventually. As a lesson learned, we see Vinayak’s son destroying Vinayak’s cadaver with fire after he has turned into one of those cursed disfigured victims of Hastar. The disfigured Vinayak offers gold but the son finally sees past it and for the first time does the right thing.
Sohum Shah as an Actor
It would be hard not to finish this account without talking about Sohum Shah’s acting in the Tumbbad movie. He is hands down brilliant. There is so much confidence seeping through him in his portrayal of Vinayak that he brings to mind an image of Ranveer Singh from Bajirao Mastani. Extraordinary acting by the bloke. He makes his character that of a tweener, something you can hate and love at the same time.
If you take a good look at Tumbbad movie, Sohum is one of the major driving forces that take the movie forward. His acting is really intense and sets a benchmark that’s hard to beat. Lost in his character, he brings just the right expressions that dictate the mood. He is impactful with his words and executes them in a deafening roar. Just the right actor who could have done a character like that of Vinayak justice.
Places, where the Tumbbad movie fails to score, is the creation of its characters. They are all paper-thin. You sense of a lack of emotions in a lot of places. It is as if it is all happening in a different world, away from this one. Most of the shots are very close to the body forcing you to see only what needs to be shown.
Then there is that being afraid quotient. Even when we see them facing real horror none of the characters in the movie are really scared. However dreadful the milieu was created, it ended up becoming not so. There was something missing in the child’s perspective that the filmmakers failed to understand.
For instance, you take Vinayak’s son into account, he is only terrified for a moment. For a kid that age it would have been absolutely heart-numbing or even next to impossible to face a demon. Yet he does so as if he weren’t a child. Same goes for young Vinayak when he was about to face the Grandmother. The horror in that portion, even though had a great build up, wasn’t leveraged to the maximum.
Music and Cinematography of Tumbbad Movie
Tumbbad movie hires Jesper Kyd, the legendary composer for its music. The score produced is absolutely ravishing. Horror finds a direction owing to Jesper’s brilliant compositions. They are terrifying at times, so powerful to jump scare you out of your seats. At the same time, they are also very soothing when it is gelling up with the story and helping it to move forward.
At every juncture, however, you feel it play. Kyd’s music is so prominent that it aggrandizes the story giving it a palpable form that it needs.
Then there is the stunning cinematography of Tumbbad that is top-notch throughout. Some of the scenes are so brilliant that it picks you up and places you directly in the village. They are quite coarse and exhume a naturalistic feel.
The Final Verdict
Tumbbad movie is part horror and part mytho woven gorgeously to teach us a lesson. Apart from being what it already is, the movie forces you to think how it relates to our lives so much.
The period thriller compels us to compare it with our lives. It is hard not to tack it against reality. With the chore of getting a gold coin, being a pain-inflicting job one has to go to every day, the movie forces you to reflect on what we are doing on a day to day basis.
If we strive for more, we will have to face its repercussions. There should be no greed dictating our gait. Our primal focus should be not on the materialistic world but on all the things that supersede it. Be it be a life, emotions or health. Hold them close together and let go of this yearning to have more. Coz nothing remains!
Tumbbad movie is one of a kind, a rare original gem that Indian Cinema has produced. It has a plot that would forever play in your head and you would be constantly finding yourself discussing it with your peers. It’s just that powerful!
Check out the trailer of Tumbbad movie: