One thing that is common during the aggregate movie is the vulnerability, unpredictability, and curiosity that keeps a viewer glued to the screen. It never fails to keep the audience worried about a major mishap that seems to be in store.
Tumbbad is a village in Maharashtra which is cursed by gods and goddesses because the elders of the village once created the temple of “Hastar”, who as per the myth is supposed to be the greediest of the Gods and is damned by all other gods into oblivion. The curse hits the village in the form of ever-falling rain, in which people always seem to be drenched and it gives away a vibe of misery.
The movie is divided into three chapters, thus making it look as if it’s based on one of these English classic novels from the past. It feels as if a book is unfolding in front of your eyes with all its base building on the myth about the world in terms of how it is the womb of the ultimate deity who gave rise to all Gods and Goddesses, how it’s first child Hastar was its most beloved and how it saved Hastar by hiding him in its womb (despite of his greed) from the scourge of its other children whose share of food Hastar was keen to take after taking over all the gold. The main theme revolves around the greed and the depths that it makes one go to (literally too).
The first chapter is a mini horror movie in itself wherein two kids Vinayak (Dhundiraj Prabhakar) and Sadashiv (Rudra Soni) are initially scared to open the lock of the door without their mother (Jyoti Malshe), who is apparently a widow living aloof from the society with a bald head and humble appearance along with her two kids. Immediately it is made clear that they have a grandmother too, who they call “daadi”, but daadi turns out to be a beast who is always hungry and only the mother can feed her and make her go to sleep. They do this to please “Sarkar”, who would pay them “mudra” (gold coins) one day. Things turn very ugly when Sadashiv falls off a tree on a rocky path and the mother has to take him to the healer and only young Vinayak is left to feed daadi and before leaving in hurry, his mother tells him to utter the words “soja warna hastar aayega” to calm daadi down. While young Vinayak is terrified to cook for dadi he starts fumbling across the rice and all of it is spilled and during this arrangement, he’s covered in white wheat.
In the meantime, he hears a tune in daadi’s voice and rushes towards the door of the room where daadi is locked. This is the time when you start rooting for him and praying that he does not open the door. But as hunger for treasure gets the best of him, he opens the door and in a dramatic turn of events, he finds out daadi to be a demon with burnt skin who not on getting any food moves on to eat him while he is trying very hard to remember the words that his mother told him to say. After much struggling and almost being eaten by his very own devilish grandmother, he utters the right words and makes her go to sleep.
After losing her younger son and seeing the disturbing condition of her elder son, the mother immediately leaves Tumbbad for Pune and while they are on their way, she shows her son the gold coin that she has taken finally, and on seeing gold, young Vinayak’s lust for money rises and he tries to convince his mother to go back and start looking for the treasure with a lot of gold coins but all in vain. As a matter of fact he gets beaten up by his mother who asks him to promise her that he’d never return back to Tumbbad.
This marks the end of chapter one and leads us to 15 years later into chapter two, where Vinayak (Sohum Shah) is all grown up returning to Tumbbad, and his exploratory phase begins. He goes back to his old house which is full of cobwebs, tree branches and other mess. He reaches the old room where he founds a beating heart and his daadi’s head, and starts a conversation about the hidden treasure. His demonic daadi confides in him that she wants freedom from the consistent hunger for food and slips away that this is the curse of greed that turned her like that, as she was the fastest who’d climb in and out of the well. She insists him to give up the greed, but as no one has been able to stop Vinayak till then, he moves forth towards the mansion, digs for months altogether and finally stumbles across the much-sought well.
He returns back to Pune, where we get a peek into his personal life. His wife in his absence has started a wheat grinding business and as he gets back, he pays all his debts and becomes instantly rich after selling the gold coins consistently to his former money lender, namely Raghav. The moneylender moves to Tumbbad to satisfy his personal greed and curiosity looking for the tempting treasure, Vinayak deliberately lets Raghav see him coming out of the well with the gold coins and that’s when Raghav goes in thinking Vinayak has left. This is the first time when we have a view of the well, which is like a womb with bloody walls where the deity has hidden Hastar. The moneylender is ignorant and spots a box which has a wheat doll in it. As soon as he picks the wheat-doll up, hastar jumps on him, making him half demon, exactly like Vinayak’s daadi. In the end of this chapter, Vinayak is shown taking the gold coins from hastar’s belt while distracting him with a wheat doll.
The final chapter takes us to fourteen years later in 1947, when Vinayak seems to have lost the hustle, and he is training his son for the treasure. He takes him along and his son turns out to be successful. As the country has achieved independence, now the mansion in Tumbbad goes to the Indian government, due to which Vinayak and his son make a plan take the belt with all the gold from Hastar by making a plan. But the repercussions turn out to be different and it ends on transfer of Hastar’s curse to Vinayak and he gets the curse of the greed. He is turned into a demon but still he has managed to take the loins cloth full of gold from Hastar and offers it to his son, but his son seeing his father in that condition ditches the gold coins, and frees his father from the curse by saying “soja baba, warna hastar aayega” and burning him eventually.
Tumbbad is a well-written and well executed movie with a sort of freshness and thoughtfulness to it. It’s got five writers, and it shows in the storyline which is twisted and thorough yet easy to absorb. The logic does not have a flaw anywhere, everything makes sense, including the music, which gives a connotation to the happenings. One thing that is a drag is the VFX quality, which could’ve been way better, the Hastar VFX looks cartoonish with the current visual effects.
Overall Tumbbad is a very impactful and surprising movie, and despite of its modest VFX, it gets a rating of 4 out of 5. A very intriguing watch indeed!