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Tumbbad Movie Review: You Will Never See Anything Like Tumbbad Again!

Subhash K . Jha

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Tumbbad

Tumbbad

Starring Sohum Shah, Mohd Samad

Directed  by Rahi Anil Barve, Anand Gandhi

Rating: **** ½(4 and a half stars)

 What on earth is this? This….this….magnificent creature masquerading as  a movie  haunts  your senses  for long after  the  closing images of raging  destruction in  the stunning finale

Little wonder that  the  incredible Anand Gandhi who  created—no,  I won’t use the mundane  word ‘made’—the  astonishing The Ship Of Theseus, is closely associated with Tumbbad. The visual imagery of this film  is  incomparable . Perhaps SanjayLeela Bhansali on  a particularly anxious night, would think up the visual language of Tumbbad. Raging and divine, Tumbbadlooks  like  a universe that  God created and forgot to put on the human map.

 Feverish and fertile,this is a work of luminous lunacy.  A parable on greed, lust and lustful greed this  magical mystical film weaves layer after layer of drama  based on illusion, subterfuge  and self-delusion.

The   vortex of the  violently  intense drama are two  anti-heroes: greed and a man called  Vinayak who fornicates (in a  manner of speaking) with an evil God.And if that strikes  you as an  oxymoron , then be prepared  for  more  of  the same.Tumbbad  offers a tumble of  overweening contradictions . It captures of chaos of a world  governed by greed and the rapidfallof  a  man who knows no other God larger than greed.

Based  on  a  folklore  about a banished blacklisted God and a man who thinks gold coins are  all  one needs  to be happy,  the plot  creates a  blinding blur  at the borderline between  Good and Evil. This is a world ruled by  the  craziness  of  a rudderless God. Repeatedly we see Vinayak spiraling down a dark sinister well, the most frightening descent into a man-made hell I’ve seen in  cinema.

Co-directors Anand Gandhi and Rahi Anil Barve have dared to enter a world that on paper seems impossible to  render visually. Yet,they’ve done it!  A large  share of the  credit for  the film’s visual resplendence must go to  cinematographerPankaj Kumar (who also  shot The Ship Of Theseus). To  translate  into  visual terms  the  devastating  images  of  satanic hankering  seems  like  an impossible  feat. Just how  he film’s visual magnificence  is achieved  is  a thing to  behold, beyond any  attempt to define or explain.

 Tumbbad is shot in rain-infested ruins that manifest the dismantling depravity of  a civilization on the brink of a moral  breakdown.Standing at the centre of this universe of damnation  is  Vinayak performed with such brutal  brilliance  by SohumShah. Is  he not  among the  finest  contemporary actors  of India? To handle with such ferocious  fluency the  diabolic complexities of a character so steeped  in greed … and then there  is  little Mohd Samad as Vinayay’s son.The young actor  is required to express an overweening desire to  grow into negative adult emotions without losing his character’s innate  innocence.

Shah and Samad are  jointly exceptional.  But the  film has many other heroes. The bleak  landscape bleeds a monsoonal  tragedy suggesting ruin and  diabolism, Ajay-Atul’s background score is so evocative and  articulate , easily the  best I’ve heard  in a recent Indian  film. But above all this film is a writing triumph. It wrenches  the supernatural genre  from its  roots and  transports it into a land  so eerie and enchanting, I felt I was suspended between a startled sigh and a satisfied swoon.

If  you think cinema  is predominantly a visual medium then don’t miss Tumbbad. It creates  images  of darkness and  despair with the ripe immediacy of  tree laden with fruits .Fruits that  you may  perhaps never taste again.

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