Tumbbad

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Tumbbad
Tumbbad poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRahi Anil Barve
Adesh Prasad
Produced bySohum Shah
Aanand L. Rai
Mukesh Shah
Amita Shah
Screenplay byMitesh Shah
Adesh Prasad
Rahi Anil Barve
Anand Gandhi
StarringSohum Shah
Music byAjay-Atul
Jesper Kyd
CinematographyPankaj Kumar
Edited bySanyukta Kaza
Production
company
Eros International
Sohum Shah Films
Colour Yellow Productions
Film I Vast
FilmGate Films
Distributed byEros International
Release date
  • October 12, 2018 (2018-10-12)
(theatrical release)
Running time
104 minutes
CountryIndia
LanguageHindi
Budget₹5 crore[1]
Box office₹13.57 crore[2]

Tumbbad is a 2018 Indian Hindi-language period horror film directed by debutant Rahi Anil Barve and co-directed by Adesh Prasad. Written by Barve, Prasad, Mitesh Shah and Anand Gandhi, who also served as the creative director, the film was produced by Sohum Shah, Aanand L. Rai, Mukesh Shah and Amita Shah. Starring Shah in the lead role, it follows the story of Vinayak Rao (Shah) who goes on to search for a hidden treasure in the 19th century Maharashtra. Pankaj Kumar served as the director of photography while Sanyukta Kaza was its editor. The original score was composed by Jesper Kyd while Ajay-Atul composed one song.

Barve started writing the script based on a story by Marathi writer Narayan Dharap his friend had told him in 1993. He wrote the first draft in 1997, when he was 18 years old and from 2009 to 2010, he created a 700 page storyboard for the film. It went on the floor for three times and was opted from seven production companies who backed out. It was first shot in 2012 but after the editing, Barve and Shah did not feel satisfied. The film was then re-written and re-shot and the filming completed in May 2015.

Tumbbad premiered in the critics' week section of the 75th Venice International Film Festival, becoming the first Indian film to be screened there. It was also screened at the 2018 Fantastic Fest, Sitges Film Festival, the Screamfest Horror Film Festival, the El Gouna Film Festival, 23rd International Film Festival of Kerala, Morbido Film Fest and Brooklyn Horror Film Festival. It was released on 12 October, 2018 to mostly positive reviews with critics praising the visuals. Made on a production budget of ₹5 crore, the film grossed a total of ₹13.57 crore at the box office, making it a profitable venture.

Plot

In 1947, Vinayak Rao tells his 14-year-old son Pandurang about the Goddess of Prosperity who gave birth to 160 million gods, but Hastar was her first and most beloved offspring who was greedy for all the gold and food. The other gods attacked Hastar, but the goddess saved him on the condition that he could never be worshipped and would be forgotten by history. Vinayak's mother serves the local lord Sarkar in his mansion, including offering sexual services, hoping to acquire a single gold coin kept with his Hastar statue. Vinayak and his brother Sadashiv worry about having to feed the monstrous old woman who is their grandmother and is chained in a separate room. Sarkar later dies and the mother proposes finally leaving Tumbbad for Pune, but Vinayak insists on finding the treasure that is rumored to be hidden somewhere in the mansion. Sadashiv becomes badly hurt after falling from a tree, forcing Mother to take him for help. Mother tells Vinayak he will have to feed his grandmother. She also warns that if the old woman wakes up, Vinayak should say the name Hastar to make her sleep. Sadashiv dies on the way to the doctor.

Mother directs her carriage driver to Sarkar's mansion where she retrieves the gold coin. The monstrous old woman attacks and shackles Vinayak who eventually remembers Hastar's name and uses it to make her fall asleep. Desperate to escape his life of poverty, Vinayak returns to Tumbbad and the old woman warns him he will be cursed to become a monster like her if he touches the treasure. The old woman ultimately explains that the well leads to the goddess womb where Hastar dwells. Although Hastar stole the goddess gold, he was unable to acquire her grain. Therefore he desires flour. Vinayak physically trains to climb up and down a long rope and makes dolls out of dough to lure Hastar inside the goddess womb. While Hastar is distracted by the food, Vinayak swipes at Hastar's loincloth containing the gold. Vinayak regularly repeats the procedure to steal dropped coins. He offers his first gold coin to opium merchant Raghav to pay off a debt. Each time he needs more money, Vinayak returns to Tumbbad to steal from Hastar.

Raghav openly wonders about the treasure rumored to exist in the Tumbbad mansion while also questioning why Vinayak can only retrieve a few coins at a time. Sergeant Cooper pressures Raghav about acquiring his opium den permit per a previous arrangement they made. Vinayak and his wife give birth to their son Pandurang. When Sergeant Cooper gives him only two days to come through, Raghav sells his widowed daughter-in-law to Vinayak as a mistress who confesses to Vinayak that Raghav paid her to make sure Vinayak stays in Pune for two days. Vinayak follows Raghav to the Tumbbad mansion and tricks him into descending into Hastar’s well who later viciously attacks Raghav and kills him. Vinayak later takes Pandurang to Tumbbad for stealing. Once in the womb, Pandurang reveals that he brought a dough doll with him. Hastar unexpectedly attacks. While his father is only concerned with escaping, Pandurang manages to steal several coins. Vinayak and Pandurang make it to safety, though Vinayak chides his son for nearly getting them killed. Vinayak and Pandurang make dozens of dough dolls for distracting Hastar before returning to the well. However, the two of them become trapped inside the goddess’ womb when a separate Hastar appears for each one of the dolls they brought. With no other hope of escaping, Vinayak ties the dolls to his body to act as bait. Vinayak climbs the rope. Dozens of Hastars burst into flames as they come into contact with the protection circles while pursuing him. Once the coast is clear, Pandurang climbs back up to the surface. Pandurang finds his father mutated into a monstrous form outside the mansion. Vinayak presents the stolen loincloth, but Pandurang refuses to take it. Sobbing at seeing what his father turned into, Pandurang reluctantly sets Vinayak on fire.

Cast

  • Sohum Shah as Vinayak
  • Mohammad Samad as Pandurang, Vinayak's son
  • Harish Khanna as Samsthanik
  • Ronjini Chakraborty as Vinayak's mistress
  • Anita Date as Vinayak's wife
  • Jyoti Malshe as Vinayak and Sadashiv's Mother
  • Dhundiraj Prabhakar Joglekar as Young Vinayak
  • Deepak Damle as Raghav, Vinayak's friend
  • Rudra Soni as Sadashiv, Vinayak's young brother
  • Madhav Hari Josh as Sarkar
  • Cameron Anderson as Cooper
  • Piyush Kaushik as Vinayak's grandmother (monstrous old woman)

Production

Development

Rahi Anil Barve said that the title is derived from Shripad Narayan Pendse's marathi novel Tumbadche Khot.[3] He had written the first draft in 1997, when he was 18 years old. From 2009 to 2010, he created a 700 page storyboard within 8 months, which he said was the "anchor on which everything was based."[4] Barve wrote the script based on a story his friend had told when they were in the Nagzira in 1993. It was a story by Marathi writer Narayan Dharap. Years later, when he revisited Dharap's story, he found it "utterly bland, mundane and forgettable". He said that the story had left an "indelible print- no, scar on my psyche" which "kept the story alive".[5] Barve took the basic premise of the story about a scheming moneylender, and another of his works, about a girl who is left alone with her grandmother when the latter gets possessed by a demon, and started writing a screenplay.[6] He managed to get a producer who backed out in 2008. In the monsoon of 2012, he managed to get finances and the principal photography started. The film has minimal dialogues and was shot with constant physical movement with few cuts.[3] Sohum Shah gained 8 kilogram's of weight for the role.[7] Since the production took six years, Shah maintained his role's look for that entire period.[8] Shah said that he was surprised after hearing the story because he "hadn’t seen anything like this in Indian cinema"[9] He found it similar to Baital Pachisi and Panchatantra.[10] Barve said that the main theme of the story was greed. He said that the first half of the film is in the "universe of Dharap's stories".[11] The film shows Hastar, who, according to Hindu mythology was banished to the womb of the mother goddess for being greedy for food and gold.[11] The film is divided in three chapters which Barve said was also a metaphor for the "journey of India, as we see it today."[11] It had gone on the floor for three times and was opted from seven production companies who backed out as Barve feels he had "no frame of reference for them, nothing like Tumbbad had even been tried before."[11] Shah worked on his Marathi diction and accent since the character of Vinayak was a Marathi.[12] Anand Gandhi served as the co-writer, creative director and executive producer.[13] The screenplay was written by Barve, Prasad, Mitesh Shah and Gandhi.[14]

Filming

Tumbbad first went on floor in 2008 with Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the lead role, but was quickly shelved as the producer backed out.[6] It was then shot in 2012 after Shah and Gandhi came on board. The film has minimal dialogues and was shot with constant physical movement with few cuts.[3] After the editing, Barve and Shah realised that the film was "not able to achieve what it set out to do". He said, "we shot in the rain at age-old locations, where no human had ventured for at least a 100 years. For me, Tumbbads locations, the feel of its stuffy air, and the lonely rainy atmosphere that defies the feeling of time’s passage is as central as its characters."[3] It was then re-written and re-shot and the filming completed in May 2015.[15][16] The Mutha river at the Onkareshwar area was taken as a reference for the set creation. In three weeks, the set of the small town around the temple were recreated.[17] A doppelganger set of an old Pune city was created for the film. Shah wore the typical attire worn by Konkanasth Brahmans in Maharashtra.[18] It was shot in natural light.[4] Some scenes were also shot in Mahabaleshwar.[6] The visual effects were done by Sean Wheelan's team at Filmgate Films, who are also the co-producers.[15] Pankaj Kumar served as the director of photography and Sanyukta Kaza edited the film.[19] Kumar had shot Barve's short film Manjha in 2006 and got to know about Tumbbad's story from Barve.[20] Barve created a story book for the reference. Kumar called the filming process as "long, strong and intense".[20] The film's look was decided to be "moody and gloomy"; the village had to look timeless "without a clear demarcation between day and night." The film was shot without any sunlight.[20] It was shot on Red Camera in digital format. Kumar wanted the film to be shot only during the monsoon with constant rain as he wanted a feeling of "wetness at all times": "We wanted the audience to feel drenched when they came out of the theatres."[20] However, due to shortage of rainfall that year, Kumar did not get sufficient actual rain. The crew used artificial rain for the scenes and had to wait for hours just to get a cloud cover.[20] Tumbbad was shot in several location across Maharashtra including Saswad and villages of Satara district. Parts were shot on constructed sets in Mumbai, including the womb sequence. Kumar said that the team did extensive recce for a few years as they were looking for "large landscapes without modern infringements, without towers and structures." They also did not have the budget for the visual effects to erase the contemporary architectural elements.[20] The film had four colour schemes including blue, cold grey, red and gold. 50 lanterns and lamps were used for several scenes as they wanted to avoid the modern day lighting techniques since it was a period film.[20] The scenes inside the womb took 15 to 20 days to shoot without any visual effects. The character of Hastar was created with heavy prosthetic makeup that required six to seven hours to prepare.[20] Shah wore contact lenses throughout the film for the grey eyes. The entire film was shot over 100 to 120 days in four shooting schedules in 2012 and 2015. After the shoot, the team felt that the film was "halfway there" from becoming something that the "audiences hadn’t seen before." After that the script went through re-writing, some scenes were added and the story was "enhanced." The sets were rebuilt and the womb was added.[20] The film's production designer were Nitin Zihani Choudhary and Rakesh Yadav. For the research, they used photograph's from the 18th and 19th century during the British Raj.[21] The interiors of the cave were shot at the Purandare Wada near Pune.[21] It was made to look old and "consumed by earth"; the crew spread moss all over the place. An entire market was created at Satara that included several shops, but it was not used much in the film.[21] The alive breathing heart in a scene was created using practical effects.[21] The film's post-production took two-and-a-half years to finish.[22] It's initial runtime was close to 200 minutes which was edited to 100 minutes.[23] Kumar said that the entire shooting schedule of the film was around lights. He said the constant rain and grey tone gave a "constant sense of gloom and dread."[24] The film's climax inside the womb was shot with only one source of light, an oil lamp.[24] The film was produced by Filmi Vast and Filmgate Films along with Eros International and Aanand L. Rai's Colour Yellow Productions.[25]

Music

The title track of Tumbbad was composed, arranged and produced by Ajay−Atul while the lyrics was written by Raj Shekhar. It was released on 9 October, 2018.[26] The original score was composed by Jesper Kyd. Prasad was sampling music pieces from several composers when he heard the soundtrack "Apocalypse" from the 2006 video game Hitman: Blood Money which was composed by Kyd and decided to work with him.[27] Kyd felt that the team of Tumbbad wanted the soundtrack to be between western and Indian sound.[27]

Prasad sent Kyd a sample of Laxmikant–Pyarelal's track from Ram Lakhan (1989) for reference; Kyd also watched videos of street drummers and The Sinful Dwarf (1973).[27][28] Kyd recorded the choir with a Bulgarian music called "Descending" which was the first track he wrote for the film.[27] Both Prasad and Kyd used to interact with each other through Skype.[27] The score involved live recording through Cello and Violin as well as the real sound of crickets.[28] Kyd made three different kind of sounds for the three parts of the film.[28] The album consisted of 22 tracks and was released on 18 November, 2018.[29]

Track listing
No.TitleLength
1."The Birth of Hastar"3:12
2."Rains of Tumbbad"2:16
3."Grandmother's Meal"1:53
4."Secrets"2:30
5."Feeding the Witch"3:50
6."Opportunities"2:03
7."The Greed Manifests"2:47
8."Descending"2:54
9."The Wife"1:06
10."The Box is Opened"1:25
11."Hastar"4:32
12."Happy Ever After"2:30
13."Telefon"1:02
14."Driving in the Rain"1:51
15."The Initiation"2:16
16."Chocolate Coins"1:32
17."The Mistress"0:35
18."Vinayak's Treasure Box"1:30
19."Family Business"3:05
20."The Showdown"3:17
21."The Final Choice"1:56
22."The Goddess"3:10
Total length:51:00

Release

Tumbbad premiered in the critics' week section of the 75th Venice International Film Festival, becoming the first Indian film to be screened there.[30] It was also screened at the 2018 Fantastic Fest, Sitges Film Festival, the Screamfest Horror Film Festival, the El Gouna Film Festival, 23rd International Film Festival of Kerala, Morbido Film Fest and Brooklyn Horror Film Festival.[31][32][33][34][35][36] Gajjar Parth won the Best visual effects and the Best Film award at the Screamfest International Film Festival.[37] Pankaj Kumar won the Best Cinematography award & Rahi Anil Barve, Adesh Prasad and Anand Gandhi won the Asia Focus Award at Sitges Film Festival.[31] Before its release, a special screening of the film was held by Anand L. Rai on 4 October. It was attended by the film's team and several other filmmakers.[38] It was released on 12 October, 2018 on 575 screens.[39] It is also available at Amazon Video in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu language.[40]

Reception

Critical response

Tumbbad opened to mostly positive reviews from critics. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, it holds an approval rating of 89% based on 18 reviews, with an average rating of 7.4/10.[41] Rachit Gupta of The Times of India called the film "moody and atmospheric" and said that fans of Hollywood horror films will be reminded of Pan's Labyrinth (2006) and Eraserhead (1977).[42] Baradwaj Rangan wrote: "It’s been a while since something (apparently) genre-based turned out so rich and mysterious, so defiantly its own thing."[43] Raja Sen called the film "an ambitious one, artistic and attentively made, reminding me of the trippystylings of filmmaker Tarsem Singh.[44] Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express called it "highly unusual, visually stunning, richly atmospheric concoction of genres and themes."[45]

Sanjukta Sharma of Scroll.in felt the film subverts genres "astutely, without any gimmicks": "It has been a while since a horror film spoke so eloquently about something as primal as greed and remained true to its Indian (Marathi) setting."[46] Udita Jhunjhunwala of Mint cited the film as "eerie, imaginatively designed, stunningly filmed and well directed."[47] Anupama Chopra felt the film was nothing like "you have seen before in hindi cinema." She also called it "the most visually stunning film I've seen since Padmaavat (2018)".[48] Subhash K. Jha praised the visuals and wrote: "If you think cinema is predominantly a visual medium then don't miss Tumbbad.[49] Sreehari Nair of Rediff.com observed that "our apprehensions are raised lazily and we wait like masochists for the manipulations to arrive, but what we get instead is a single-line moral."[50] Namrata Joshi gave a positive review and wrote: "The atmosphere, landscape, and themes in ‘Tumbbad’ are accentuated by a sense of Gothic dread and an eerie expectancy of the diabolical."[51]

Suparna Sharma of Deccan Chronicle noted that the film has "the beauty and horror of imagination, and it stalks you gently, long after you’ve left the theatre."[52] Shilpa Jamkhandikar of Reuters said that the "true star here is Barve, who takes what could have been a regular horror film and elevates it to another level."[53] Stutee Ghosh of The Quint wrote: "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."[54] Anna M. M. Vetticad wrote: "The joy of watching Tumbbad comes from the fact that Barve and his co-writers offer no answers, making this a delightfully intriguing film."[55] Rajeev Masand called it "a wildly original film with a look and feel that is of the highest standard."[56] Jai Arjun Singh called the film "spooky, majestic and affecting, and these qualities come from the set design, the use of music, and the evocation of a place that is like a breathing thing, corroding the thoughts and actions of the people in it."[57]

Lee Marshall of Screen International called it an "initially atmospheric yarn let down by weak stock characters and a long veer into fright-free period drama in its over-long middle section."[58] Deborah Young of The Hollywood Reporter called the film "atmospheric, heavy on mythology and scary as hell."[19] J. Hurtado of Screen Anarchy gave a positive response and wrote: "A slow burn whose finale is wonderfully unexpected and yet fitting, Tumbbad is a great film and hopefully the start of a new trend in India."[59] He also included it in his list of 14 Favorite Indian Films of 2018.[36] Mike McNulty of The London Economic felt that the film "throws to Guillermo del Toro's brand of filmmaking" and the directors "manage to satisfyingly marry together the worlds of the real and the unreal."[60]

Jonathan Barkan of Dread Central wrote that the film "is more focused on the horror of human behavior than it is on creaking doors and the terror of what lurks in the dark." He also felt that the film's second half was "overly drawn out".[61] Matt Donato of /Film wrote: "Mad creature-feature designs, Academy-worthy blends of color and pristine optical packaging, despicable character work meant to provoke heartlessness traded for materialistic grandiosity – Tumbbad is a full genre package seasoned with a pungent foreign kick."[62] Gautaman Bhaskaran of CNN-News18 called it "undoubtedly well made, with fine pieces of acting to suit the period it is set it."[33] Trace Thurman of Bloody Disgusting wrote in his review: "With a compelling story of greed that spans more than 30 years, a memorable monster and some truly beautiful cinematography, Tumbbad is not to be missed."[63] Jacob Trussell of Film School Rejects called the film "Indian folk horror at its finest" that offers "an Indian film about Indian culture, removed of the trappings of the musical and replaced with stories of little known Indian theology."[64]

Box office

Tumbbad was made on a production budget of 5 crore (US$700,000).[1] It collected 65 lakh (US$90,000) in its opening day at the box office.[65] The collection increased after positive word of mouth and the film earned 1.15 crore (US$160,000) on its second and 1.45 crore (US$200,000) on its third day, making a total of 3.25 crore (US$450,000) during the first weekend.[66] At the end of its first week, the film earned a total of 5.85 crore (US$810,000), it was followed by 8.99 crore (US$1.3 million) in its second week and 10.14 crore (US$1.4 million) in its second week.[67] At the end of its nine week theatrical run, Tumbbad earned a total of 13.57 crore (US$1.9 million) at the box office.[2]

Sequel

In November 2018, a sequel was announced with the title Tumbbad 2, starring Shah with a different plot.[68]

References

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