Fantastic Fest: “Tumbbad” Review – One festival film not to be missed
By Liz Lopez
The Indian horror film, “Tumbbad,” made its U.S. debut at Fantastic Fest in Austin and it is a film I would really like to scream out loud about so it won’t be missed, but I will try to write about it with as few spoilers as possible. Directed by Rahi Anil Barve, Anand Gandhi and Adesh Prasad, based on a script the three wrote along with Mitesh Shah, this drama/horror/thriller begins with a small family of three that clearly has challenges with poverty and many things that remain unspoken among them. After a tragedy hits the family home, the elder son, Vinayak (Sohum Shah), makes a promise to his mother after she is pleading with him. As the film progresses, the viewers will see what life choices Vinayak makes and how it impacts his future and that of the next generation.
Shah’s performance is dynamic as Vinayak, a man on a mission, enthusiastic as he approaches Tumbbad, the town with the manor that has always piqued his curiosity. He is consumed by his desire to get what he wants regardless the price he has to pay for it. There are plenty of scenes to show the viewer just how lavish Vinayak’s lifestyle becomes. Never boring, by the time Vinayak has become a father, the action is ramped up and horror fans will sit on the edge of their seats.
The film is set during the time of the British colonialism. Clearly during those decades, women were disrespected, from the young boy’s actions with their mothers, to adult men always unwilling to hear anything the women have to say. It was more than once that a woman was told to shut up in one way or another. Is it any wonder the best laid plans the men arrange for themselves seem to fail?
The film does fall into the genre, but has limited gore and does not depend on creaking doors as much as they could have with so many scenes in the manor.
The filmmakers do not stray away from the use of entertaining visuals, with the use of trees, wheat, and images of characters from the stories heard as a child. I am not sure if I will ever see a doll shaped wheat pastry the same though!
Cinematographer Pankaj Kumar does an excellent job with work in both small and vast locations as the story of Vinayak’s journey over the course of several decades.
The film’s 108-minute runtime never is boring and it becomes more engaging as the visits to the manor continue. The film is scheduled to be released in India around mid- October and hopefully a theatrical release in the U. S. in the not too distant future. Read here for more updates from this Fantastic Fest film.
Source: Fantastic Fest