Eros International, Sohum Shah Films, Colour Yellow Productions, Film I Vast &
FilmGate Films present “Tummbad”
Produced by: Amita Shah, Mukesh Shah, Sohum Shah & Aanand L. Rai
Directed by: Rahi Anil Barve, Anand Gandhi (creative director) & Adesh Prasad (co-director)
Written by: Mitesh Shah, Adesh Prasad, Rahi Anil Barve & Anand Gandhi
Starring: Sohum Shah, Ronjini Chakraborty, Harish Khanna, Anita Date, Mohd. Samad, Jyoti Malshe, Dhundiraj Prabhakar Joglekar, Deepak Damle & others
It’s a Mitesh Shah, and Anand Gandhi double bill this week, as they are also co-writers here as well as in “Helicopter Eela.” This time, they get into a different zone: of supernatural/mythical/mythological fantasy cum thriller. Trouble is, if “…Eela” makes no sense, this one tries to hook your senses, but fails miserably! And Mr. Gandhi is “creative” director as well here.
Make no bones about it: “Tumbbad” is one of those films that will get raves (besides the ones it has got already) from two kinds of press – international and Indian ivory tower. In Akshay Kumar’s words many years ago in a different film’s context, “The film got four stars but had as many viewers in the hall!”
Of course, we have had a surfeit of such films of diverse genres in the very recent past – “Love Sonia” that I watched and a couple of others (that I could not and in one standout case dared not)! I assert, however, that they were not for the Indian film buff who watched films more for value-for-money family entertainment with or without a message than to sit on a high-horse and discuss cinema as an art form mixed with technique!
“Tumbbad” (said to denote a place in Konkan-Maharashtra belt) narrates a story of a family that benefits from a curse. The gobbledygook is of a god gone wrong who is cursed to have limitless riches but no food, which he craves for. Human beings who are greedy thus fall prey to his riches.
A whole universe is built around this fable in a forsaken “wada” (traditional mansion) of a family. Vinayak (Dhundiraj Prabhakar Joglekar, and later in grown-up form, Sohum Shah) is the latest generation and is greedy for the riches he knows can be taken from there. This despite losing his younger brother (Mohd. Samad) and his mother (Jyoti Malshe) warning him against returning there when they leave the place after the tragedy.
Later, though he has a good wife (Anita Date), a son (a terrific actor whose name is not seen anywhere) and a mistress (Ronjini Chakraborty), he is not content and even inveigles his friend Raghav (Deepak Damle) into lusting for mammon.
The film can only be said to be a mix of genres, and despite a 113-minute length and its division into “Chapters” seems double the duration due to the ennui it imparts on the unsuspecting viewer, who only expects a new and sensible story base and fresh thrills that can shock and scare. The trailer gives the impression of a horror drama, and addicts of that genre will be deeply disappointed. Yes, it is not clichéd, but then it is not horror either. And the 113-minutes are too tediously excessive to make just one statement: that greed can kill. Sometimes: literally.
Very sketchy redemption comes from the atmospheric but often loud background score (Jesper Kyd) and some occasional brilliance in the technical aspects. The DOP (Pankaj Kumar) and production designers (Nitin Zihani Choudhary and Rakesh Yadav) do a good job, but the DI and VFX often end up monotonous – but then to be candid, this is a directorial gaffe as the rain sequences and views are repeated ad nauseam. The director needs a co-director and creative director to try and make a mark, and it’s a proverbial case of too many cooks. Ah, yes, I forgot! Such pseudo films must have a couple of erotic scenes – after all we must match with the filmmaking Jones’ abroad since we are aiming for festivals.
Sohum Shah aims for authenticity in his make-up et al. but otherwise gives a performance studded with limitations. Anita Date as his wife and the young boy who plays his son make a mark. But like the rest of the performers, the film does not.