The Reel Review
The village of Tumbbad in northwestern India in 1918 is the initial setting for this supernatural horror, about a young boy, Vinayak, who uncovers a mystical demon with the ability to generate unlimited riches, despite spreading bad fortune if even his name is uttered. Over the years, Vinayak returns to amass his wealth – but at a personal price. Tumbbad is based on a story from popular Marathi horror author Narayan Dharap.
Shot over six years, Tumbbad is an impressive looking film, with sweeping cinematography and a compelling score from Jesper Kyd (Assassin’s Creed). It is set to a backdrop of incessant monsoon rains, symbolizing the curse placed upon the region by the demon. Sohum Shah, who also produced the film, is impressive as the protogonist with Mohammad Samad doing double duty as the horrific, evil grandmother and later, as Vinayak’s young son, Pandurang.
The monsters are effective and the film has plenty of scares, but they are nowhere near as horrifying as the human monsters consumed by greed. Blending Indian folklore with modern day visual effects, Tumbbad is a visually dazzling morality tale as old as time.
• Tumbbad was the first Indian film to open the prestigious Venice International Film Festival in 2018.
• You won’t find any reference to the evil demon in the actual city of Tumbbad, consistent with the folklore that his name never be mentioned or written about.
• The mansion mentioned in the film that housed the underground cave and demon is actually located in Saswad, near Pune, and had not been visited in 100 years prior to filming.