For those who haven’t seen ‘Tumbaad’ yet, why the hell you haven’t? This article contains spoilers. If you read further, the wrath of Hastar shall seek vengeance upon you! For the rest, well, you are already cursed by Hastar, aren’t you? Go on, then…
Greed. The sin that pays. And it makes people pay too. Sometimes with their lives. Human nature, the ficklest of all of God’s creation, often finds itself in the crossroads of life. On one path, strewn around are countless thorns, hardships and obstacles. The other path is rosy and seemingly easy. The fickle mind always chooses the later one. That’s the road of greed. Easy, quick and dangerous, often leading to annihilation. ‘Tumbaad’ tells the story of greed and how human nature falls for it, despite being aware of its ultimate outcome. More than the story, it’s a straightforward nod to the undying desire for something that forces men to commit the undesirable.
The world of ‘Tumbaad’ unfurls in parts, across three generations of a family, with the legend of the mythical god Hastar, or he who shall not be named, for taking the name is akin to inviting him into lives. The story begins with his legend. Hastar was the firstborn of the goddess who created the world and sixteen crore gods and goddesses. Greed made him grab the purse of unlimited wealth. But when he tried to fetch the bag of grains, the rest of his brothers and sisters attacked him. Love for her first born, made the goddess place the mortally wounded Hastar back into her womb. To save him, the ultimate price had to be paid. He was never to be worshipped. Hastar’s name was wiped out of every chronicle, every scripture. With time, everyone forgot him.
Well, not everyone.
A Konkanasth Brahmin family, in a remote village of Tumbaad, didn’t forget this cursed god. They made a temple and found a way to reap wealth from him. Angered by this, rest of the gods cursed Tumbaad to drown in incessant rains. When the last patriarch of this family died without leaving a single penny to his descendants, it looked like the secret of the unlimited wealth got lost. Until the prodigal son returned to Tumbaad, after fourteen years.
‘Tumbaad’ boasts of a fantastic cinematography, etched upon a vast canvas, in a myriad of colours. Be it the incessantly rainy terrain of the village or the constantly changing landscape of a country on the verge of independence or the blood red womb of the goddess in which Hastar remains trapped, every frame looks like a masterpiece. The story constantly shifts between the dilapidated Wada at the Tumbaad village and the flourishing town of Pune. Every scene, each artefact, be it an old gramophone, or an ancient lock and key set has been perfected with great measure. The attention to detail is so perfect that in moments the audience is taken back to a time, which only exists now in tales.
An amalgamation of fantasy, horror and mythology, ‘Tumbaad’ is rich in the storytelling. Spanning from 1918 to 1947, it tells its story, often connecting it to the changing times. We see the world of the Rao family, where the patriarch lives in the mansion/Wada but his family lives in shambles, like outcasts. It’s never made clear, whether the woman taking care of the patriarch is the wife or his mistress. Perhaps this made a deep impact on a young Vinayak, as we see him walking on similar steps as he grows old. Wealth brings him prosperity, fame and he spends them on women and narcotics. He is a chauvinistic alpha male who likes to keep his women under control. He even smirks at the idea of independence giving liberty and equality to women of the country. He is a greedy despicable man who needs only one thing in life – wealth. His greed, which is apparently hereditary, flows down to his son, as well. And he’s okay with it. Vinayak reeks of the toxic masculinity that’s so prevalent in the society.
Hastar, the crown prince of greed, is a difficult demon to please. As per the legend, he had acquired wealth but couldn’t do the same to crops. His insatiable hunger can be quenched by a doll, made of wheat. And when he’s busy eating, his purse spills gold coins. Hastar’s curse is an allegory of human nature. In the tryst of wealth, we often forget the most basic needs. And when the time comes, it becomes evident that even gold coins are a mere piece of metal, if they cannot get your food. In a way, we all have a Hastar lurking inside us. Materialistic pleasures have made us forget the simple joys of life. Greed, the great corruptor of the human psyche, has consumed all of us. The more we get, the more we seek. Greed is born out of greed. Thus we all are the living manifestations of Hastar. The climax is built on this premise.
Watching ‘Tumbaad’ is an arresting experience. It completely engulfs you within its narrative. Shout out goes to the entire team of Rahi Anil Bharve, Anand Gandhi, Adesh Shah, Mitesh Shah, Sohum Shah who plays Vinayak, Ajay-Atul for that haunting soundtrack, Jesper Kyd for that unforgettable score and last but not the least, Pankaj Kumar, the man behind the camera for the grandeur on screen.
The labour of six long years has finally paid off brilliantly. Bravo, what a film!