OUR CRITIC’S Beauty and horror of imagination stalks you
Imagination is a fascinating thing. It can conjure up and create a world we can visit, inhabit anytime, anywhere, with someone we know or create. It’s like a vacation house we take flight to, when the reality gets too much, or too dull. Or, well, just for our jollies. Here we can be what we want, do what we want, stay for as long as we want.
We all live a bit in these imagined spaces, adding to the story, taking it further, introducing twists, characters, scenarios. Some of these are completely our own, while others date back to a story someone read to you, or you read and visualised yourself.
Imagine if someone were to recreate your imagined world, complete with its characters, colours, stories and all the emotions attached to each space and twist, and invite you to visit.
Based on the story by Marathi writer Narayan Dharap, Tumbbad is a flight of fantasy that tells a moral tale of greed.
Set in a mythical, imagined world that’s brought to life and haunted by a lore, a curse, a
khazana, greedy brahmins and the whispers they create around it.
It’s 1918 and we are in Tumbbad, a wet, medieval, gloomy village that is lush but lonely. It’s beauteous and a river runs through it, but is also cursed by constant, incessant rain.
A formidable wada (a tradition mansion) stands in what looks like the middle of nowhere where a frail old brahmin is taken care of and serviced by a bald widow in a red sari.
Aai, who has two sons, also takes care of the other occupant of the house — Dadi.
One of them is cursed, chained and fed once a day. From behind the closed, and the asthamatic, creepy talk, it seems that the cursed one is also the keeper of a secret.
Aai’s older son, Vinayak Rao (played by young Dhundiraj Prabhakar Jogalekar), is after the secret and the sone ki mudra that sits in wada. But tragedy strikes and the film takes a 14-year leap to Pune where Vinayak Rao (Sohum Shah), now a married man, is still dreaming of returning to Tumbbad to look for the hidden khazana.
The scene when he returns to find Dadi has been imagined and then created, or simulated, with the dedication and artistry of a master artist. And the film’s writers, directors, Ajay-Atul and Jesper Kyd (music) along with Pankaj Kumar (cinematography) give it the love it deserved.
Vinayak Rao is in a business arrangement with Raghav (Deepak Damle), where one brings gold coins, and the other encashes them. Rao is now a very rich man who splits his day and night between his wife and mistress.
But greed is not just infectious. It is also the devil.
Two men now head to Tumbbad. One to look for the khazana, the other to lay a deadly trap.
Another jump, this time of 15 years to 1947. Rao, who is now ageing, is training his son (played brilliantly by Mohammad Samad) in the art of quick retrieval. But his son, who has a clubfoot, has other plans. And greed, it seems, grows exponentially with each passing generation.
Tumbbad has both, the beauty and horror of imagination, and it stalks you gently, long after you’ve left the theatre.