Tumbbad, the first Indian period horror film opened up a completely new dimension for cinema lovers in India! The masterpiece narrated the gripping fable of the rural village of Tumbbad, a decaying castle that conceals an infinite ancestral fortune guarded by something ancient, menacing and horrific – the forgotten son of the Goddess of Prosperity – Hastar. The movie impressed critics and viewers worldwide with its unique storyline, direction, and suspense and also became the first Indian movie to premiere in the critics’ week section of the 75th Venice International Film Festival! 2 years after its release, Anand Gandhi who served as the Co-Writer, Creative Director and Executive Producer of this brilliant cinema reveals a secret about its making!
Tumbbad is a special presentation in many ways as it explores and delves into the psyche of horror in a completely different route altogether! In Anand Gandhi’s own words, the way he approaches horror is scientific and deeply rooted in human biology that has evolved over the years. He shares, “While color systems are essential to any narrative, it is an often-misunderstood science. Our minds have evolved to make specific relationships with color, patterns, textures, and contrasts – this ability has saved our lives in the past by being able to spot leopards hidden in the grass, for example. But this emotion doesn’t always need black spots in yellow grass to be triggered. The same emotion can also be triggered by a misplaced pink blush on a child’s smiling face while witnessing a beautiful bluebird bleeding and fluttering to its death. There! You have horror created by pink, blue, and brightly saturated colors too. Horror is created by the meaning-making parts of brains and hence is driven by context.”
Furthermore, the genius film-maker Anand shares the theory behind Tumbbad and its central character that has never been discussed before! With a smile on his face, he reveals, “For centuries men have automatically been granted social privilege, control of property, and moral authority by just the virtue of their birth. The patriarchal system has granted some the power to incessantly violate even the most fundamental rights of the ones excluded from the system because of their gender or their caste – in some cases, commit horrors upon the victims of their oppression. Tumbbad is an allegory for the horror of patriarchal power centers (Sarkar) run by a toxic mix of consumerism (the foreign goods), greed (the gold), and intoxication (the opium). It’s the story of a patriarch claiming his position of authoritarian power lost to his bastard-hood so he can own, control and oppress just like his biological father he once hated (as seen through his relationship with his widowed mistress).”
He further adds, “Tumbbad is an allegory for the horror of patriarchal power centers (Sarkar) run by a toxic mix of consumerism (the foreign goods), greed (the gold), and intoxication (the opium). It’s the story of a patriarch claiming his position of authoritarian power lost to his bastard-hood so he can own, control and oppress just like his biological father he once hated (as seen through his relationship with his widowed mistress). To do this, he has to literally steal this power from the cursed monster of toxic greed, abuse, and theft accumulated over centuries (Hastar).”
Well, that really provides a completely different insight into the making of the cult movie – Tumbbad. Who other than Anand Gandhi could come up with such amazing nuances that are intricately weaved into the plot of a special movie that oscillates between the horrors of the supernatural and human greed! Truly mind-blowing!