It’s Bollywood horror! I think I’ve found my elusive great Indian spooky movie. Rahi Anil Bahrvi’s film Tumbbad is going to be premiering at the Venice Film Festival, and then later on at Austin’s Fantastic Fest.
My wish has been granted! There must be a Djinn hiding in my house somewhere who heard my request. If you saw my recent post on Bollywood horror, you may know that I have been trying to figure out what the state of Hindi horror was. I became particularly interested once we realized how many fans we have from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Bhutan. (Wonders never cease!) And, in fairly quick succession we received word that Blumhouse and Netflix are picking up a film series that was having issues with Indian censorship, in the film Ghoul.
And now, word has come out that the biggest thing in Hindi Horror has arrived in the form of Rahi Anil Barve’s film Tumbbad, and will be making its world debut at the end of this month at the prestigious Venice Film Festival. This festival is aiming to be another Cannes, a big pre-Oscar hype machine featuring many of the biggest projects that are going to be released in the fall. If you were so inclined, you could go to Venice and catch an early screening of First Man, A Star Is Born, Suspiria, The Nightengale (From the Babadook’s Jennifer Kent), 22 July (From Paul Greengrass, who this time is covering the Oslo mass shootings), and Cinestate’s Dragged Across Concrete. So, it’s in some very good company. This is the very first Indian film to premiere at the Venice Film Festival, of any genre. For those of us state-side, your first crack at this film will be at Austin’s Fantastic Fest later in September.
The movie stars Sohum Shah as Vinayak, a man searching for fortune through a decaying castle, in the rural village of Tumbbad, and was built as a temple to the first-born son of a creator goddess, and has been neglected, but there is believed to be a treasure within. This treasure is guarded by something ancient, sinister, and monstrous. Vinayak is confident that he can control this demon, but his greed and hubris could well be his undoing. The film is a period piece, and according to the Venice Film Festival it is “a visionary fantasy film, rich in visual inventions, special effects and blood.”
I have been pining for the Goddess Kali to show up in film… and wouldn’t you know it, but take a look at the image on the poster. What do you see? Yeah baby! She’s got lots of arms! So… is she going to show up to wreck some house? There’s going to be a demon in this movie, and I hope it has lots of arms. Crossing my fingers on this!
I’m not the only one curious about Bollywood Horror. Film Companion has also picked up on this mini-trend, and remarked that there is, at last, some movement on Indian horror movies embracing their own regional themes and stories rather than recycling something from Korea or Hollywood, which had been prevalent in most Bollywood horror productions. Tumbbad and The Ghoul are going to be distinctly Indian, and that is a really cool prospect. Fantastic Fest verifies this by stating “No song and dance here, Tumbbad is an ambitious period film that will turn any preconceived notion of Indian horror on its head. Producer, star, and primary creative force Sohum Shah delivers what is undoubtedly the most exciting pure horror film made in India in at least thirty years.”
So, I think I’ve found the Unicorn of horror films. Let’s hope it’s good! If it got vetted through these two prestigious festivals, I’m certain it could be something special.
Tumbbad will be released for the rest of us on December 10, and does not yet have an MPAA rating.