“Sleep, else Hastar will come for you.“
A film that took the director nine years to make, Rahi Anil Barve’s Tumbbad is a 2018 Hindi-language horror set in the 1920s. It’s a stunningly beautiful film that follows three generations of a single family caught in the grips of greed, desperation and an ancient god. The film was nominated for eight awards, including Best Film, Best Cinematography, and Special Effects at the 64th FilmFare Awards, one of the largest organizations celebrating Hindi-language cinema, Tumbbad wound up finishing first in three categories, including Best Cinematography.
The film opens in the small village of Tumbbad, a rural backwater on the banks of the Jagbudi River in Western India. A grandmother tells her grandson the tale of Hastar — the firstborn of a goddess whom the family worships, considered a blasphemous outcast by the the other, true gods. This veneration gave her and her descendants wealth, but her son, the boy’s father, decided to squander this boon. The film eventually fast-forwards to the boy growing into adulthood, and finding himself in poverty. Lured back to his village after escaping to the city, the boy now a man uncovers the truth about his family’s legacy and the source of their wealth. Tempting fate, he journey’s into Hastar’s lair, hoping to reclaim his sordid birthright. He does, but at great cost to himself, his new family and those around him.
Tumbbad is an excellent example of how to mesh horror with traditional narratives and ‘nontraditional’ settings. From the acting, to the cinematography to the score to the creature design, the film drips with a believable atmosphere that transports you into a truly mystical setting. What’s even more arresting is the fact that though the film is clearly a ‘monster’ horror movie, it’s the relationships and human drama on display that really drives the story and makes the film so engrossing. I really enjoyed Tumbbad, and highly recommend it to any horror fan.
From a monster perspective, the god Hastar is a direct reference to the Hastur from Lovecraftian lore. The original script, written by the director, was heavily influenced by the story Hastar, authored by Narayan Dharap. Dharap, a Maharashtra native, wrote many horror stories, inspired by similar genre authors including Stephen King. Hastar however, was an ode to Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. Dharap was the first Marathi author to bring the mythos to Marathi readers. Nothing like Lovecraft’s Hastur, Tumbbad’s mythological fallen son is loaded with symbolism and an excellent metaphor for the films analysis of greed and human motives, very different from his Lovecraftian origin, but a great interpretation nonetheless.
While not as powerful as most celestial or fiendish creatures, Hastar’s unique abilities should make a interesting encounter for your characters and a great incentive to explore some of the less wholesome aspects of human nature…
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Like music? Me too – let’s add some of the film’s soundtrack by composer Jesper Kyd to the mix – The Birth of Hastar.
A Legend of Hastar