Tumbbad Is A Great Movie About Caste

By Kiran Kumbhar

August 29 2022

The 2018 film Tumbbad is among the best and most visually spectacular Indian films. Many of us know that. At the same time – what is less known – it is also one of the best Indian movies ever on caste.​


So many reviewers emphasized that the film is about greed – but missed to say that only a few are even “allowed” to nurture any kind of ambition, let alone of wealth.

We have been bombarded with claim that Dalits, Adivasis whose parents have government jobs are now  “privileged.” In Tumbbad, we vividly portray such generational caste-based privilege.

Caste Privilege 

Caste Patriarchy

There’s also a powerful and disturbing portrayal of “Brahmanical patriarchy”, as Uma Chakravarti described, after the people who made and propagated shastras as divine law.

Among the strongest undercurrents in the film  is the elite privilege of committing offences and crimes at will, with little worry about punishment.


Mainstream Reviews

Maybe I have missed some good reviews. But it is unsurprising that these aspects just completely bypassed the radar of elite mainstream film reviewers in India.

Tumbbad’s overt story provides closure: we see that the cycle of greed is broken. But does Tumbbad’s covert political-historical story also provide any closure?

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