Tumbbad (2018) ★★★★★

A dark fairy tale of a young man Vinayak, his greed and a mythical goddess. Setup in remote village Tumbbad, are Vinayak’s wishes fulfilled?


Tumbbad is a dark fairy tale. It tells of adventures of a Vinayak Rao. At a very tender age.

The story starts with the scenes from Vinayak’s past when he was a young child. Even as a child, he never liked the lower status of his mother who was a rich man’s concubine. The mythological tales are yet another aspect which molded Vinayak’s psyche. In the middle of a night, he actually experienced something first hand which made him terribly terrified.

In a nutshell, you have a character who values money more than anything, believes in mythological stories to earn money and he also has some hints on how to unlock powers beyond him. How the protagonist plays with godly (or demonic?) powers in his lust for money is the story of Tumbbad.

What works

First, it is the story. The story in itself is the most interesting part. In fact, the mere narration of the story is enough to give goosebumps to audience. Whether it is the sad realities of being an illegitimate child, or horrors of being attacked by a creature, or lust for money – Tumbbad’s story writing weaves them together beautifully.

So far, you have got a great story. But even the greatest of stories fail without an apposite screenplay. Luckily for Tumbbad, screenplay is fantastic.

Also, their is this performance of the actors who provide transform this parable to something believable and tangible.

Then again, the dialogues are very well written. Indeed, the clever dialogue writing not only adds the belief but also the comic flavor. As an added bonus, the short succinct comments match the rapid pace of the movie.

Last but the most important aspect of the movie is the cinematography. Dear audiences, if you watch Tumbbad, and the atmosphere, the dampness and the camera movements leave you in awe – do note that most of it is real with hardly any VFX. It took a long time for the movie to be shot, as it was shot almost completely during monsoon months. The main ‘womb’ scenes also have no VFX or chroma screens. The darkness and low-lit effects are also real – at times, the crew waited on for hours to get a cloudy skies. At other times, the crew actually drenched in rains (artificial and natural both) to get the shot right.

What could have been better

While we are writing this section, we must remind audiences that there is nothing really wrong with the movie and it is just a hugely enjoyable flick which is a must watch. That said, our job as critics is to mention whatever minutest of the flaws we felt with the movie. Most of the nuisances that we are going to list can be attributed to the budget. The diligence and efforts of the crew can never be questioned.

The cinematography and dubbing are two main areas where this impact of budget is directly visible. Sometimes the scenes become too dark for a comfortable watching. In comparison, Korean series Kingdom (Netflix), which is very visually appealing and easy on eyes even in the similar dark (and darker) scenes.

Dubbing is another area that takes a hit as there is notable lag at times between the dialogues and lip movement of the characters.


Minor nuisances aside, this is a great fairy tale which is a must watch. Do note that few dialogues (involving mistresses) and situations (horrifying scenes) may not be suitable for very young audience. Viewer discretion is advised.

AglaPlay Verdict: Must watch!
AglaPlay Rating: 5.0/5
Language: Hindi
Duration: ~100 minutes
Writer: Mitesh shah, Adesh Prasad
Director: Rahi Anil Barve, Anand Gandhi
Cast: Sohum shah, Jyoti Malshe, Anita Date and others
IMDb: 8.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Available On: Amazon Prime
Trailer: Tumbbad (2018)

Click here for our other Recommendations !

Mammo (1994) ★★★★★

Mammo is an old widow comes to live with her sister and grandson. The movie portrays how she looks up to the future despite a grim tragic past.

Generally, we start the review with a summary of the central plot. But doing that would be an injustice to the movie Mammo. After all, if we put in plain words, it is nothing but few excerpts from the central character’s stay in Mumbai. You know the drill – eating, watching movies with family, facing small problems with red tape, familial issues – nothing that is out of the world, too emotional or too innovative.

At the same time, the whole movie carries a feeling so deep that the audience feel connected to the whole narrative, as if living it. Indeed, director Shyam Benegel executed his masterpiece Mammo flawlessly.


The movie revolves around the story of Mehmooda Begum Anwar Ali, known by the name “Mammo”. To be precise, it tells the events of her life when she comes to stay with her sister Fayyazi. After Fayyazi lost her daughter and son-in-law to an accident, she lives in a small Mumbai flat with her grandson, Riyaz.

The movie is almost entirely played in flashback. It takes us down the memory lanes of Riyaz and Fayazzi as they fondly remember days spent with Mammo. In the start of her (rather unwelcomed) stay, Riyaz felt uncomfortable and irritated with an unwanted guest in house. Mammo is also a story of the bond which grows with time between Riyaz and her ‘unwanted guest’. The bond that is not of two relatives but of a mother and her son.

Mammo is life. At times, it also feels as a story of a hero, when Mammo fights for what she believes is right. However, in just the next scene, we are brought to reality as the same Mammo agrees to bribe to save herself from extradition. Also, there is a tragic past and sadness and hurt. And birthday parties! As we mentioned earlier, this is not a story, this movie is built on small moments and emotions – not a climax!

What works

First, it is the acting and performances which win over the audience. Farida Jalal, Surekha Sikri, Himani Shivpuri, Vallabh Vyas – are all known faces and they have done a fabulous job here. The most mediocre of the events and scenes become memorable thanks to their performances. Especially, Amit Phalke who played the role of young Riyaz needs special mention who leaves a mark amid so many acting heavy-weights.

Second, it is the environment of the movie which comes from triad – screenplay, cinematography and sets. The movie captures Mumbai in its true spirits. Small conversations with taxi drivers, slum, school, bus and local police office – everything is captured with ample detail to attention. The movement of actors and supporting casts is apt.

Third, it is the dialogues. Now, you may be thinking that dialogues are very cleverly written. Far from that, the dialogues are plain unimaginative – just like our conversations in daily life. As an illustration, when Riyaz storms off from a hotel room, he does not deliver an emotional heavy monologue. This is a welcome change from the regular Bollywood which uses such moments for delivering long monologues.

Finally, it is the story itself, which we have not credited so far. Saadat Hasan Manto, after all, also wrote only plain simple events of life. Khalid Mohamed of Fiza-fame has written the story. Actually, I wonder if it was his first work for a feature? Not sure, though.

What could have been better

Without a doubt, privatizations quality! Not only that the scenes are not always well-lit, it is also a problem that camera quality that is used is sub-par. For instance, the scene in the police office look too dull. In particular, the bad combination reflects when the ‘broker’ introduces himself to Mammo and Riyaz.

Granted that the budgets are affected in such movies which pursued quality movie-making rather than star-presence. Also agreed that the financial earning of such movies are repeatedly very low. We know rights of few fabulous movies being sold to OTT platform at mere 500 thousands. Still, it makes us at AglaPlay.com sad to see so much of effort and time went into making a masterpiece which cannot be fully enjoyed today.

In contrast, many movies of 1930s of Hollywood which are in black and white still look fabulous with HD prints because the camera and technology was good.


We consider it a must watch movie. Despite it being a 26+ years old movie, much of it holds relevance today as well. Further, it has a family-friendly story, which helps.

At the same time, we warn the audience for a sub-par viewing experience, especially as we are now accustomed to high definition. Yet another downside is lack of lovely songs or romantic background stories. Beyond these minor inconveniences, it is, and will remain, a masterpiece!

AglaPlay Verdict: Must watch!
AglaPlay Rating: 5.0/5
Language: Hindi
Duration: ~130 minutes
Writer: Khalid Mohamed, Shama Zaidi
Director: Shyam Benegel
Cast: Farida Jalal, Surekha Sikri, Amit Phalke
IMDb: 7.7
Rotten Tomatoes: -
Available On: Epic On

Click here for our other Recommendations !

Ek Doctor Ki Maut ★★★★

Aglaplay.com Review of Ek Doctor Ki Maut (1990). The movie is is inspired from real life of an Indian doctor in 1980s.


Ek Doctor Ki Maut (Death of a Doctor) is about an Indian doctor who discovers vaccine for a dreaded disease. However, this astonishing feat is looked down upon by his fellow practitioners, government and others. Instead of being praised and honored for the cure, the doctor receives constant humiliation in media and the society.

Now, does the doctor ever attains the recognition that he deserves? Or his findings were indeed worthless as claimed by everyone else? Loosely based on the challenges faced by Dr. Subhash Mukhopadhyay, the movie makes the audience feel the helplessness and dissatisfaction felt by the protagonist.

What works

The top selling point of the movie is its veracity and genuineness. At AglaPlay.com, we always values the detailing and simplicity over the paraphernalia. The movie scores a perfect ten on this aspect. Especially the sets are modest, and fit the background and India of 1980s perfectly. The wardrobe in its plainness and humility adds the feeling of authenticity throughout the movie.

All actors have given an exemplary performance in Ek Doctor Ki Maut. Well, nothing less is expected form a cast of actors like Pankaj Kapoor, Shabana Azmi and Irrfan. The supporting actors also excel – Deppa, Vijeyendra and Anil – everyone leaves a lasting impression with the performances. For example, Vijeyendra dons the expressions to perfection in every shot which shows a financially successful doctor, close family friend, a jealous colleague – all at the same time.

Screenplay and direction is tight. The movie flows easily and effortlessly. This is an attempt to truthfully recreate the reality. Writing and direction of Tapan Sinha ensures that the end product will be remembered for time to come. (Then again, the same element might have negatively impacted the producers financially).

What could have been better

As we mentioned earlier in this article, Ek Doctor Ki Maut movie is a sincere effort to recreate the realities of Dr. Mukhopadhyay’s life. In fact it is ironic that the movie fails exactly where it excels.

Indeed, the story-telling is honest, intense and well-paced. On the other hand, the same sincerity may bore a regular movie watcher, and may make several to stop watching the movie in mid. The movie lacks flashy or over-emotional moments or an ‘attractive’ star-cast. For this reason, it may become tough for average audience to make through the whole movie.


Regardless of our reservations due to unostentatious presentation of Ek Doctor Ki Maut, we loved the movie and we believe that most of out readers would agree with our rating of 4 stars for the movie.

In summary, we strongly recommend it to be watched. If not for entertainment, watch it to get an idea of how peer-jealousy, politics and red tape kills innovation, esp. when much of it remains relevant in today’s world as well.

AglaPlay Verdict: Do watch!
AglaPlay Rating: 4.0/5
Language: Hindi
Duration: ~120 minutes
Writer-Director: Tapan Sinha
Cast: Pankaj Kapur, Shabana Azmi, Irrfan & Others
IMDb: 8.3
Rotten Tomatoes: -
Available On: Epic On

Click here for our other Recommendations !

Check out engaging content across platforms!

Getting back online with reviews of movies and series available on streaming platforms!

Turbulent times…

Hiya all! It is been long since we last posted the reviews of plays and short movies… Sadly, with the second wave, all of us had tough time and the situation was equally bad, if not worse for the showbiz.

We personally could witness only one live performance before the lock-downs started again. The crisis hit the producers and performers as well with government restrictions on movements and health issues at a personal level. Very few releases or new releases came out, with Mumbai hit badly both times. We hope that all gets over soon and also wish that all our readers emerged safe and stronger. But wishes sadly can take us only so far!

Future plans

We will soon start with helping our readers in finding hidden gems available on the streaming platforms. This is our attempt to bring value to you. Utilize your time better by cutting down on the efforts and time spent in searching for new content!

We plan to bring you some names which you have not heard earlier. With that idea in mind, we will soon add Hidden Gems category to our offerings at AglaPlay.com. This will cover all genres from Biography, Drama, Thriller, Actions, Classics, Horror, Sci-Fi and more!

While the posts will come in near future, few non-Indian examples which come to my mind on top are: Unbroken (Netflix, 2014, Biography), Departures (2007, drama), Host (Prime Video, 2020, Horror), Rear Window (1954, Thriller)… Our focus will be mostly Indian! If possible, ONLY Indian.


Platforms planned to be covered: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+Hotstar, SonyLiv, Zee5, Mubi, BookMyShow Stream, YouTube, Epic On and more!

And, we are sorry!

We also take this opportunity to say sorry to our fans whose posts and comments we could not address or read in recent turbulent times. In fact, due to massive spams, we had to close down the commentary section few months back – all comments are now moderated.

Best wishes!