Movie Name: Aksbandh
Release Date: May 20, 2016
Director: Emran Hussain
Review by: Momin Ali Munshi
Horror as a genre hasn’t been played with much when it comes to Pakistani Cinema. But then given the resurrection of our cinema and the number of films that have released in the last few years it would not be wrong to say that in this period of experimentation the focus hasn’t been on any one genre as such. We have had biopics, comedies, social dramas among others genres and a Pakistani identity is still being formed. Interestingly even then we have had some three-four horror films hitting cinemas in the past and now the latest offering in this genre is the found footage horror film Aksbandh.
The film narrates the story of six friends who go on a trip to shoot a found footage film where things take a nasty turn for them and well they end up being part of a found footage film themself!
Talking about the story there is nothing novel and the script has clearly drawn inspiration from quite a few sources including ‘Blair Witch Project’ ,’The River ( Television Show)’ among others. Nonetheless the idea of having a Pakistani version of the same and to have a found footage film be set in Pakistan is exciting. Moreover the team deserves a pat on the back for trying something new.
Here I would like to mention that one of the staples of the found footage genre is the fact that it does not give closure at the end and unlike a horror film all loose ends arent tied up. In horror films the climax narrates the story of the supernatural entity and explains why the the entire action took place. But since a found footage film is supposed to be talking reality there is no such scene and this can put off some local viewers who want closure. I believe the 24 hour ban on the film was probably because of the same reason as the censor board felt the film was pointless. So be wary of the fact that there will not be an explanation of why it all happened.
Moving on, the actors are all very believable in the roles they are playing and the chemistry between the group shows and adds to the authenticity which was needed given the genre. Ayaz Samoo and Danial Afzal are the stars as among the lot these two gentlemen gave the best performance. They very effortlessly cruised through the film and made sure you loved/hated their character. This should not take away from Bilal, Saud and Mahrukh who also gave an applaud worthy performance.However I did feel that Shehzeen Rahat could have done the role better and at times her acting came across as forced.
Talking about the direction, since the film was a found footage film almost every rule of camera work gets a waiver. But the director did make sure that he used his camerawork effectively with all the shakiness , the angles etc. Moreover the director has used sound to his advantage in the film, which is something very rarely seen in our Pakistani films who have terrible background scores. Lastly, the film genuinely has its moments where you do get the scares and no I am not talking about the lazy jump scares but true authentic fear where the fear stays with you for more than the few seconds unlike the fear that a jump scare elicits.
All in all this is one great attempt at the genre and deserves a watch.