It seems as if Pakistani film industry is slowly returning to the golden days of its time. Over the years, some films like “Khuda Kay Liye“ and “Bol” have done the duty quite impressively. The recently released movie “Siyaah” has also tried and almost succeeded to get its name written among the films which have done a task to revive Lollywood. In light of the semi-conducive environment for filmmakers in Pakistan, it comes as a symbolic achievement when an independent, low-budget film such as Siyaah made by a group of youngsters is released commercially. The film has been produced by Imran Kazmi, directed by Azfar Jaffri and written amongst others by Osman Khalid Butt.
The title Siyaah aptly embodies the cryptic content of this hair-raising horror flick. The story revolves around a married couple, Bilal (Jabbar Naeem) and Zara (Hareem Farooq) who move into a new house on the outskirts of Islamabad following a personal tragedy. They decide to adopt a child to mitigate their woes and the plot thickens. Little Natasha (Mahnoor Usman), is no regular child and entangles the lives of her foster parents in a web of ominous experiences.
Despite the aesthetic and the technical snags – the film has visible issues with focus, moiré and aliasing, as well as extreme color grading that either crushes or demolishes chromatic details – Siyaah is a testament of a young-team’s resolve in making an independent Pakistani feature film. Mahnoor Usman stands out as an actor for she is the centerpiece of the atmosphere of horror and lives up to her role. She has an incredible command over her expressions for a girl her age and captures the coy and venomous subtext of her character quite remarkably.
The audience was quite responsive and gasped and screamed at the scary moments and lamented at the sad ones, discussing the film’s developments in whispers. For the duration of the film they were completely engrossed in the world of Zara, Bilal and Natasha. The film’s grotesqueness is nicely balanced with some light moments and witty pop culture references. These seemed to go down well with the cinema audience who for instance were giggling away to an allusion made to pea soup while mocking Hollywood exorcism flicks.