Asian Movie Pulse | Sept 27th, 2018 | Read full article here

“Having its World Premiere in Locarno, “Dia” is one of the most impressive shorts to come out of Pakistan  during the latest years.

Mariam is a sensitive law student preparing for her final year exams. She lives with her overbearing mother and younger brother in a middle class neighbourhood in Karachi, Pakistan. As Mariam’s exam date and graduation draw nearer, her mother urges her to consider an arranged marriage. Mariam, who is in a secret relationship online, refuses. As the pressure of marriage and finals build to a boiling point, she struggles to retain her sanity. The film chronicles her descent into madness- and how she attempts to seek help- in a society where mental illness remains taboo.

The film has a direct purpose of highlighting the place of women in contemporary Pakistan , with Bangash painting a picture that is quite dark. Modern technology and particularly the mobile phone “world” has brought a sense of freedom to Pakistani youths, but the film destroys this false sense completely, as it shows that tradition and religion are the elements that still dominate the country’s society

At the same time, Hamza highlights the social prejudice associated with mental illness, as the film takes a turn towards the psychological thriller, as the images follow Miriam’s troubled mind. Yasir Khan’s cinematography succeeds in capturing the sense of claustrophobia deriving from Miriam’s mentality, while Bangash’s own editing presents the events in the film with a rather fast pace that makes the film easily watchable.

Nida Khan as Mariam captures the essence of her character, and particularly the downward spiral, to perfection, while Bakhtawar Mazhar as her mother is impressive as a woman who has no clue and does seem to wish to learn what is going on with her daughter.

“Dia” is an impressive short, and I would like to see Hamza making a feature out of it, portraying the lives of women and the situation with mental illness in more detail.”

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