Dia shows the power of a twisted mind

Hamza Bangash’s film takes you to a dark place

Dia is often used as a sign of ‘hope’. Dia jalaeyga rakhna (Retain that fire, or don’t let go of hope) goes a famous Pakistan song. It is used a metaphor for never giving up. Hamza Bangash’s film represents that idea to the extreme. It gives rock-bottom a new meaning. What was more horrifying was when I learned that this film was based on a true story.

Mariam Nadeem (Nida Khan) is a final law student. She is at an age when parents are desperate for their daughters to get married. In her case, Fariha Nadeem (Bakhtawar Mazhar) a single mother of two, is pushing Mariam to accept a suitable proposal for her. Mariam tries to use her studies as an excuse but her mom is having none of it.

She is in a secret online relationship. Asad, who we only see in old pictures and flashbacks, is her companion. In the Skype sessions, we only see Mariam’s camera. As her mother pushes and exam date nears, Mariam slowly starts to plummet mentally. Her mother takes her to a spiritual healer (Ibadullah Sheikh), who is a pervert. Her condition worsens, under till she hits absolute rock-bottom. It then we see this a moment which would shock the day light out of most.


In a matter for 20 odd minutes, Dia gets in your head and refuses to leave. It makes you question how psychological illness is still a taboo in our society and how family members never take it seriously. Tradition and religious myths are seen as the form of recourse. Yasir Khan’s cinematography follows the trajectory of Mariam’s mind. The setting gets darker as the film goes on.

Pakistani Short Film ‘Dia’ makes it to Locarno Film Festival, Switzerland

Nida Khan, demonstrates the journey of a girl who is losing her sanity. While, Bakhtawar Mazhar portrays many women in our society who have no support when their husbands leave them behind with young children. Her battles have made her so mentally strong, that she is oblivious to her daughter’s pain. It is painful and insightful at the same time.

While, Dia is not likely to get a mass release, but it should become available on some streaming website. This film, makes you look at the ugly reality of life.


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