Three rare Pakistani horror films will soon be screened in the city

Horror films at Khoj? Those who perceive Khoj as just a typical artistic space might find it difficult to find the connect between the two but who knows Khoj as a centre for alternative art practices belonging to various disciplines, wouldn’t really be surprised.

As part of the Khoj (Re)Building Project Series, three Pakistani horror films – Zinda Laash, Aurat Raj (1979) and Zibahkhana (2007) will be screened at Khoj Studios, S-17, Khirkee Extension on July 6, 2012. Khoj is being revamped to build a new institutional infrastructure for making, exhibiting and researching contemporary art. The new building will have multi-purpose project spaces, artists’ studios and residences, an open access archive and library, a terrace and cafe.

Now even as it is under construction, Khoj is experimenting and holding events which respond to the current status of the site. Thus, the dilapidated structure and its broken corners make for an idea setting for horror films’ showcase. Khoj has been interested in these films ever since Bangalore hosted a Fantastic Film Festival in 2010. “And now seeing the response and excitement over the event, we are now thinking of having a bigger festival of something like this later. We have also got hold of some Nigerian films…”says Charu Maithani, Programme Officer, New Media and Community Engagement.

Sourced from personal collections, the three films belong to three different time periods. While Zinda Laash was made in 1967, Aurat Raj belonged to the 70s and Zibahkhaana is the latest of the lot. Zinda Laash was the first film in Pakistan to be x-rated and Aurat Raj transports you to a different world. Gender roles reverse and you see women molesting men. Yes, we could find them funny but there are many layers to these films. Aurat Raj was made by Rangeela, who himself was quite an interesting character. He was also supposed to be a wrestler, singer and filmmaker,” elaborates Charu.

Zibahkhana or Hell’s Ground, directed by Omar Ali Khan in 2008 is believed to be Pakistan’s first modern gore flick. A film buff who has studied films now runs a chain of ice-cream parlours in Pakistan. The low budget film went on to be immensely successful and did the rounds of some films festivals as well. According to Charu, one can see social commentary being made in the films if one wants to. “Like the role reversal in Aurat Raaj or killer in a burqa or may be the disconnect between the rural and urban worlds in Zibahkhana in which a group of youngsters reach a village of zombies.”

(The films will be screened at Khoj Studios, S-17, Khirkee Extension on July 6, 2012 from noon onwards. A documentary titled “Mondo Macabro: Horror and Fantasy in South Asia”, written, produced and directed by Pete Tombs and Andy Starke will also be shown during the day.)