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The coronavirus pandemic has completely disrupted Pakistan’s cinema circuit but this year’s lockdown has thus been cause for a boom in the country’s digital media platforms in 2020. It’s imperative to laud the freely available short films streaming on YouTube, highlighting a uniquely crisp form of storytelling, and of course launching new talent at the same time.

Here are five short film reviews that have definitely had an impact on viewers and captivated the digital audience…






Usman Mukhtar’s Bench is a gift. It is a boon for storytelling as it celebrates the art of subtlety, brevity and possibility in filmmaking. Bench is an intelligent metaphor for meeting, waiting and parting and Mukhtar gets every note just right with his laudable short which recently made it to the prestigious Cannes International Independent Film Festival (CIIFF). Paying special heed to the sound of silence in the film, the sound design is almost a character in the film. One wishes that more filmmakers would understand that music, sound design, and background scores are meant to complement the story of a film, and not overpower emotions by manipulating or jarring the sensibilities of viewers. The film intricately plays with diegetic (sound from within the world of the film) and nondiegetic sound (sound which can only be heard by the audience and not by the characters in the film) which begins with Tagore’s beautiful Bengali melody ‘Soye Nahin’ (performed by Natasha Humera Ejaz and Mirande Shah) and ends on a bittersweet note ‘Abhi Abhi’ (Natasha Humera Ejaz).



It would have been interesting to see the trailer as part of the actual film, but what’s riveting is that the film is an entity of its own, and the trailer was released to simply set the premise for what lies ahead.

Also noteworthy is Rubya Chaudhary’s raw, rustic and poignant performance, which leaves the spectator spellbound. Why can we not see more women artists of her caliber in Pakistani film and television? Her character pays an ode to nuanced storytelling, the no-makeup look, authenticity, and simple but detailed costume design, which actually evokes ‘distraughtness’ in both her character and audiences alike. Kudos to Ali Mudar’s sensitive screenplay and Omer Bari’s delicate cinematography; their contribution proves that performances alone cannot drive a film forward.

Without giving away much of the plot, it is safe to say that this 12-minute short film will not insult your intelligence with exposition, but will leave you asking the right questions, yearning for what happens next.


Though Bench isn’t available for public viewing yet, Usman Mukhtar has reassured us that it will be put online soon.






A social awareness message packaged as a thriller, Ab Buss directed by Mohsin Talat and written by Sanam Dogar, hits us hard with a simple yet intense short story. The unexpected journey that Maya (Sanam Saeed) has to take raises a loaded question: what do you need to do to feel safe as a woman? Talat and Dogar use a visually repetitive trope as a motif for reinforcement but even with the sledgehammer messaging, voice over, news video clips and animation montage, this film is a breath of fresh air. Sanam Saeed’s measured performance and the little-to-no-dialogue approach is most definitely appealing and worth your while.

One wishes the film was a tad bit shorter but capped at 10 minutes it still makes for a thrilling watch. You can view Ab Buss on See Prime’s YouTube Channel.






Directed by Awaid Sulaman and written by Edison Idrees Masih, Ustad is a moving story about a relationship that cannot be labelled or stuffed into a water tight box. Caretaking takes a whole different meaning in this story and the beauty of the film lies in the telling of an unconventional dynamic between two people in a rather unwonted setting of a motor repair shop. Yasir Nawaz’s performance as a differently abled man in the titular role is delectable and young Anas makes a striking impression as well. This film gets its production design and wardrobe choices just right; they make you enter the world of the characters.

Another See Prime original capped right under 10 minutes, Ustad is a treat to watch.


Wedding Night Stories



Wedding Night Stories is a series of five short films all centered around, as evident from its name, Suhaagraats (the first-night newlyweds legitimately spend together to consummate their marriage). Interestingly enough, these five short films, all capped under 15 minutes, turn the entire overly romanticized notions and blissful connotations associated with suhaagraats in South Asia, upside down on its head.

These hard-hitting shorts are centered around potent taboo themes like virginity, regressive post-nikkah customs, revenge, domestic violence, child sexual abuse and molestation, and illegitimate pregnancy. Written and directed by Kifayat Rodani, what is striking about these five short films is that the story, setting, and action in each film is limited to a single bedroom, and yet as viewers, we are invested in the plot. This is a reminder to all those aspiring screenwriters and filmmakers: stop pining for fancy sets, big budgets, and a stellar star-cast, because this is not a prerequisite for great storytelling.

Wedding Night Stories has fresh faces to watch out for as well as renowned actors like Saleem Meraj, Kaif Ghaznavi, and Rashid Farooqi as part of its cast. How do these 5 short films focus on the aforementioned themes? Well for that watch the series on YouTube under the channel Baidaar Tv.


Champa Chambeli



Champa Chambeli gets one thing (among others) absolutely right: it happens to have a catchy title that does not for once reveal or spell out the entire plausible plot of a short film. The film, capped at 25 minutes, is literally and metaphorically a canvas with myriad strokes for different folks. It has themes ranging from catfishing, social media influx, paintings, fantasies, and a glimpse of how communication has evolved over the 21st century with digital being the go-to global mode of interaction and an easy means to fame. The background score is interestingly different, and the cross-border narrative is the hook for you to see this pro-peace, satirical take on social media (mis)communication.

Written and directed by Hisham Bin Munawar, this short film is available for streaming on See Prime’s Youtube Channel.



Digital Media is definitely the next big booming medium of entertainment not just for Pakistan, but for the world. As a nation starving for groundbreaking stories, the responsibility of supporting independent films that foster new talent lies on our shoulders. Kudos to all the artists changing small-scale cinema and shattering overwrought narratives.