If you're sick and tired of the same old recycled scripts about saas-bahu, doosri biwi, teesri biwi and sensationalised rape stories that have taken over the television industry these days, do yourselves a favor and give the supernatural series Dhund a try.
Directed by Farrukh Faiz and written by Mohammad Ahmed (Dareecha and Goya), Dhund started on July 15 on TV One and what a fresh script it is!
P.S: You might not be able to sleep at night for a day or two but it’s totally worth it.
So what's the story?
Dhund is a story of a few different families who experience supernatural activity. One common denominator in all of this is Maria (Maria Wasti) who is a medium; someone who can communicate with the dead. Her husband Imran and son Fawad have been missing for eight years and the only way she knows that they are alive is through her deceased Nana Syed (Mohammad Ahmed) who assures her of their well-being.
"Mujhe zinda log nazar nahi aate hain, siwaye tumhare (You're the only living person I can see)," he tells her.
The other common denominator is investigator Uzair (Hassan Ahmed) who goes to Maria for help with a case and in return promises to look into her missing husband and son. Uzair finds that Imran used to go to Lahore two or three times a month to see someone named Arjumand.
Episodes 1 and 2 cover two more stories besides Maria’s. One is of script editor Waqas (Asad Siddiqi) who is editing a story featuring actor Noora (Sana Askari). He makes the mistake of laughing off the story of Noora’s character, Ronaq Ara.
We learn that Ronaq Ara has been dead for 150 years and had committed suicide. Her soul is restless because she took her own life and no one offered her Namaz-e-Janazah. Ronaq Ara, miffed at Waqas's derision of her life story, haunts him till a hair-raising end.
The other story is of Sania Saeed and her daughter Haaniya. Her husband has just died and Haaniya tells her mother that she doesn't feel like she's ever alone in her room. To make matters worse, her friend tells her that the dead still live in the place they died for 40 days. Haaniya realizes her father has only been dead for 29 days, which is why she feels his presence in her room; especially when the wind chimes tinkle. Maria's help is enlisted to bring peace to the young girl.
What works for Dhund — and what doesn't
So far Dhund is brilliantly written and reminds me of Mohammad Ahmed and Farrukh Faiz’s earlier collaboration, Dareecha. Not only does it have the same mysterious feel, you see some of the same characters too. Sana Askari came back to screen after a long time and seems to have taken inspiration from her role of Noor Jahan (in Dareecha) and is fantastic as Jahan Ara – her eyes are enough to give you the shivers. Someone really needs to cast her in a horror movie!
Maria Wasti, a seemingly successful interior designer, plays the role of the depressed Maria to the T. You see her hesitation in accepting her gift but her Nana’s guidance helps her throughout and ultimately, we do see her coming to grips with it.
Asad Siddiqi and Sania Saeed have limited screen time, but did every bit of justice to their roles. I’m still on the fence about Hassan Ahmed though. He emotes very little when speaking, has no facial expressions and sometimes it feels like he's just rehearsing his lines.
The same goes for the actor who plays Haaniya’s father. The guy is dead and is supposedly so concerned about his daughter that he can't move on yet he lacked any emotion when telling Maria how much he cares for Haaniya.
Last but not least is Mohammad Ahmed – from Durreshehwaar’s Abba, to Shah Jee from Dareecha, he portrays the character of Nana Syed with the grace and dignity as only he can.
With the exception of Maria Wasti’s hair and makeup, there is nothing OTT about the script. It is fresh yet simple.
There is no overdose of dramatic flair, in-your-face wealth, or any extra noise. And as all of Mohammad Ahmed’s scripts, it's in clear Urdu without being pretentious. The stories move back and forth with ease and without complication. You aren’t ever left wondering, ‘wait, what?’
Another thing Dhund has going for it is the fact that it deals with society’s superstitions in a subtle way. Many people believe in this stuff – in fact there are places in Karachi that people believe are haunted.
For example, Karsaz road has been said to be haunted by the infamous bride in a red dress, apparently voices can be heard and things spotted floating at night in Mohatta Palace, the haunted hut in Hawks Bay where jinns are said to have weddings, to name a few. Oh, and apparently, ghosts go to watch movies in Shireen Cinema. (Boy, are they about to be disappointed if they watch Project Ghazi)!
The other thing I like about this script (and most of Mohommad Ahmed’s scripts) is the spontaneous comedy. The jinns who eat the house-help's gulab jamun or put Maria’s slippers in the kitchen cabinet, all those scenes feel very natural, despite being the work of supernatural forces!
How he treats the hired help in his scripts is also commendable (and unlike stereotypical portrayals). Maria doesn’t insult or disrespect her maid – she treats her with respect and like a human being.
Moreover, the editing is crisp and direction is top notch. I believe Farrukh Faiz has come back to direction after Goya and successfully took an already solid script even further. His scenes are shot in many different locations throughout the house and not just the living room or bedroom, like most dramas.
He also adds that supernatural feel with wind chimes tinkling every time Haaniya feels her father’s presence or when Waqas wakes up to see Ronaq Ara burning incense in his room at night and in the cemetery. Moments like the lights going off when Waqas is editing or things just randomly falling from shelves in Maria’s kitchen are examples of how brilliantly Faiz brings the script to life... and freak us out in the process!
Like I said earlier, Dhund is a refreshing change from the monotonous stories we've been seeing and is definitely worth the watch.