18 Feb, 2019

I’m going to start off by saying Hoorain (Aleena) is the star of Bandish; she is absolutely magnificent. How a nine or 10 year old girl can pull off the stunts she manages is beyond me. This girl is seriously going places!

That said, eight episodes in, the TV drama is only getting better and better.

Bandish is a story of two families; Junaid and Madiha (Sajid Hassan and Marina Khan) and their 3 daughters – Sania (Hira Mani), Hania (Zubab Rana), and the youngest Aleena (Hoorain). They all seem to be a happy close-knit family and like all mothers, Madiha’s only focus is on getting her two daughters married. Rishtas come, but something always goes wrong.

Sania actually has an attack in front of one family and is hospitalized. Her doctor, Dr. Abyaan (Mani) takes a liking to her and wants to marry her. Hania too is semi-involved with her friend’s brother Hamza (Fahad Sheikh). Hamza’s father, Izhar Uncle, knows the family is under the spell of black magic and gives Hania a taaveez to wear for protection, which she gives to Sania in the hospital – that taaveez saves Sania’s life.

Bandish is the story of two families, one of which includes three daughters: Sania, Hania and Hoorain
Bandish is the story of two families, one of which includes three daughters: Sania, Hania and Hoorain

The other family is comprised of two sisters, Sumbal (Farah Shah) and Sandal (Zaineb Ahmed). Sumbal is a practioner of black magic and has three jinns under her control. She wants revenge from Junaid for something that happened eons ago and uses her sister to get it.

Read: This black magic TV drama is a Pakistani horror fan's delight

Through black magic, Junaid becomes antagonistic towards his wife and family and marries Sandal. Sumbal has a jinn using a little girl’s vessel (played by Tasbeeha) who haunts the family and the jinn eventually possesses Aleena. Sumbal’s entire focus is on destroying Junaid and Madiha’s family and making sure their daughters don’t get married – hence the name Bandish.

Things only get more sinister...

Sania is released from the hospital and comes home. She takes off the taveez and goes to change her clothes, only to find all of her shirts cut weirdly in different places, but only Sania can see cuts, no one else. The little girl takes the taveez and Sumbal starts her magic again. Sania gets sick again and coincidentally, Izhar Uncle was there this time. He is shocked that Sania isn’t wearing the taveez. That doesn’t at all make sense as he had made the taveez for his daughter and Hania, for their exams and protection. So why is he shocked that Sania isn't wearing it?

Junaid comes home finally while all of this is going on and Izhar Uncle tells them that their entire house is under black magic, which angers Junaid and he starts getting rude since he doesn’t believe any of that. Aleena has another nightmare where she sees a weird being on a tree and her house is on fire. She wakes up and won't stop screaming. Izhar Uncle to the rescue again.

Junaid starts acting out under Sumbal's spell
Junaid starts acting out under Sumbal's spell

As I said in the start, Hoorain is the star of this drama. The adults are all good, but they have been acting for years. However, for a 9-10 year old to play a possessed character, especially in the beginning of episode 6 when she has to play the demon child, she is brilliant.

She played her part with more conviction than I have seen many adults do. She throws Sania down and trying to kill her, then flies on to a tree. Izhar Uncle chains Aleena to the bed and starts reciting Quranic verses. The entire scene is something out of The Exorcist (not literally).

Aleena tricks Madiha into opening the chains and then she attacks Izhar Uncle and tries to kill him; he eventually ends up in the hospital. This entire scenario was brilliantly shot and Aabis Raza has truly outdone himself in these scenes. These could not have been easy scenes.

These are shots where everything is happening at once; the rocking chair starts rocking by itself, the dresser starts moving by itself, lamps start flickering off and on, Aleena is in and out of possession... all of this was so perfectly shot and edited that I seriously can not believe this is just a Pakistani drama. Points to whomever did the special effects also, because they really got it right!

Hoorain's character will give you nightmares
Hoorain's character will give you nightmares

Sumbal finally meets Junaid, but in a niqab. At this point something important is revealed about the connection between Sumbal, Madiha and Junaid. Later, Junaid tells Madiha about his second marriage and wife. When Haniya finds out, she says something really strange: “Aleena jinn aur baba churail ke kabze main hain." But she doesn't remember saying that when Saniya asks what she meant by that.

While all of this is going on, Dr. Abyan wants to marry Sania and his mother even calls Madiha, Junaid is going out of the country with Sandal on his honeymoon, and Farzana Khala has a BOGO (buy one get one) offer of two brothers for Hania and Sania.

Of course, that Madiha is even entertaining the thought of this is ridiculous. But what’s a desi mummy to do? In the world of desi TV dramas it seems the answer to everything is getting your daughters married; especially now that Junaid has remarried.

After this the pace of the drama picks up again with an intense standoff between Madiha and Daya Saheb. Again, well done Aabis Raza and the entire editing team. In this difficult sequence three very different things were happening simultaneously, and the entire sequence was smoothly shot and edited.

Sumbul is the one wreaking havoc
Sumbul is the one wreaking havoc

Without giving too much away, I appreciate that the drama's 8th episode didn't end on a cliffhanger, and we finally got to know the reason behind Sumbal's hatred for Junaid.

All in all Bandish is sheer brilliance. Except for some minor loopholes, the script is solid, the direction equals perfection in every frame, and almost everyone fits into their characters like a glove, especially Hoorain. How her parents let her play that role is beyond me.

The girl actually hangs upside down on a tree and becomes a child demon, and does all of this with pure conviction. I haven’t yet seen a supernatural series that is holistically done so well. Also, it is a refreshing change from the same old saas bahu dramas. Kudos to the entire team!