Zibahkhana | full movie watch online
Think Scooby Doo, now think Scooby Doo gone bad. Thatâ€™sZibahkhana (Fig. 1) for you. Part slasher-fest, part zombie-gore, and part murder-mystery, Omar Ali Khanâ€™s directorial debut impresses on all three counts. Most horror films have inspirations and Zibahkhana(2007) is no exception, admittedly based on 1970s and 80s Hollywood horror flicks most notably the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), this film is refreshing solely because we encounter a completely Pakistani terror all Burqa clad and gurz armed (and thatâ€™s only the beginning!). But before I venture to the rather blood-soaked details let me begin by briefly summarizing the gruesome adventure.
Figure 1: Zibahkhana (2007), d. Omar Ali Khan, DVD Cover Art Â A car speeds on the Isloo-Lahore highway with a young man at the helm whoâ€™s either buzzed out of his senses or just simply tired, weâ€™ll stick to the latter because weâ€™re good like that! He revs up the engine to full throttle as he passes the milestone to Doozakhpur, the town from hell, and as soon as he does so heâ€™s greeted by Burqaman. The cat and mouse game has begun and our handsome extra meets a grizzly end with a hook through his chest and a blood soaked moon. Cut to the opening credits as Deewana (Rehan) knowingly warns, as much us â€“ the audience â€“ as the young group of friends, â€śJahanom kay raastay par chal diye ho, baachon, jahanom kay.â€ť With music reminiscent of a 1970s Helen film, mind you that tune is catchy, the camera slowly pans through the androon shehr of Lahore (Fig. 2). From jalebis being fried to parrots taking a break from predicting the future we are bombarded by images of contemporary Lahore, as we are introduced to the ragtag bunch of friends.
Figure 2: The inner city of Lahore in stark contrast to the protagonists own backgrounds, Opening Credits, Zibahkhana (2007), Film Still. Â Â In quick succession, we meet Roxy, Simon, Ayesha, and O.J. (Fig. 3), each lying to someone they know and love about their whereabouts that evening. These characters represent various socio-economic backgrounds and different forms of upbringing, for instance, Ayesha (Rooshanie Ejaz), whoâ€™s also the â€śFinal Girlâ€ť, is the good kid taking a big risk by lying to her mother. Similarly, Simon (Haider Raza), from the minority Christian community and whose father is a chamar, is here only because of his brains, which makes one wonder why he didnâ€™t have them all turn back in the first place (?!). To quote his father: â€śScholar-shit,â€ť indeed!Â On the other hand, Roxy (Rubya Chaudhary) and O.J. (Osman Khalid Butt) come from a world of privilege where thereâ€™s no one to question their decisions, therefore, allowing them the freedom to do what they want. As is evident the former two have the most too lose from this ill-fated road trip. Â Enter Vicky (Kunwar Ali Roshan) with the Pakistani version of the Mystery Machine at the very aptly named Orient Express Cafe. And so they are off to hear the Rockinâ€™ Gujjars in the middle of nowhere. On route they stop at Deewanaâ€™s dhaba, a makeshift truck stops thatâ€™s famous for its charas kay ladoos and just happens to be famous with the Queen, Lady Diana, and even Angelina Jolie. Deewana (Fig. 4) is the same actor that played the role of Dracula in Pakistanâ€™s version of the tale, Zinda Lash (1967), a fact that O.J. instantly realizes. Funnily enough there are constant references to Pakistani films within Zibahkhana, be it the music or imagery. Rehanâ€™s cameo aside thereâ€™s the actual clip from his film at the beginning when O.J. is being introduced, Maula Jatt wielding his gandasa figures prominently on the Toyota van, and then thereâ€™s the hits of Madame Noor Jehan (hereafter MNJ) or at least MNJ inspired! Khan self-reflexive inclusions make it clear in no uncertain terms that we are definitely in Pakistan! Â With all the signs of an eerie adventure ahead â€“ bumping into Simonâ€™s father, being accosted by hijraswishing them a long life, and Rehanâ€™s â€śjahanomâ€ť catch phrase â€“ the friends albeit freaked out still continue on their journey. After all, the Rockinâ€™ Gujjars must be worth it! Things, or as the common saying goes shit, hits the fan with a zombie attack. Deformed villagers, having risen from their graves, begin by first ambushing O.J. and biting a nice chunk off his leg. This is followed by another zombie pack-attack, which thoroughly freaks out our young cast. Roxy no longer wants to dance it up to some Punjabi tune, O.J. doesnâ€™t give a hoot about his weed, and all Vicky can think of is how to get the hell out! (Special mention to the midget zombie, talk about equal representation!) Â Â Figure 3: Lollywoodâ€™s â€śMystery Machineâ€ť with Maula Jatt imagery on the side. Photo courtesy: Raza Rumi. Â As is customary for every decent Horror film, they run out of gas and are stuck between Jannatpur and Dozakhpur. A rather telling coincidence donâ€™t you think? The first sign of death, and one borrowed scene-by-scene from the Hollywood original, the gang picks up a devilish-looking Hakim, Baley (Salim Meraj), who warns them: â€śMein tumhara khoon piyon gaâ€ť as he pulls out a severed head from his handy jhoola. And I thought Mayawatiâ€™s handbag was handy! His antics, as is evident, donâ€™t win him any fans and heâ€™s quickly kicked out of the moving van. If only things were as simple as kicking them out! A little further down that infamous highway and guess what thereâ€™s no gas. Duh?! This is where the action really picks up as the group decides to separate. Â Our resident jock, Vicky, leaves the gang on a moral high ground: â€śMaine hi tum logon ko iss musibat mein dala hai, mein hi tumhe is musibat say nikaloon ga.â€ť Waise I was expecting the jock with more muscles and all and instead we get a baacha right out from Grease, oh well, if he had more muscles Burqaman wouldnâ€™t be as intimidating, right?!Â On that note we bid Vicky adieu as â€śBaby comes out to play.â€ť And play he does in his squalid makeshift slaughterhouse. As if watching these kids die a gruesome death one after another wasnâ€™t enough, we are subjected to scenes of mutilation â€“ gouging of the eyes, hooking up the corpse, and so on â€“ to firmly reinforce the terror that engulfs us (more on this very shortly). One down. Four to go. Â Next up is our primadonna, Roxy, whoâ€™s seriously scared at this point. Kudos to Rubya Chaudhary for excellent acting although I still think her best performance was as Sara in Humsafarâ€™s parody (especially in the item song Thak Thak FK Kar Dil Pay Dastaak). This was perhaps the second best scene in the movie with a jitters-inducing soundtrack and a chase between Baby and Roxy. Now, now, Iâ€™m no fan of chase sequences but thereâ€™s something thrilling about giving the bad guy â€śthe loseâ€ť that just catches you off guard and in the moment.
Figure 4: Zinda Laash (English Title: Dracula in Pakistan), 1967, Film Poster. Â Â Speaking of off guard, enter Badi Bua. This is where the plot thickens, our killing twosome is actually a murderous threesome. Roxy stumbles upon a saree clad village woman who just happens to live in the middle of nowhere in a hut flooded with candles and copious amounts of fog (clearly the art director was at work!). What follows is a conversation about marriage and how girls are a bhoj on their parents and such typical aunty talk. Yet, we are subconsciously aware that Roxyâ€™s fate is sealed once Badi reveals that the Hakim is her son. Â Next up is Simon whose death is somewhat unremarkable just as his presence in the film. Baby follows him and Ayesha as they look for Roxy and then stabs him to death. Ayesha, the most conflicted of our characters and one with the most depth (sadly that depth is lacking in her acting skills), is best suited to challenge the monster because of her own chaste nature. Sheâ€™s the most religious of the lot as the tabiztestifies (Fig. 5), and she openly admits that this is a big thing for her as sheâ€™s lied and deceived her mother. In another chase sequence, one that draws upon the wilderness of Punjabâ€™s rural hinterlands, she finally manages to kill Baby aka Burqaman but is the nightmare over yet? So it would seem but as dawn breaks she bumps into O.J., whoâ€™s now (you guessed it!) a zombie. What happens next? Your guess is as good as mine because thatâ€™s the cliffhanger Khan leaves us with.
Figure 5: Ayesha after killing Burqaman. Her tabiz is extremely prominent in this final scene,Zibahkhana (2007), Film Still. Â Â Agreed that this is an over the top story (how many cannibals inhabit the G.T. Road or N.H. 5), a speculative plot (how many parents arenâ€™t checking in on their children every few hours, and IF they donâ€™t, they obviously havenâ€™t met my mother?), less than stellar acting (Rooshanie laughing as O.J. is fighting for dear life!), coupled with cheesy clichĂ©s (ding-ding-ding music et al) but it still manages to be entertaining and somewhat thought-provoking. Â Thought-provoking, you ask with a bemused eyebrow raise. Yes, I answer right back. At the beginning of the film we are shown a news story (Fig. 6) highlighting the lack of clean drinking water by the residents of Doozakhpur. In a succession of flashback like cuts we see mass protests with brazen banners and narasbeing maroo-ed against a willfully blind government. Awam ka gussa zor-shor say dikhaya gaya hai. Along with depicting the conditions that have made the water supply a veritable sewer: broken cane chairs, plastic bags, chappals, and chemical contaminants, which has resulted in the zombie-like conditions of the inhabitants. If we are momentarily allowed to scratch the surface, it is clear that these particular circumstances stem from an actual threat. Â At the time of Zibahkhanaâ€™s release, Pakistan was suffering from a massive electricity crisis, so much so that then PPP-led government installed rental power plants to curb the widespread shortage. Scenes of protest were an everyday affair such that one prominent journalist remarked: â€śRaja Ashraf saab aapkay rental power plants ka tal awam kay kaano mein aaj bhi goonj raha hai.â€ť Lack of government concern is not Khanâ€™s fictional creation but rather a ghastly reality that he draws upon. Unequal distribution of wealth and national assets, inadequate infrastructure in rural areas, and a rapidly modernizing city-centre that has forgotten the outlining areas such that its inhabitants have either turned into zombies because of contaminated drinking water or resorted to cannibalism to sustain themselves is a reflection not just of the government but also of our society. What have we come to? Â Figure 6: Newspaper clipping of contaminated water, Zibahkhana (2007), Film Still. Â Interestingly, Khan decided to draw upon the monstrous feminine in Badi Bua, which threw me off a bit given my trail of thought. I wondered what purpose Badi Bua served till I realized she was the reason her baby boy became a mutilated baby girl. After all, if somethingâ€™s wrong itâ€™s best to blame it on the mother, right?! In Zibahkhana it is the mother that is portrayed as the root cause of all-evil: it is her womb that harboured the monster, her upbringing nurtured the monster, and now the monster operates under her protection. Â Religion isnâ€™t left alone either. Throughout the film we see Ayesha clasping her tabiz, which incidentally reads: Allah-u-Akbar. And for the most part you would think that Khan is trying to reinforce that the religious amongst us can survive this aazmaish but such is not the case. Even though Ayesha manages to kill the monster and escape somewhat unharmed, her own friend, O.J., who is now a full-fledged zombie, ultimately attacks her, leaving her fate a big question mark (Fig. 7). Â Again I find the symbolism sharp and astute. Khan makes it clear that religion can only help us so far. Once things have been set in motion (such as those of infrastructure, corruption, lacking development, and so on and forth) even the faithful, tolerant, accepting, and kind amongst us are at peril and threatened by the system. O.J., in my opinion, becomes allegorical to a corrupt system that slowly breeds and poisons even the best of us. That is why Khan ends with that sequence and not with Burqamanâ€™s death, or it could simply be spine tingling entertainment. Either way Zibahkhana manages to be a good effort at reviving a slowly dying industry and requires both a high five and a full five snaps up!
Figure 7: O.J. attacking Ayesha, Zibahkhana (2007), Film Still. Â Â For a film that the New York Times (NYT) suggests is knocking on Talibanâ€™s door, I cannot help but wonder what message Khan wants to send to us. As is evident there are many, many interpretations to the monsters and threats that besiege us, question is are we prepared and willing to face them or will we cower in opposition? I guess only time will tell.