Cannibalism? Necrophilia? “Durj is Essentially a Suspense Thriller with Strong Emotions” says Shamoon Abbasi

Shamoon Abbasi’s Durj is much in the news owing to its unique storyline that among other things, touches on the macabre – the film is based on true life incidents of cannibalism that occurred in rural Punjab a few years back. The slick, well-made trailer had our curiosity piqued, so we decided to get in touch with the man behind the film himself, who has written, directed and produced it besides being its lead antagonist. Over to Shamoon…

On whether Pakistani audience is prepared to watch dark themes such as cannibalism and necrophilia on the big screen…

“Well, these days local audiences are exposed to all kinds of entertainment on foreign channels, and are even watching shows on Netflix. So I believe the education and exposure is definitely there, and with the kind of response our trailer has received, I am pretty overwhelmed and am confident that the audience is ready to watch such reality-based themes on the big screen. And even if they are not, it is our job to experiment and prepare the audience for something new.”

On the movie being labelled a horror film…

“The trailer might give the impression of a dark horror film, but trust me, Durj is a lot more and is actually a suspense thriller with a strong emotional and romantic underpinning. The trailer just reveals certain bits about the movie, but there is much more to it than the dark themes. Watch the movie and you will be surprised. We actually provide the backstory to why the villain behaves the way he does – as twisted as his justification might be for his behavior, unlike most productions with similar themes, it is there in the film. Also, there is no gratuitous blood and gore – I have never been fond of films such as the ‘Saw’ series (from Hollywood).”

On the dedication of his cast…

“In a certain part of the movie, (actor) Sherry Shah has her hair shaved off on screen. Not many actresses would have that kind of dedication to agree to shoot such a sequence. Not only that, she also put on 40 lbs. for the character as it required a regular physique. I had to grow a beard and develop a certain kind of look for the villain’s character and then maintain it for almost a year and a half. All of this entailed missing out opportunities and financial sacrifices as well. “

On the sound mix for Durj

“We have used a hybrid sound mix for the film – on some locations where we were shooting, it was not feasible to record in sync sound, and in certain sequences of the film, sync sound was coming out right. So we have ended up using both sync sound and voice re-recording techniques.”

On the movie’s release date

“We have just released the trailer, which has gone viral and frankly we are still dealing with the immense response. We have received inquiries for the film from many countries abroad and would like to potentially go for an international release in countries such as Russia, Eastern Europe, UK, and United States etc. In Pakistan, we completed the film without financial backing from any channel or any big production house, which in itself is an achievement. Nothing is finalized as of now as far as the movie’s release date is concerned.”

On his motivation behind the project

“The purpose of the film is to raise awareness about loopholes in our judicial system that enable criminals to continue perpetrating their crimes. In reality, the individuals arrested for cannibal activities were allowed to roam free after being in prison for just 2 years, because a law to prosecute such a crime does not exist in this country.”

Written by Faisal Ali H

I work as an economist and maintain an active interest in Pakistani cinema.


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