Gunahon Ki Basti (2008)
Cast: Adnan Shah, Ahmed Butt, Asha, Hina, Maria Wasti, Nida Chaudhary, Shahood Alvi, Shakeel R, Shiraz, Shiza
Director: Saeed Ali Khan
Nutshell: yet another I Spit on Your Grave variant with more “up-skirting” in a typically nauseating manner. Cinema at the gutter level.
Just when you thought you had plunged to the lowest depths of depravity! Gunahon Ki Basti is a film that is evidently quite heavily cut for its YouTube version and yet still manages to appall beyond almost any Pakistani film watched to date. It emerged from the local industry’s darkest hour of 2008 when cinema was in its death throes with producers relying heavily on smut for survival. Rasheed Dogar had cornered the market but sadly expired in a fire but Saeed Ali Khan, already known as Sleaze Ali Khan has honed his art for many a year peddling Pashto semi-porn for many decades with considerable success and it is Khan who helms this atrocity.
Gunahon ki Basti stars Nida Chaudhary who is a performer known primarily for her risqué and notorious stage shows and private mujras. She has been heavily in demand for her trademark salacious and vulgar “dances” which would even make those who grew up watching early John Waters blush with embarrassment. Not long ago her car was sprayed with bullets while she was performing at a stage show in Faisalabad. The irony being that most of those who enjoy her saucy gyrations are those who will complain loudest about how “vulgar and obscene” she is and how she and her kind are a slur on Pakistani morals and values.
Google has claimed that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia search more for “porn” than any other nation on earth. The two nations also claim to be closest to God. Go figure. Anjuman Shehzadi who was equally notorious on the stage and mujra scene was not so lucky and died in “mysterious circumstances” in 2011. Another Mujra Queen, Saima Khan, is another who was shot and nearly killed and fled the stage for fear of her life and was despised by the morally upright and yet packed theatres to the rafters whenever and wherever she performed to her adoring, drooling audiences. There are several other “actresses” who have gained infamy and notoriety as stage dancers and subsequently brought into movies with almost no acting skills other than gyrating and wiggling their assets and would make the Queens from Ru Paul’s Drag Race run for cover. Undeniable is the fact that those who fuel their success and demand them to lower the bar and their necklines are the very same who spit at them for being “unethical” and spreading filth. Men drive their success and yet squirm uncomfortably with their morality when they indulge in the very sleaze in which they revel.
Coming back to this particular slice of sleaze, it begins with Nida Chaudhary moving to a vast guest house in the secluded jungle to work on her novel! At the same time, we learn that there is a dangerous mafia making millions stealing timber from the jungle and selling it on the black market with bent cops and corrupt officials having their palms greased with accustomed ease in a land where corruption is a way of life. The Mafia finds an unexpected hinderance in their plans as a new, upright officer is made the new Forest Ranger in the form of ex Body builder turned actor Ahmed Butt who takes no nonsense and has the mafiosos running for cover badly hindering their trade.
Ahmed Butt turns out to be an ex college boy friend of Nida Chaudhary and upon meeting him she fantasizes a number of excessively vulgarly picturized songs drooling all over his muscular body. Its actually quite fascinating to watch Ahmed Butt turned into a sex object just as Nida Chaudhary is and considering that films of these kind are watched entirely by a male audience, there clearly is a male audience that enjoys drooling at the male physique along with her though officially Pakistani has no homosexuality. The songs basically replace the sexual act with plentiful thrusting and bulging and “dance movements” that simulate the sexual act. Its all highly perverse but something that Pakistani directors and dance masters have turned into an artform!
Almost every song, and there are plenty of them dispersed through the running time of this film are all presented as women fantasising lustfully over the male body. With a popular culture that objectifies and sexualizes women as lusting, drooling and filled with uncontrollable lust and desperate desire, the rape figures that emerge from these areas shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. If these films were released in the West, which Pakistanis consider the haven of obscenity, the directors and producers would find themselves serving prison time as “up-skirting” is now a crime in an increasing number of nations.
The plot of the movie is threadbare and just exists so that it can string along a number of sexual situations followed by ludicrous levels of depraved violence as the film turns into a sequence of gang rapes and then follow the familiar tone of so many before it; inspired by Meir Zarchi’s I Spit On Your Grave. The Gang rapes are depicted gratuitously over and over again and in the final half hour one of the victims who survives then seduces her violators and sends them packing in spectacular violent style.
The only surprising element of the movie is that the woman is left to live and the hero accepts her despite her being defiled and dishonoured. Which doesn’t really exonerate the film for being the grotesquely depraved and twisted experience that it is.
A vile piece of cinematic trash that has no merit and is typical of a double-faced society where women are objectified in the most offensive manner. A word of sympathy for Ahmed Butt however who started his film career when the rot had set in so badly that almost each and every film he has appeared in is in similar vein to this one where he is paraded just exploited for his body and to date one really doesn’t know if the man can actually act in any capacity other than as a muscular lump of flesh.
For anybody who has an interest in the Pakistani cinema and society of an overtly conservative Islamic society, this film and many of its kind (and there are plenty just like this one) would be fascinating to view. The moral compass is all over the place and the film reeks of a society with extreme double standards. As entertainment it was atrociously made enough to be amusing in parts but left an absolutely foul aftertaste in the mouth and the mind. Gunahon ki Basti is trash of the most objectionable kind but also an insight into a morally schizophrenic society.