Terminally ill Farooq begs his brother to fulfill his last request: euthanize him.


  • Rahul Aijaz: Director
  • Rahul Aijaz: Writer
  • Goethe-Institut: Pakistan Producer
  • Institute of Business Management Producer
  • Rahul Aijaz: Producer
  • Tariq Raja: Key Cast, “Farooq”
  • Nadir Hussain: Key Cast, “Raheel”


  • Project Type: Short
  • Genres: Drama
  • Runtime: 19 minutes 43 seconds
  • Completion Date: June 22, 2020
  • Production Budget: 1,800 USD
  • Country of Origin: Pakistan
  • Country of Filming: Pakistan
  • Language: Other
  • Shooting Format: Digital
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Film Color: Color

News & Reviews

Director Statement

The film ‘A Train Crosses the Desert’ comes from a deep personal place for me. I have been inspired and moved by the idea of death, and particularly suicide, for quite long. Losing my uncle to suicide when I was 5, and then losing my young cousin to cancer two years ago has had a lasting impact on me. And somehow both of these losses came together to instill an inexplicable feeling in me. I sometimes call it guilt. So perhaps this film is an expression of my guilt that I, along with everyone around my cousin, was helpless. It’s also an expression of a contradictory feeling of relief – relief that they are gone.
That is why I chose to write and direct this film.
I personally have been inspired by the works of surrealist filmmakers such as David Lynch, French New Wave filmmakers and Italian Neorealism. So I try to balance my words and visuals on a fine line between neorealism and surrealism. At any point, it could tip either way and it’s up to the audience to feel that push and pull.
With this story set mainly inside one room, I want the audience to feel suffocated in that tight space. I want the audience to feel they are in the room with these two brothers, one of which is dying and the dilemma of the other who has to decide whether to try to continue saving him by any means or give in and pull the plug.
Their lives are at a complete halt and by slowing down the pace of the film (to match the pace of the characters’ lives), the intention is for the audience to feel that they are living with these characters. With the subject of death, suicide and loss being universal, I feel everyone would be able to relate to this film.
This film has been created as part of the ‘Film Talents – Unheard Voices from Pakistan and Afghanistan’ program, sponsored by Goethe-Institut Pakistan. And I am forever thankful to them for giving me this opportunity and the freedom to work on something that’s truly personal and important to me. I hope that the audience finds this experience painful, confusing and it moves them as the process of writing, directing and making this film moved me.