Bol – disrobes reality, shocks, angers, stuns, numbs and…

by Shoaib Mansoor, the critically acclaimed director of Khuda Kay Liye,
is brutally hard-hitting cinema. When movie makers choose to depict
societal evils, they have a choice – either they can pay lip service and
make the depiction an insignificant sidetrack or they can choose to
take the bull by the horns – that is when they do real justice to their

is cinema without storytelling? When the story entertains, we
appreciate it because we want to escape reality. In living our fantasies
through our cinematic idols, we revel in their exploits, dance steps,
riches, conquests and triumphs! When the story is closer home in its
grounding, we tend to sometimes brush it aside, choosing to label it,
‘not for the faint hearted/weak hearted’/ ‘bold’/’hard-hitting’/’art cinema’
etc. By categorizing movies as mass entertainers, we have started
committing a grave injustice, injustice to the intellect of the masses.

in Pakistan, in a quasi-urban landscape, Bol is the story of a single
family’s travails and tribulations. Hakim Saab (Manzar Sehbai) in his
quest for a male child ends up with seven daughters and a hermaphrodite.
The most rebellious and vociferous in the household, the eldest
daughter, Zainab (Humaima Malick) confronts her father every time his
ego and male chauvinism shackles the household.

Child sexual abuse, the
perils of growing up as a girl child in an ultra conservative and feudal
environment, corruption in police ranks, prostitution, societal
attitude towards hermaphrodites, their humiliations, Shia-Sunni divide,
all compounded by a single man’s egoism and chauvinism – this is Bol!

(Mahirah Khan Askari) is lucky enough to be charmed by Mustafa (Atif
Aslam), the boy next door. She falls in love with him and among Zainab’s
many crimes in the eyes of her father, giving Ayesha’s hand to Mustafa
is also one. Humaima and Manzar are both excellent, the former in her
restrained anger and agony, verbal barbs and jibes and the latter in his
seething hatred of his eldest daughter and his inability to reconcile
with his conscience. Atif gets to emote little, Mahirah is just OK and
the other girls end up as helpless spectators of a charged battle. The
movie disrobes reality,shocks, angers, stuns, numbs and in the end,
leaves us with a flicker of hope – a hope that is beautiful in its
potential to transform lives.

in the song ‘Hona tha pyar’ is awesome. It manages to juxtapose the
natural beauty of the landscape alongside the frail existence of Mustafa
and Ayesha. Among other songs, Dil Janiya is my favorite. Mumkin hai
is the very voice of hope! Shoaib Mansoor, hats off, hope this serves
as an inspiration to other talented craftsmen in the sub continent.

it is high time, the masses too start asking themselves – do we want
movies that are escapist or do we want movies that question accepted
norms and ask uncomfortable questions? With the World in turmoil – debt
crisis, austerity measures, Arab dissent and frustration with farcical
democracies – isn’t it time for cinema to become a vehicle of the
collective and for the collective, in articulating their real voices for
a change? The scope and potential is huge, who has the guts to take the

Sivaraman Natrajan