Movies can be broadly classified into three categories – (1) Pure entertainers, (2) Thought provokers and (3) Blood boilers. It is this third genre that Director & Producer Shoaib Mansoor’s Bol subscribes to. The blood boilers are precursors to upheavals. These stab, wound, hurt and make your heart bleed. These shake you up from century-old slumber of apathy, ignorance and indifference and make you wonder how civil human society is which so lovingly nurtures butchery and barbarianism in its folds.

Bol uses a bi-lingual format (Urdu/Punjabi). Its contextual texture is multi-layered as it cudgels up a whole gamut of socio-political issues having a striking relevance for the entire Indian sub-continent. Bol adequately captures the doddering but adamantine patriarchy in the wake of enlightened rebuttal – the effete and the obsolete asserting in the crudest, cruellest and crookedest fashion challenged by impeccable logic and cool rationale. Defiance leads to a sanguinary battle.

The President of Pakistan receives a strange appeal from one of the convicts. Zainab is sentenced to death on charge of murder.  But before she is hanged, she wants to narrate her life’s story to the media. Unusual plea…surprisingly the President gives his assent allowing Zainab (Humaima Malik) to recount the horrifying tale of seven sisters and their mother, battered, bruised and beaten by the onerous demands of a patriarch, in pathetic bondage of his own prejudices, obdurate to the call of changing times.

Zainab’s confession, “ Main qatil hoon par gunaahgaar nahin” elevates an apparently heinous and unpardonable offence to the stature of remedial necessity. Bol thrives on discomforting issues stirring collective conscience. Zainab’s heartrending outcry “Agar maarna gunaah hai toh paida karna kyun nahin?” leaves a shrill echo behind.

From female foeticide to rehabilitation of transgender, objectification/ commodification of women to corruption in the corridors of power, the menace called bureaucracy and the derogation of the aam junta whose plaintive cry is stifled unceremoniously lest it perturbs the power be, Bol weaves such contentious issues in an explosive saga of love, rebel, betrayal and above all dauntless courage.

Bol’s narrative is non-accusatory and non-judgemental. Bol does not tell but shows. The helplessness of parenting a transgender whom the society refuses to acknowledge as human is made home ruthlessly when Zainab’s father, Hakim Sahib (Manzar Sehabi) asphyxiates his only son with a plastic bag in the dead of the night.

It’s a quirk of fate that the austere Hakim Sahib is forced to betray his family and remarry a tawaiyaff (Prostitute – Iman Ali) whose obsession for Meena Kumari and a flawless talaffuz (accent) is nothing but a hangover of a decadent era.

Bol pivots around the paradoxes of a society in transition where the past and the present co-habit inharmoniously. Frictions are inevitable. The quiet waters have strong undercurrents. Bol disrupts this calm brutally. Its attacks are unexpected sometimes below the belt and at others head-on punches, resulting in a pandemonium of blood and gore.

As Mustafa (Atif Aslam), Ayesha’s (Zainab’s younger sister – Mahira Khan) husband tells Zainab, “The main problem of our society is that nobody speaks…”

And when Zainab does speak, a rebellion is reared.

Are you ready for it?

Bol was released in 2011. It broke all previous records (held by My Name Is Khan) becoming the highest earning film in Pakistan.


About gc1963

A working woman with interests in reading, writing, music, poetry and fine arts.

2 responses »

  1. Respected Geeta Ji,


    I have heard a lot about Bol but could not muster courage to watch this heart-piercing tale on the screen. The reality is horrifying to the hilt in this regard but even more painful thing that you have asserted in the review through a quote from Mustafa in the movie is ‘that nobody dares to speak’. Speakers are punished in barbarian ways and the humanity may die of shame but not the wrongdoers who continue to live with their heads high and a penchant to repeat their heinous crimes against innocents This has been continuing for decades and there is little hope that the things will change in the foreseeable future. Rebels are bound to be sacrificed but the most unfortunate aspect of the whole tale is that the sacrifices made by them go in vain (in this context only). Their crucification does not lead to any change in the society because the fear is just too much and the villains are considered as too mighty to take on because of the force of the system behind them. I have not watched Khamosh Paani till date for the same reason as behind not watching this movie. Similar things are happening continuously in some parts of our country too where highly patriarchal agencies are forcing the young females to either die or accept to spend the life under relentless suffocation. Does the world deserve to be called a civilized place for the mankind to live when such things are beyond repair ? History only may lead to emancipation which will come with an exorbitant price to be paid by the generations that might be living at that point of time.

    Such movies come a cropper on the commercial front when pitted against the glossy and the out of the world potboilers which again evidences the apathy spread like anything in the so-called civilized audience. I am also guilty because as said above, I am too scared to watch such realities which I feel, are hard to be changed in a reasonable period of time. But will watch this movie now.

    And your review which is more a mind-stirring and blood-boiling (the same way this movie is) article is something I am not finding myself as competent to assess optimally. Every word speaks out the passion that has gone into its writing.


    Jitendra Mathur


  2. gc1963 says:

    Mathur Sahab,

    I was looking for the online link for the film Udaan when I coincidentally came across Bol. Like Antardwand, Bol is an edge-of-the-seat movie though both deal with serious issues. But once you start watching these movies you cannot leave them midway. That is the power of cinematic medium well used to tell an impactful story with a message.

    For once I disagree with you. We should not shy away from watching these films however heartrending they may be. The purpose of such movies is to create awareness and focus public attention on issues which are more than often side stepped or brushed under the carpet.

    We educated audience can at best watch and contemplate over the issues raised by these blood boilers. Its the word of mouth which has made many a movie hit and critically acclaimed. However. Bol was a block buster. The Pakistani Censor Board passed the movie in one day which reflects its intention to draw attention to the prevalant malpractices in society and a desire to change the situation.

    Change in society comes imperceptibly not overnight. In our little capacity we can spread word about such films, debate freely and build a public opinionin favour of a just cause. Remember you have to be the change you desire. Therefore I implore you to see the movie and let me know your views by way of a review.

    I am posting here the link for whosoever browsing this post desirous of watching the movie online:

    Thanks for being on the post



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