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.