Business rating: 2 stars
Star cast: Manzar Sehbai, Humaima Malick, Shafqat Cheema, Atif Aslam, Amr Kashmiri, Iman Ali, Zaib Rehman.
Plot: Humaima is sentenced to be hanged to death for a murder she has committed. She tells her heart-wrenching story at a press conference she addresses minutes before the appointed time of hanging.
What’s Good: The bold story; the interesting screenplay; the terrific dialogues; the fantastic acting; the music.
What’s Bad: The depressing feeling one gets up with; the slightly lengthy drama.
Verdict: Bol is a fantastic fare, entertaining and thought-provoking, but it should not have come in direct opposition to Hurricane Bodyguard.
Loo break: Not really.
Watch or not?: Definitely watch it – it’s an eye-opening film!
Geo Films and Shoman Productions’ Bol is about how life can be a veritable hell for a girl born in the orthodox Muslim community in Pakistan. With this as the base, the film raises a pertinent question which would beg a debate: if it’s a crime to kill somebody, why is it not a crime to give birth to a child when the one giving birth cannot provide for the basic necessities of that child?
Shoaib Mansoor has penned a very hard-hitting story and an extremely thought-provoking yet entertaining screenplay to highlight the travails of women of orthodox Muslim families in the ultra-conservative Pakistani society.
Hakim Saab (Manzar Sehbai) is a God-fearing and orthodox Muslim whose business is declining with each passing day. His obsession for a male child makes him beget a child every year but to his misfortune, his wife (Zaib Rehman) delivers a girl child one after another. After seven girl children, his wife one day delivers a child who is not a girl. To the family’s horror, the newly-born is a eunuch. Hakim Saab would rather strangle him to death than live with the shame of fathering a eunuch but his helpless wife’s pleas to her autocratic husband to spare the child make him relent. With no male member to supplement the father’s earnings, the family falls upon terrible times but orthodox Hakim Saab will not dream of allowing any of his daughters to work. He will also not do anything that his religion, orthodox outlook and idealistic principles won’t allow him to do. As if that is not enough, the eldest daughter, Zainab (Humaima Malick), has left her matrimonial home and returned to her parents’ home because of physical ill-treatment by her husband. Unknown to Hakim Saab, Ayesha (Mahira Khan), another daughter of his, loves their neighbour, Mustafa (Atif Aslam). The family members dare not reveal this love affair to the patriarch because while they are Sunni Muslims, Mustafa is a Shia Muslim.
As hardships come knocking at Hakim Saab’s door every day, the frustration among his daughters keeps rising. Zainab often revolts against her tyrant father who, therefore, hates her for her outspokenness. In other words, Hakim Saab has two people in his life whom he detests – Zainab and his eunuch-child, Saifi (Amr Kashmiri).
As the drama progresses, Hakim Saab one day kills Saifi in sheer frustration and unable to any longer bear the humiliation of having fathered a enunch-child. The wife and daughters are angry and disgusted with Hakim Saab but have no option other than to be silent spectators. The police get wind of the murder and blackmail Hakim Saab, asking him for a hefty sum of money as bribe to hush up the case. But Hakim Saab has no money to feed his family, what to talk of the hefty bribe amount. Unable to bear the prospect of him rotting in jail and the family dying in hunger, the wife forces Hakim Saab to misappropriate the money he holds in trust in his capacity as the treasurer and pay that money as bribe only to return the money to the trust once he has enough of it. Very reluctantly, Hakim Saab does that. Now begins the struggle to earn money so that he can return it to the trust before anybody gets to know that he had used trust money for his personal need. But Hakim Saab fails. Scared that his reputation of being a very honest man would be tarnished, the orthodox Hakim Saab now accepts a proposal he had rejected some days back with condemnation – he agrees to teach the Koran to the children of a brothel-keeper, Chowdhary (Shafqat Cheema) – just so that he can supplement his dwindling income. His new job entails him to visit the brothel-keeper’s home everyday on the sly and even eat from the same plate as Chowdhary in the latter’s house. Not being able to gather enough money to repay the misappropriated amount, he borrows the sum from Chowdhary who gives him the money but, in return, asks him to sleep with his own (Chowdhary) courtesan-grand daughter, Meena (Iman Ali), to beget a girl-child who, on growing up, could earn money for him (Chowdhary) by turning a tawaif. Hakim Saab is repulsed by the offer but he has to swallow his pride to safeguard his reputation of being an honest man because he needs the money badly and urgently. As luck would have it, a girl-child is born to Hakim Saab and Meena but the very prospect of his daughter selling her body when she grows up, makes Hakim Saab shudder. He smuggles the new-born out of Chowdhary’s house and takes her to his own house. All hell breaks loose when Hakim Saab’s wife and daughters realise who the new-born child is.
What happens thereafter? Does Chowdhary let Hakim Saab live with the new-born or does he go to claim her back? What is the stand Hakim Saab’s family takes vis-à-vis the child? Does Hakim Saab’s wife have the courage to revolt against him? Does Zainab revolt against him?
The entire film is narrated in flashback when Zainab, about to be hanged for murder, decides to address a press conference to reveal why she committed the murder. The audience is, till almost the end, not aware of whom she has murdered and why. One journalist in the press conference, convinced that Zainab should be pardoned, keeps asking the president’s personal assistant to request the president to reverse his execution order which is to be carried out in a few minutes. Does the president save Zainab from being hanged to death?
Bol Review – Script Analysis
Shoaib Mansoor has written such a strong and powerful story and with so many layers that it shakes the viewer. No doubt, the script is depressing because it shows so much poverty, adversity and tragedy but it is also disturbing and entertaining in a different way. The drama unfolds in such a brilliant fashion that the audience can’t help but marvel at Mansoor’s genius. Dialogues, also penned by Shoaib Mansoor, are veritable gems and clapworthy at many places. In particular, the dialogues in the entire track of interaction between Hakim Saab and Chowdhary in the latter’s house are mind-blowing. Every dialogue mouthed by Chowdhary in this track is worth a million bucks.
The drama is a bit long-drawn and could’ve done with further editing.
Bol Review – Star Performances & Direction
Manzar Sehbai shines as Hakim Saab. He does such a wonderful job that it would seem as if he were born to play this role. His acting is worthy of awards. Humaima Malick plays Zainab with all the conviction at her command. She is first-rate. Shafqat Cheema delivers an award-winning performance. He plays to the gallery and comes out a winner in every single scene. Atif Aslam is endearing in a brief role. Mahira Khan is good. Amr Kashmiri does remarkably well as Saifi, the eunuch child. Iman Ali looks ravishing as courtesan Meena. She plays the character to perfection. Zaib Rehman leaves a mark as the docile wife of Hakim Saab. Others lend terrific support.
Shoaib Mansoor’s direction complements his script wonderfully. He has made a film that is both, entertaining and thought-provoking. He has extracted great performances from out of his actors. His narrative style is worthy of awards. Music, by Shoaib Mansoor, Atif Aslam, Sarmad Ghafoor and Sajjad Ali, is extremely nice. Lyrics (Shoaib Mansoor, Imran Raza, Ayub Khawar, Sajjad Ali and Ali Moeen) are meaningful. Salman Razzaq’s cinematography is splendid. Armughan Hassan’s editing is very nice.
Bol Review – Komal Nahta’s Verdict
On the whole, Bol is a masterpiece of a film. It has merits to score at the box-office but coming as it has in direct opposition of Hurricane Bodyguard, it will have to pay the price. Sustained promotion is a must if the film is to realise its potential at the box-office and not die a premature death at the hands of Bodyguard.