Shoaib Mansoor is one of the brightest names to come out of Pakistan. A few years ago, his film KHUDA KAY LIYE, which tackled the theme of terrorism, won wide acclaim and praise. The supremely talented storyteller is back with another
bold and hard-hitting effort called BOL, which unmasks the dual standards prevalent in the society. In fact, we make tall claims about the rights of women and how they are equal to men, but if one looks around, especially in the under-developed
countries, the disparity and inequality is for all to see.
Shoaib is indeed a courageous storyteller and this film must have sparked off a debate when it released in Pakistan several weeks ago. Like KHUDA KAY LIYE, BOL addresses the religious extremism in the neighboring country. It's about a daughter who stands up against her father, but most importantly, she dares to defy the age-old societal norms that treat women as lesser beings. The fact that a Pakistani film-maker has had the courage to tackle this theme makes it all the more commendable and praiseworthy.
BOL makes you peep into the lives of a family living in Pakistan, making us aware of the predicament, the anguish, their determination to survive against all odds. The family decides to solve their problems, but get into deeper troubles gradually.
The struggle for life and death is what catches your eye.
BOL shocks and stuns also because of the sub-plots in the plotline and the twists and turns in the story. Of course, I wouldn't like to reveal the details and spoil the fun of watching this brilliant fare, but I'd like to add that one has rarely witnessed
such themes on the big screen. It serves as a wake-up call for the orthodox types on both the sides of the border.
BOL has a striking story to tell. It's about a Hakeem Sahab's quest to have a son that sees his wife give birth to fourteen children, but only seven daughters survive. The eighth is a hermaphrodite, much to Hakeem's embarrassment. The film
throws light on this family's problems and how each member of the family reacts to them, taking contradicting decisions and handling awkward situations.
BOL takes you on a roller coaster journey of emotions. A story that dares to bare the troubles of a certain society: the status of women in the neighboring country, the life of a hermaphrodite and of course, the quest for a male heir to keep the
family name alive. Admiring BOL and not appreciating Shoaib would be doing a great disservice to the individualist film-maker. He deserves brownie points for not just choosing a controversial subject, but also handling it with aplomb. That's not
all, for Shoaib has extracted wonderful performances from the principal cast.
Shoaib is a fantastic raconteur and you realize how talented he is at several points of the narrative. The difference of opinion between the eldest daughter [portrayed by Humaima Malik] and her father [Manzar Sehbai] is electrifying. You can feel
an undercurrent of tension every time they share the screen space. Also, the start of the film, when Humaima begins to narrate her story and the way her story unfolds, is shocking.
On the flip side, the narrative dips, albeit sporadically, during Iman Ali's portions. Besides, a song filmed on her wasn't necessary in the first place and looks like a complete add-on. Even her performance isn't as invigorating as the remaining
cast. Yet, despite the minor aberrations, BOL leaves you spellbound at the conclusion of the story.
BOL belongs to both Humaima Malik and Manzar Sehbai, who stand out with terrific portrayals. Both are splendid in their respective parts. Atif Aslam and Mahira Khan don't get much scope and they are strictly okay. In fact, Atif Aslam's screen
space is limited to a few sequences and a song or two. Shafqat Cheema is exceptional; it's a character that works very well in the plot. Zaib Rehman [the mother] is most effective.
On the whole, BOL is a courageous film that has the guts to expose issues plaguing the society. It raises questions, challenges the age-old customs and mirrors a reality most convincingly. A brilliant film embellished with bravura performances. Not to be missed!