Movie: Bol (2011)

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(English: Speak; Country: Pakisan; Language: Urdu)

This movie depicts social fissures at the heart of contemporary Pakistani society. It’s about a conservative religious family, it’s acute financial troubles causing loss of ancestral prestige, and the father’s troubles to come to terms with a transgender child in a society which is deeply prejudiced towards transgenders.

A prisoner on death row, who is about to be hanged, pleads with the authorities to tell her story before media representative as her last wish before she’s hanged. She is granted permission. The film goes back in time to tell the story of the prisoner.

The father is a traditional hakim-doctor who has sired 7 daughters one after the other in the hope of having a son. Finally a son is born to his wife but it turns out that the newborn is actually a transgender. The father is unable to cope with the “shame” of having a “eunuch” because he, too, would inevitably have to join the community of transgenders whose only way of survival in Pakistani society is to take up street dancing for profession.

The transgender kid now in his teens is murdered at the hands of the father when it becomes too much for him to bear. Police are silenced through bribery against the wishes of the eldest daughter. A painful ordeal for the family kicks in when one of the daughters rebels and the father tries to keep things in order, in vain.

The father, in the wake of conflict at home, tries to shore up his finances so that he can marry off his daughters with izzat (honour) of a respectable man. He ends up teaching Quran to the children of Red Light District, a job he was offered previously by one of his patients but which he angrily refused. There he is sucked into a plan to sire a baby girl through sleeping with the pimp’s so called “granddaughter”. He agrees to do that provided a nikah is recited.

The father is accidentally killed by the eldest rebel daughter when he tries to kill the little baby girl he sired with the courtesan. The baby girl is hidden by the family from being taken away by pimps. There ends the story of the female prisoner about to be hanged. Journalists try to stop her hanging but authorities fear of sensationalism and public anger if her story along with her is let out.

A dialogue in the film became famous. “Agar khila nahin sakte tou paida kyun karte ho“. Translation: Why do you give birth if you cannot feed (your children). It shows anger and disillusionment at having to bear with the pain and suffering of poverty and all the family conflicts it engenders. Humaima Malick, in the role of the prisoner on death row, has been wonderful.

This film captures an array of problems as well as vices of the Pakistani society and repackages in a commendable whole. I’d give it 4/5. IMDb Link

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