Na Maloom Afraad is a story of three reckless poor struggling souls, running after their individual ambitions and desires, brought together by one incident which makes their not so simple ... See full summary »
Mohsin Abbas Haider
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A story of a middle class guy, passionate about becoming an actor and prove his worthiness to his family. Ditching a job interview as a favor from a father to his son, the story leads to new endeavors.
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Zainub Khan has been found guilty by Pakistan's Courts and is to be hanged. Her last wish is to tell her story before the media, and after approval, she relates how her family was compelled to leave Delhi during 1948 and re-locate to Lahore. This is where her father, Hakim Sayed Hashmutallah Khan, married Suraiya, and hoping to sire a son, instead ended up with 7 daughters. The 8th child turned out to be a hermaphrodite and Hashmutullah wanted it dead but Suraiya insisted that she will not let anyone know so as not to shame her husband. They named the child Saifullah, and hired a tutor to teach him at home. After a failed marriage, Zainub returns home, notices that the tutor was molesting her brother and asks him to leave. With dwindling income from his father, unable to attend school, his mother giving birth to still-born babies, his siblings uneducated, Saifullah is then himself compelled to seek employment. It is here he will be sexually molested and subsequently killed by his ... Written by
Sometimes the prevalent brutality of reality subdues our senses for long enough to declare barbaric actions as legitimate. Barbaric laws as legal necessities. Allow this status quo to brew and grow for generations and centuries and it results in a stymied populace perpetually terrorizing itself through doctrinal teachings that classify and rank human beings. Bol not only rejects the age-old foundations for grading humans based on gender, but provides inspiration to a self-terrorized society about the beautiful possibilities that emerge if we choose to speak up and break the shackles inherited from the past.
Shoaib Mansoor (Shoman) knows how to paint a story in all its hues without losing the end picture if you will. His previous works are a homage, a reverence and a celebration of dance, poetry, music and art. His foray into film with Khuda Kay Liyay gave the impression that Shoman was not content with making great music or entertaining television serials. He wanted to take on a society that was increasingly duplicitous and constantly bending to the whims of obscurantism and willing to bury its beautiful heritage. With Bol he has again come out all guns blazing. Shoman isn't merely showing the mirror to society but goes for the jugular in a nihilist barrage against a decadent order represented by Hakim Syed Shafqatullah played by Manzar Sehbai.
Shafqatullah's inherited but hopelessly dwindling business in herbal medicine in an era where exposure to medical science had won over the sick contrasts with his attempts to maintain a secluded, pure existence at home. His daughters cannot leave home much less work. However, his unmet desire to father a male child infuriates him and the frustration is taken out against the females of his household.
In many ways it is a reflection of contemporary Pakistani Muslim society which cannot cope with the brutal truths of science and seeks remedies in the shrubs of faith. When that doesn't work economically weak individuals, groups and minorities are made scapegoats and used to create a mirage of power for the majority.
But this is a movie, not a post-modern feminist narrative. Furthermore, it is a Pakistani movie in an era when desperate attempts to resuscitate the film industry have yet to deliver results. Shoman continues to carry this national burden along with his socio-political message inserted in an entertainment medium. How does a single director take up these challenges within a three hour time frame while not losing the audience? Enter Shafqat Cheema playing the role of Saqa Kanjar from the Old Lahore red light district where moral standards are turned head over heals with female children valued and males seen as a burden. Apart from infusing the film with heavy doses of comical entertainment, the character simultaneously sets up as the foil to Hakim Shafqatullah. While the preference for female children as future money earning prostitutes offer a resounding contrast, it also highlights the middle-class urban religious moral standards where women are only be perceived in two categories: either as heavenly pure or slutty whores. These extreme ends give comfort to morals of mortals. So Syed Shafqatullah can digest sleeping with a dancing girl but refuses to allow his daughters to find a clerical job since that would be morally confusing.
Today's Pakistan is society in a flux where everyday honor killings have become an acceptable norm. The demonic of codes of honor have become the moral standards which need to be met for living a dignified life. Thus, Saifi, the eunuch child of Shafqatullah, meets a fate often read in the headlines of daily papers. Shoman deliberately refuses to grant audience the ease of moral extremes and constantly forces them into the gray unknowns of life where the purity of human emotions and desires prove to be more resilient and worthy of admiration than edicts and mechanical structures of faith. When Humaima Malik declares she has committed murder, but not sinned, we are forced to question the concepts of crime and punishment in theological jurisprudence. The sequence of sin equaling a crime necessitating punishment is broken. A sin may not be a crime, and so negating the need for punishment.
There are several flaws one can point to in the film. Atif Aslam's role was under-utilized. Cinematography was weak. At times Humaima's dialog turns preachy and may have been better and more powerful if left unsaid
but then again, the title of the movie suggests otherwise.
Shoman's ability to hit the nerves sets him apart from from many a famous director and script writer. He could achieve far greater success and fame if he stuck to merely entertaining audiences. But Shoman uses cinema with all its potential to plant the seeds of change. Khuday Kay Liyay was one of the three most successful films of all time. To this day, its music and message cause headaches as they confront the conservative orders of society. Bol goes several steps further. Sometime from now, the National College of Arts or other institutions teaching film studies, will be analyzing these films that carry within them both the analysis of a nation as well as a positive vision for the future.
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