A hakim (traditional medicine-man) opens the Quran to a particular page and shuts his eyes as his index finger hovers over the page. It comes to rest after a few seconds. The hakim opens his eyes reads the line his finger points to and closes the holy book. This is how he takes his decisions -- of whether he should kill his transgender child or not or if he should go against his conscience and enter into a second marriage with a tawaif (erstwhile courtesan, now often synonymous with a commercial sex worker) and make some money by secretly parenting a girl child. I have not come across a film where blind faith has been depicted so subtly, yet so powerfully.
And that is why Shoaib Mansoor's film, Bol, is a must-watch. I loved his Khuda Kay Liye for the differences between culture and religion it brought out. I liked Bol because it celebrates the spirit of women, even when their circumstances are the most unfortunate.
Set in Lahore, the story revolves around an extremely conservative hakim (Manzar Sehbai plays the character to a T), who, in his quest for a male child, has fathered 14 children. As the only earning member of the large family, he forces on his seven surviving daughters a life full of restrictions and denial, to keep them under his control. Gradually, his divorced eldest daughter, Zainub, starts questioning his decisions and beliefs. Unable to form the words to answer her queries, he resorts to violence, but that only makes her bolder. To escape the jabs of his conscience, he seeks refuge in religion. But he follows faith blindly, choosing only what he wishes to know and read and that slowly destroys his family, his honour and him.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Bol, which means words in Urdu, relays more than just the story. Go, watch it now.