September 4, 2011

Bol


I'm absolutely thrilled, not to mention honoured, when a sensible Pakistani movie comes out. Call it biased, but I love the movie even if I disagree with all of it. Because let's face it, we come from a place where the film industry thrives on women shimmying and writhing in brightly-coloured, blindingly-shiny neon lachahs that are 5 sizes too small for them. So when I see our talent emerging and sensible movies the like of Khuda Kai Liye, Azadi, etc. emerging, I will go out and support them 100%, and so should you.

That being said, I went to watch Bol on the second day of Eid. All the movie-review business aside, I liked the movie. I loved the technicalities, the filmography, acting, editing, blah di dum. I understand and agree with what it preaches about bigotry and hypocrisy. But the specifics of the film ticked me off, and these btw, are what your average audiences take home from the movie; your average audience that is passive and is not a very analytical/critical thinker. Your average audience that isn't too in-touch with Islam.

You see, Shoaib Mansoor has this very clever way of 'liberalizing' our society. Of making things that are wrong appear right. He did it in Khuda Kai Liye, and he did it in Bol again.

SPOILER ALERT.







When they show Zainub addressing her mother and sisters in the jail, she screams out,"APNE BURKE UTAARO AUR APNI ZINDAGI KHOD BANAO!" (or somehwere along those lines anyway). Loosely translated, it means take off yor burkas and do something with your life.
Seriously? My burka does not inhibit me in anyway, from doing anything that I please. If anything inhibits me, it's me, myself and I. Your clothes do NOT make or break your life, nor do they make or break you. Your clothes do nothign for you. YOU make your own life. Your clothes do not oppress you, YOU oppress yourself.

Or take the example of the character portrayals. The religious Hakim Sahab was obviously the bad guy. He was a bigot, he was angry, he was sexist, he was condescending. He was a bad father, a bad husband. He hooked up with a prostitute. He didn't keep his word. He was two-faced. But the pimp was a man of his words! He kept his word and OH! The cherry on top of the cake. The pimp who was so desperate for a girl child to flourish his business, let 4 beautiful young girls escape even when his deal with the Hakim Sahib went sour. Would a pimp really let these girls leave unscathed in a situation such as that? Watch the movie and then give me an answer.
How many hardliner mullahs have we seen in real life? How many of our brothers, sisters, doctors, teachers, etc. are like that? A true Muslim would never be hateful. A true Muslim would never be inhumane. A true Muslim would never be a bad father, a bad husband and he would definitely not be a murderer. Why, then, are Mullahs considered to be such a threat to us, eh? Why are religious people such a threat to our society when they don't even exist! This whole religious-man-bad-guy act is becoming a little too stale for my taste. If their only purpose was to highlight the wrongdoings of a CULTURE, then why bring religion in between? Islam is not the only religion that has hypocrites, so why show a practising Muslim to be a bigot? ALL THE TIME?!

Frolicking away on a motorbike with your boyfriend and going on dates is perfectly okay, but "Duaon ko pata nahi kya samajh liya hai humne".

Good going, Mansoor bro, good going *applauds*.

Or how about the time when they show the mother and sisters at the end doing well with their lives, but taking off their dupattas once they're well off. What is that about? Does not wear a dupatta liberate you in any way? You could be traditional or hold on to your morals but still be really successful.

Look, I'm not trying to be hateful here. But yes, I am knit-picking, if that's what you wanna call it, because the specifics are what the audiences generally remember, and what they take home. What is the general view of the pimp that we had? Even though his character was a bad man, the audience had a positive perception of him because he was a man of his word, he wasn't a hypocrite, he helped out the Hakim Sahib in his time of need when the Hakim was previously demeaning and disrespectful of the pimp. But with the Hakim, we had a bad image of him from the start. He was quick to get angry, he was abusive of his women, he was self-righteous and a bigot. Most of all, he was a murderer, and a maniac who's blood boiled at the sight of anything that was not acceptable to him. What image of the pimp and the Hakim do the following descriptions leave on your mind? Who's the good guy, who's the bad?

There were positive aspects of the movie as well, but the reason I'm concerning myself with the negatives is not because I'm a bitter old woman who likes to troll on good effort. NO. It's because I want to open people's eyes to how we are subtly manipulated by the media. We tend to question Hadiths and Qur'an more and find loopholes in it as compared to the media, which we accept without questioning.


The fact is that many people will take home what the movie is portraying, thinking it to be the correct thing Islamically as well. I've seen it happen. Not with one, but several people. Moreover, I'm a media student and I'm actually in the process of studying the effects of mass media as we speak, so it's not likely I'm completely clueless about these things.What I just want people to do is to watch the movie with an open mind. Be critical. If something seems doubtful, question it and seek the right answers.

In the end though, I would once again like to applaud the movie for truly matching up to the professional standards of thriving movie industries, and for addressing issues that need serious addressing in our society. Despite its shortcomings, Bol undoubtedly forces its audiences to think, which is the first and the most important step towards a positive change that we need in our society. It is important though, that while we think and learn from this movie, we mustn't abandon all our principles and morals that we hold on to, but seek the right answers and strengthen our characters to be the catalysts for a positive reaction in our society.

CAN I GET AN AMEN?!

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think u expressed the angst, anger that I felt after watching Bol pretty well. Shoaib Mansoor is part of the beghirat brigade that hates mullahs and divert every issue from the corrupt elite towards them as they are the source of all evil, yet everyoneknows the religious elements have been manipulated used, and the real power lies with these elite thugs who want less focus on them and more on attacks on the only institution that works in Pakistan that is family.

Rani said...

Although I haven't watched the movie ( my friend narrated the whole movie to me), I have to say.. this is a very good piece of article. It just makes me want to watch the movie!
Keep it up :)

BoogieMonsterMan said...

Thanks Anon - I agree with what you said about Shooaib Mansoor using religious elements manipulatively.

Rani-- Thank you so much! You should definitely watch the movie, with a critical perspective albeit. It's a good one :)

Sundus said...

I see perfect balance in the way you put it. Yes the movie was well-made. No the principles portrayed were not that great.
Thumbs up habeebti<3

BoogieMonsterMan said...

Thanks Sundus, thanks for reading! :)

secret.whispers said...

the problem with filmmakers is that they get obsessed with their successes. so they make the same thing over again thinking it was just the subject matter that made their movie successful. i think that's what shoaib mansoor did. i haven't seen bol but from what i've heard/read it seems like he just went with the bare bones of KKL. the corruption of religion and the manipulation of religious leaders in our country.
it worked fine with KKL but i don't think that subject can cut it twice by the same filmmaker.
however, the reason he keeps portraying the mullahs as the bad guys is because lately that's what mullahs are. obviously not all religious people are crazy maniacal zealots. but the majority are. they're freaky man.

at the same time, i do hate that people associate being religious with limitations. yes there are certain restrictions in islam, but the restrictions are made for protection not to limit us. just because i'm religious doesn't mean i can't go to school, be independent and make my own way in the world. i think lately the line between oppression and religion has become very blurred. and that makes me really sad :(

Bushra said...

You've pretty much summed up every reason why I wasn't all jumpy and excited when I heard Bol was out in theatres- that too in the most eloquent, petite, and on-the-dot manner. So firstly, kudos for that!

Secondly, as much as I earnestly support 'decent' Pakistani cinema, I think I just lost my appetite for the movie after reading the spoilers. It all just sounds like the same old story to me.

Thing just is, how can people go out to fight for what they believe in, if they don't really even KNOW what they believe in.

Its tragic. To me, once I look beyond all the excitement of a hit Paki movie, I just see another chance lost to project ourselves and our beliefs in the correct right.

Nope, Shoaib Mansoor, I'm sorry I'm not impressed :/

hijabi hippie hypo said...

Great post. I agree with you about thinking for ourselves and trying to analyse the subliminal/subconscious messages the media feed us.

I NEED TO SEE THIS FILM! lol.

BoogieMonsterMan said...

Rabie-- and what majority would that be? No WHERE would that majority be...a handful of people are not the representaton of such a huge population..

@Bushra-- Rightly said!

@HHH- Agree! Thanks :)

secret.whispers said...

where AREN'T they?! I haven't met a single mullah in pakistan in recent years who doesn't have some kind of crazy ass zealot idea.
i mean of course i also know other super religious people who are normal and not crazy. but those are a handful people.

in fact i've hardly heard/met a mullah who didn't twist Islam around to an unrecognizable condition.

secret.whispers said...

of course i'm only talking about pakistan here. not the rest of the world.

and i do want to stress that i do not mean that every religious person is crazy and extremist and has their own agenda.

n.khan said...

Hmm, i completely and truly agree with you on who a true Muslim is.
" Why are religious people such a threat to our society when they don't even exist!"
well they dint say that Mullah was a true Muslim, and it was pretty obvious that this is not what Islam teaches
the point is in Pakistan, religion and culture go hand in hand, they overlap, our religion has so much influence on our culture, be it clothing , norms, ethics etc. Our religion is definitely not our culture but our culture has adopted many things from our religion.
Now why mullahs are such a threat, the easiest degree to get in Pakistan is the Islamic degree, any ordinary person who isnt accepted into the program they wanna do end up doing Islamic degree. The thing is we need some knowledge to actually understand religion, we need to preached in a way telling us the true meaning of Qur'an, so u can think the kind of teacher that would be teaching them, most of them dont really understand Qur'an themselves, i mean me n you we all know the quality of education in any ordinary college or academy in Paki, less than 1% of the government wealth is spent on education.
so back to the mullah thing, when these ppl who have little knowledge and "shaoor" they interpret Qur'an the way they like, they take away things which they think are beneficial to them, ex: if the Qur'an says beat your wife, it doesnt mean you can do that on anything you dislike , only on cases where u feel that ur wife is involved in some kinda fornication/adultery, or if they say you can marry four times, you can only marry if you have valid reasons like wife is handicapped, or too many women in a population ie after a war, but all this has to be done with the agreement of the wife and Qur'an says that you can only marry more than once if you think u can be fair to all of them, NOW who is gonna look at all that, who will understand all this when the thinking hasn’t developed, not much knowledge, not educated well, education in a sense : about the world and about the way we should live our lives in society so when they get the degree, they wanna be a Mullah, or they thing that they have enough knowledge to be one, just coming on television and translating Qur’an doesn’t really make them a good Mullah or Muslim, I m definitely not saying all are like that, there are many good ones but then these I think they are the majority and when they interpret Islam, they do it according to what they understand and what they take from it or well what they “want” to take from it , anyone can study Qur’an and hadith but then not everyone can actually understand it, understanding religion requires some background knowledge and understanding, why are we reading Qur’an, what does all that’s said means? Not everyone understands that right? Esp in a place where education systems are not the best, and education is def not the priority.
recenty on ARY a mullah was arguing with an NGO women saying that women in our country are not abused and girls are not raped, i mean they can blindly believe all this doesnt happen or have no knowledge abt it but we know the truth
so the Mullah in bol is act one of the many men in our country who interpret our religion in an extremely wrong way
And yes the ending didn’t seem realistic n it was more like a complete makeover, i personally didnt like it, yes i think they could still have been in their dupattas and been very successful.

we question things we want to know more about or we disagree with and our society doesn't question media much cause media represents our society, so maybe the things shown in the movie are actually some of the things that are present in our society. There might be some deviations but I guess all in all it was pretty much what actually happens, this movie isn’t what me and you and the people around us think/feel/do and how we interpret Islam but it is how people in Pakistani society do, we still are far away from the true realities of our society, all this is more objective than subjective.

n.khan said...

Hmm, i completely and truly agree with you on who a true Muslim is.
" Why are religious people such a threat to our society when they don't even exist!"
well they dint say that Mullah was a true Muslim, and it was pretty obvious that this is not what Islam teaches
the point is in Pakistan, religion and culture go hand in hand, they overlap, our religion has so much influence on our culture, be it clothing , norms, ethics etc. Our religion is definitely not our culture but our culture has adopted many things from our religion.
Now why mullahs are such a threat, the easiest degree to get in Pakistan is the Islamic degree, any ordinary person who isnt accepted into the program they wanna do end up doing Islamic degree. The thing is we need some knowledge to actually understand religion, we need to preached in a way telling us the true meaning of Qur'an, so u can think the kind of teacher that would be teaching them, most of them dont really understand Qur'an themselves, i mean me n you we all know the quality of education in any ordinary college or academy in Paki, less than 1% of the government wealth is spent on education.
so back to the mullah thing, when these ppl who have little knowledge and "shaoor" they interpret Qur'an the way they like, they take away things which they think are beneficial to them, ex: if the Qur'an says beat your wife, it doesnt mean you can do that on anything you dislike , only on cases where u feel that ur wife is involved in some kinda fornication/adultery, or if they say you can marry four times, you can only marry if you have valid reasons like wife is handicapped, or too many women in a population ie after a war, but all this has to be done with the agreement of the wife and Qur'an says that you can only marry more than once if you think u can be fair to all of them, NOW who is gonna look at all that, who will understand all this when the thinking hasn’t developed, not much knowledge, not educated well, education in a sense : about the world and about the way we should live our lives in society so when they get the degree, they wanna be a Mullah, or they thing that they have enough knowledge to be one, just coming on television and translating Qur’an doesn’t really make them a good Mullah or Muslim, I m definitely not saying all are like that, there are many good ones but then these I think they are the majority and when they interpret Islam, they do it according to what they understand and what they take from it or well what they “want” to take from it , anyone can study Qur’an and hadith but then not everyone can actually understand it, understanding religion requires some background knowledge and understanding, why are we reading Qur’an, what does all that’s said means? Not everyone understands that right? Esp in a place where education systems are not the best, and education is def not the priority.
recenty on ARY a mullah was arguing with an NGO women saying that women in our country are not abused and girls are not raped, i mean they can blindly believe all this doesnt happen or have no knowledge abt it but we know the truth
so the Mullah in bol is act one of the many men in our country who interpret our religion in an extremely wrong way
And yes the ending didn’t seem realistic n it was more like a complete makeover, i personally didnt like it, yes i think they could still have been in their dupattas and been very successful.

we question things we want to know more about or we disagree with and our society doesn't question media much cause media represents our society, so maybe the things shown in the movie are actually some of the things that are present in our society. There might be some deviations but I guess all in all it was pretty much what actually happens, this movie isn’t what me and you and the people around us think/feel/do and how we interpret Islam but it is how people in Pakistani society do, we still are far away from the true realities of our society, all this is more objective than subjective.

n.khan said...

That’s a really nice article though! and also about the burqa as she said, I interpreted as something more symbolic than the actual burqa itself, meaning how burqas have been stereotyped in our society and linked with oppression, burqa clad women cannot stand up for themselves, thats what any ordinary pakistani would think, forget me and you, the burqa in Pakistan be it unconsciously is linked with abuse and oppression, women in tribal areas and places like Khyber and all those places are oppressed and the majority of them wear burqa there , so unconsciously people have formed a link between burqa and oppression. Ofcourse that’s not everywhere and that’s not what we think but then there are many people in our society who think it is.
Women maybe be abused or oppressed everywhere but as Pakistan is one of the countries where women rights don’t really exist. And as being a Muslim country where u can see women in hijab and burqas ,people connect these things together and people in our society do that.
But we know that’s not the truth, there’s a lot of other things involved and not just the religion itself.