amr kashmiri

Pakistani Film Addresses LGBT Rights

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual rights are almost non-existent in Pakistan. Certain sexual activities are still punishable by life imprisonment, and same-sex relationships are harshly shunned. But one film has made an attempt to address the society’s attitude towards this.

Bol (2011), directed by Shaoib Mansoor, is a courageous film about a girl on death row. She tells her sorrowful story to the crowd before she dies, and unravels every piece of Pakistan’s social tapestry and it’s problems.

The film addresses many of the social issues in Pakistan, including capital punishment, domestic abuse, misogyny and honour-killing. The heart-wrenching plot includes the struggle of Saifi, a young eunuch coming to terms with his identity in a country where it is still taboo to be homosexual.

The actor who played Saifi talks about his role as a eunuch:

Documenting Lives

Another brave director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, co-director of the award-winning documentary Saving Face, has addressed LGBT rights in her Channel 4 documentary Transgenders: Pakistan’s Open Secret. Disowned by their families, begging on the street and heckled by society, the film shows the lives of this alienated group in Pakistan.

Bol, a film to tell everyone about

Bol (Speak) is a film that makes you physically sick. But it is a film that demands to be watched. It makes you face the disgusting things humans in this world do, which is something that people in this increasingly individualistic, materialistic world have forgotten how to do.

Throughout the movie, when you think the worst is over, it keeps going on. The plot centers around a strict Muslim Father who makes the lives of his daughters, eunuch son and wife a living hell.

Shaoib Mansoor, who also brought us Khuda Ke Liye, took 2 years to make this budget-movie which was released this Summer. But it was worth it. Even singer Atif Aslam has said he didn’t mind playing a controversial role as the movie was for a good cause.

Some of the issues covered include domestic violence, sexual abuse, forced marriage, honour-killing, the unfair treatment of eunuchs, tensions between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims, police corruption, government ignorance and capital punishment.

Amr Kashmiri who plays 'Saifi' at the London Asian Film Festival 2012

Amr Kashmiri who plays ‘Saifi’ at the London Asian Film Festival 2012

Before anyone says, “here goes the Islamophobia again”…the film is made by Muslims. And they are not necessarily conveying anything negative about the Religion itself, but how it is used and misinterpreted.

Surprisingly for a Lollywood movie (yes, there is Lollywood from Lahore), covering such a wide span of social issues within Pakistani and South Asian society, the film was approved by the Central Board of Film Censors for release.

The title, Bol, and the ending of the story tell us that people, and especially women, need to speak up in societies like the one in this movie. Hopefully, this film will encourage them to do so.