Cinema in Pakistan; Bol

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Cinema in Pakistan has seen its golden days and witnessed the slow decline too. The release of the film Bol may or may not be just what it needs to grow again.

Submitted: March 12, 2013

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Submitted: March 12, 2013




Media; Bol, revival of cinema in Pakistan


“Speak that they lips are free” the very famous words of the well-known, South-Asian poet and writer, ‘Faiz Ahmed Faiz’. The words themselves give their meaning; to speak not being afraid of something and that freedom of speech is a right that everyone has.

Who has not heard of ‘Bol’ recently? Shoaib Mansoor’s recent hit is all over the media. Released on 24th June, it still continues its march to success. This seems to be a new turn in cinema for Pakistan, but is this success strong enough to bring a change in the declining film industry of Pakistan?

The film industry of Pakistan began it’s strive following the partition in 1947. By then Pakistan had three main filming stations, Karachi, Lahore and Dakka. Ill-equipped and shortage of films paralyzed the film industry. Eventually Pakistan’s film industry began to grow. The first few hits like ‘Teri Yaad’ and ‘Do aansoo’ reached mediocre success. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the age of Ayub Khan was the golden age of cinema in Pakistan. Many films released became legends on the silver screen. The relations between Pakistan and India were not in a stabilized state during that time. This caused all Indian films facing an immediate ban in Pakistan. This, as a matter of face, brought more success and viewers to the Pakistani film industry.

The period of decline began with Pakistan loosing the Dakka wing of its industry, also loosing a number of cinemas in the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. The industry saw more influential members moving to the newly found Bangladesh industry. This came to them as a serious blow. Though it seemed to have regained its status with the release of the film, ‘Dosti’, which was a great success.

Apparently it seemed that decline was the industry’s fate. The introduction of video cassette recorders (VCR) declined the number of attendants in cinema. Films all over the world were being copied into it and people preferred watching films in the comfort of their homes. This also brought with it the disaster of ‘film piracy’ into the industry. Surprisingly, once again the industry saw its success in ‘Aina’ receiving a diamond jubilee, though this too was not to last long.

In president Zia-ul-Haq’s period, the film industry was truly at the brink of disaster. His rules of Islamisation targeted the cinema at first. The film industry faced imposition of new registration laws, many cinemas were forcibly closed down in Lahore, leading to a steep decline in the work of the industry.

Not quite surprisingly, the series of ups and downs for the film industry had not yet come to a halt. The industry saw its revival in the age of president Musharaf. As young film-makers took on the productions, high quality content was brought to the viewers.

The year 2010 was evidently the worse in the history of filming in Pakistan, releasing only seven films with only one success.

After a long lull in the film industry of Pakistan, ‘Bol’ came as a reason to turn towards the cinemas again. After the release of ‘Khuda ke liye’, Shoiab Mansoor brought yet another hit in the form of ‘Bol’.


‘Bol’ meaning to ‘say’ or ‘speak’ is the Urdu film written, directed and produced by Shoiab Mansoor, starring, Humaima Malik, Atif Aslam, Mahira Khan, Imam Ali, Shafqat Cheema, Manzoor Sehbai, Zaib Rehman and Amr Kashmiri. It is the story of a bold, young, lower-middle-class, Pakistani woman who is the eldest of many sisters. She narrates her story as a last wish before being hanged for the murder of her father; the story of ‘Bol’. The story is her attempt of protecting values of humanity against her father who commits numerous crimes in his blind desire of having a son.


The film highlights many moral and social issues that are faced both in India and Pakistan in today’s world. The film was run across theatres in Pakistan, India and the United States; an international release after several years. It gave the world a chance to get a glimpse of what life in Pakistan is like, also showing the potential that potential that the film industry of Pakistan has of producing record breaking films. It also gave recognition to south-Asian singers and composers for their talent in music which was once highly regarded all over the world.

In India, Tushar Pahwa relates to the film in the words, “Bol is a ubiquitous film, every one can relate to it. Women and transgender are disrespected in India and Pakistan both. I just hope people start to speak up after watching the movie.” The film was apparently a hit in India as well.

The reason why ‘Bol’ has had such a success was probably its strong story line. It highlights a true portrait of the fight against extremism in Pakistan. ‘Bol’ reflects a picture of struggles faced with in the nation that is easily missed out in the mainstream news reports.

The film had also given a rise to the Pakistani artist, Atif Aslam, who had previously gained fame in Bollywood, with his debut in ‘Bol’ he has now upgraded his status in Pakistan. But yet again, is the film’s success enough to bring more inspiration for such projects in the future and give a rise to the film industry that we have slowly seen, fall to its decline?

It is true that the film has truly won an audience and future projects have also begun. Though throughout the years, the film industry has seen many ups and downs, from 1948’s film hits to 2010’s disastrous productions. The cinema of Pakistan has such a history that always being one step from disaster, it miraculously produces a hit. The question is how long this saves the industry. Or is this the beginning of a new era in the film industry?


The industry has, no doubts, a great deal of talent and potential, the success of pre-60’s and the 60’s and the 2007 and 2010’s hits, ‘Khuda ke liye’ and, ‘Bol’ prove this. For now, all we can do is hope for changes in the cinema productions holding onto the success ‘Bol’, future projects will hopefully bring the industry more success.



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