A new Pakistani movie is breaking all box-office records here, and it's doing so by focusing on issues rarely discussed openly in Pakistani society such as women's rights and sexual identity.
"Bol", which means "speak" in Urdu, has offered a rare glimmer of hope for a once-flourishing Pakistani film industry that has been on virtual life support in recent years as Pakistani moviegoers favored Hollywood and Bollywood productions at the expense of local films. A climate of growing insecurity and the widespread availability of the latest theatrical releases in DVD format have further hurt the industry by convincing many Pakistanis to watch movies at home.
So it came as a bit of a surprise to many observers when "Bol" earned more in ticket sales in its first week than My Name Is Khan, a 2010 Bollywood movie and the record holder until now.
"Bol" owes part of its success at the box office to the large-scale marketing orchestrated by one of the leading media conglomerates in Pakistan, but its appeal is also due to its unusually candid look at subjects that remain taboo in many sectors of Pakistan's society.
"Really looking at what are the issues, I think is essential," said Salima Hashmi, the dean of the School of Visual Arts at Lahore's Beaconhouse National University and a friend of Shoaib Mansoor, the movie's director.
"It's the only thing that makes Pakistanis go to the movies." "Bol" follows the story of a Pakistani father and his struggle to reconcile his religious conservatism with the aspirations of his daughters.
Throughout the movie tension rises between him and his eldest daughter, in particular over the treatment of his only son whose uncertain sexuality causes his father's despair and wrath.
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