wogma rating: Watch but no rush (?)

quick review:

The heart doesn't reach out to any of Bol's characters. It is slow and gets repetitive and preachy about serious topics like mistreatment of the girl-child and sexual orientation. The treatment doesn't let you get too involved.

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Director: Shoaib Mansoor
Running time: 160 minutes
Categories: World Cinema
Genres: Social
More Movie Info

Bol (Bengali, English, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu) - Preview

Having been so blessed in life, I often think of the things that I should be grateful for. The list always seems to be never ending, but invariably it ends at one thing... that I was born a MAN. Nothing in the world scares me more than the thought of being born a woman or a eunuch in a country like Pakistan.

Those are the first few lines from Pakistani film, Bol's director's note. Why shouldn't I look forward to it given the premise? Moreover, I loved the director's (Shoaib Mansoor) earlier film Khuda Ke Liye. The anticipation of that kind of warmth and sensitivity being applied to a woman protagonist's plight brings goose bumps.

Interestingly, the trailer doesn't give away much about the story which is the way I like it. And yet it pulls you in.

It could just be because I've enjoyed the two Pakistani films I've watched. It could be because I read the director's note before I watched the film. It could be because the only things I have read about Bol (mostly on twitter), are superlative praises.

I usually like listening to the music for the first time while watching the film, so I haven't heard the music of Bol yet. But again, there's a good chance I will enjoy that because of the Khuda Ke Liye experience. Although I'm not the biggest fan Atif Aslam has. In fact, he has potential enough to annoy me. Hopefully, his acting skills will be better.

What are your thoughts about the film? Are you anticipating it as eagerly as I am?

- meeta, a part of the audience

Bol leaves you a huge "something is missing" feeling. The kind you can't point your finger at. Given the issue at hand, you are expecting a strong and what they call "hard-hitting" film. You know it will get preachy, you know it might be slow, you know it will be grim, so you are prepared for all of that. Given a topic as close to heart as "girl child" you want to be sucked into the drama and you want to be brought down to tears. But Bol forgets to engage with its focus on creating drama.

Bol's strength lies in its story which revolves around a very important topic. The dire situation of the girl child is not unique to Pakistan or Muslims. In remote corners of India, the same bias against giving birth to a girl child exists and it leads to heinous crimes. Bol creates a story around this issue and shows us the flaws in our society. It presents a different interpretation of the Qoran - the logical one, the one that actually glorifies Allah. An interpretation that should put to shame some of the current practices. The only irony is, in all likelihood, the film will never be seen by the people whose mindsets it wants to fight against. I won't be surprised if those people don't believe in watching films at all.

But, while making its point Bol becomes repetitive. And that's strange because it touches on two separate and vast issues and a few other issues like child molestation are touched upon. With so much to talk about, it shouldn't have had to repeat itself.

Along with the mistreatment of women, it comments upon transgender issues and their plight. But in showing the reality of how people think about these issues, I'm afraid certain misconceptions are reinforced. For example, how did a midwife know the sexual orientation of a child at birth? Is that possible? Maybe, I don't know enough.

Another factor that might have accentuated the disconnect is the performances. The lead actor, Manzar Sehbai the father of the girls who hated having them, had nothing menacing about himself and yet his wife and daughters were scared of him. He is a character we'd love to hate but he didn't even inspire that emotion. In fact, other than the lead lady, Humaima Malick, who plays the brave daughter, none of the actors made me feel anything for them. Even Humaima Malick's otherwise decent performance is watered down by the opening sequence and her spiel from the jail.

And yet, Zainub's tale, her all-important question in the climax are enough for me to recommend the film to you. It's a sad and depressing, longish story. The horrifying thing is real-life is only manifold worse than what is shown here.

- meeta, a part of the audience

16 reviewers(?) - 10 yays 4 so-so 2 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Anjum Shabbir, Bollywood Chaska : ...I’m all for supporting emerging cinema and believe in time we’ll be watching more and more films coming out of Pakistan, so would definitely encourage those interested in watching more meaningful cinema with a social message to give this a shot.... full review

Thumbs up, by Taran Adarsh, Bollywood Hungama : ...a courageous film that has the guts to expose issues plaguing the society. ... full review

Thumbs up, Buzz in Town : ...Bol is Bold. ... full review

Thumbs up, Daily Bhaskar : of the finest movies Pakistan has ever produced... full review

Thumbs up, by Martin D'Souza, : ...Atif Aslam as Mustafa, the neighbour who falls in love with one of Hakim's younger daughter, too pitches in with a fine performance. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Satyen K Bordoloi, Now : ...To see a Pakistani film that is better than most commercial Indian films, is embarrassing. "Bol", despite its few flaws, becomes that minor masterpiece that eclipses Bollywood.... full review

Thumbs up, by Mansha Rastogi, Now : ...Bol deserves a watch for its sheer brilliance in acting as well as storyline. It leaves behind questions that shake many rigid notions without getting preachy. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Shaikh Ayaz, Rediff : ...tears open the dichotomies and contradictions that make Pakistan what it is. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Sonia Chopra, Sify Movies : ...The film is not without glitches. The world of the sisters is too sanitized. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Gaurav Malani, Times of India : ...And with the outlook of the film focused only on domestic issues, the director refrains from giving any political overtones to Hakim's characterization and attributes his extremism to his orthodox upbringing and bigoted beliefs.... full review

So-So, by Ameetbhuvan, Desi Martini : ...Strong And Impactful ... full review

So-So, by Aniruddha Guha, DNA : ...moving, but also underwhelming... full review

So-So, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...The roots of Bol lie firmly in Pakistan’s contemporary reality, but its heart seems to be more in consonance with the traditions of commercial Mumbai movies than with the cinema of protest that it aspires to be.... full review

So-So, by Stutee Ghosh, Planet Bollywood : ...Then there are slips in the story and characterization that is unpardonable. The girls, their outlook and mannerisms do not bear witness to the tag of being uneducated and "paachvi - paas".... full review

Thumbs down, by Zia Ahmad, DearCinema : ...Bol is not necessarily a bad film. This doesn’t mean Bol is a good film either, in fact far far away it sails lazily in the seas of mediocrity.... full review

Thumbs down, by Sanjukta Sharma, Live Mint : ...The only really abiding reason to watch it is the lead performance by Malik.... full review

Twitter reviews for this movie are not available.

3 readers - 1 yays 2 so-so 0 nays

Not Interested in Watching, by diet pills

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Suman

So-So, by Arpita : I have anticipated it to be good movie it turned out to be worse...

So-So, by Samir

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Father beating his daughter. Murders.
  • Language: Clean Urdu.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: The first half revolves around the sexual orientation of one character. A whorehouse forms the center of the second half of the film. A rape is alluded to.
  • Concept: Mistreatment of girl-child and transgendered people.
  • General Look and Feel: Crisp, but a dark story.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:
Music Director:

Bol - Cast, crew, links

Official Sites:
Running time:
160 minutes

Comments (3)

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I thought that's an acceptable spelling.

@Samir oh is it? Didn't know this. Thanks and yes, should read up more :)

@Suman We seemed to have liked Bol just the same.

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