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BOL Review: Immersed in Lollywood

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BOL review by Diana (Italian Cinema Hindi Blog)

Rating: ****

Bol allows us to immerse ourselves in Lollywood (Pakistani cinema has not been spared the suffix borrowed from Hollywood, taking the first letter of the capital city, Lahore, which is the main stage of the Pakistani film industry).

Zainab (Humaima Malik) is in prison, having been convicted of murder. Before she is executed she requests to be able to tell her story. She is the eldest of five daughters of a very modest family in Lahore. Her father, Hakim Sahib (Manzar Sehbai), is the sole breadwinner, whereas the family's women remain confined within their home without being given the opportunity to study or to become independent, thereby becoming a financial burden. When the family finally sees the arrival of a much-desired male heir, the midwife confides in Hakim and reveals that the baby is a hermaphrodite.

A central theme in Bol is sexuality. In a conservative and repressive society, sexuality is seen as a taboo which often results in sexual phobias, morbid, violent or abusive behavior.
Hakim Sahib lives in a backward society. He acts in strict accordance to his beliefs, in defense of his dignity and integrity. His principles, however, lead him to incur in unacceptable behavior that has dramatic results on his family.
Hakim's character is highly intriguing and interesting. He is a man who loves his children and this is a fact that becomes clear during the second half of the film, during which the plot moves in crescendo. Once Hakim has stained his hands with the most terrible crime, without any hesitation or remorse, he proceeds to make amendments to his faith in order to accept a pact that is even worse.
It is the love of a parent who cannot love, a most dangerous and destructive type of love.

Shoaib Mansoor highlights with talent, intelligence and depth of analysis, the damage caused by ignorance and religious intolerance. It is an intense and brilliant film. It is a hymn to freedom.

Positive points:
- The main characters' acting. The best among them is the excellent Sehbai Manza, Humaima Malik, who has a beautiful and expressive face, as well as Shafqat Cheema.

- The dialogue between Hakim and Meena: "There is no other man to take care of them," says the old man.
"And here there is no other woman," says Meena, a prostitute who is the only source of income in a family consisting only of  men.

- The idea that a young woman can develop a modern and independent approach to life as well as an assertive personality despite having been raised in a repressive atmosphere.

Negative points:
- Sudhish Kamath, in his review (September 3, 2011, published in The Hindu), writes: "Despite its failings (in its first five minutes and the last five), it's a brave voice from Pakistan that deserves to be heard."
It is true, the film is so good that it is a pity that its beginning and the ending, which have a weaker script, are not up to the mark. Bol is not flawless, but it is a film that can be rated well above average.
- Shoaib Mansoor, directed the  award-winning film Khuda Kay Liye. About Bol he has said:
“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, where obscurantism has deep roots. It is very unfortunate that we make tall claims, full of pride, about the rights of woman granted by our religion and yet when I look around in underdeveloped Muslim countries in general and Pakistan in particular, I find things totally the opposite. Tragically, our interpretation and application of religion seem to begin and end with woman. Leave the five per cent urban educated elite aside, women seem to be the playground (battleground) where we practise a medieval form of religion.”
Read the full article.

- In Pakistan, Atif Aslam is a famous pop star. He has also sung in several Bollywood films, such as Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani , and even an American film directed by Ramin Bahrani, Man Push Cart, which had its world premiere in Venice in 2005 and won a FIPRESCI Critic's Award at the London Film Festival 2005. This is his debut as an actor.
For Bol, he has written and performed Aaj Bol Do and Hona Tha Pyaar .
- The film has set a new box-office record in Pakistan and has become the most watched film within its first week of release, surpassing the previous success of My Name is Khan .

Zainab - Humaima Malik
Hakim Sahib - Manzar Sehbai
Mustafa - Atif Aslam
Meena - Iman Ali
Ayesha - Mahir Khan
Chowdhary - Shafqat Cheema
Suraiya - Zaib Rehman
Saifi - Amr Kashmiri

Written and directed by Shoaib Mansoor

Produced by Shoman Productions

Music by Shoaib Mansoor, Atif Aslam, Sarmad Ghafoor and Sajjad Ali

Distributed by Geo Films and Eros International Ltd.

Year of release 2011

The official website of the film.

BOL review by Diana (Italian Cinema Hindi Blog)

1 comment:

Aline HindiCinemaBlog said...

Thank you so much for contributing this great review, Diana! I hope we continue to collaborate often! :-)

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