The literal English translation of this week’s new release Bol is to speak out and talk - which this film does in plenty. Director Shoaib Mansoor has a reputation of speaking out on subjects otherwise taboo or dangerous. In his last venture Khuda Ke Liye he spoke of Islam, its interpretation and relevance in a modern society while in Bol, he takes another aspect of Islam and dwells on the inherent inequality between genders and the virtues of family planning. The film released 2 months back in Pakistan and releases in India on Eid.
The story is a touching tale. Hakeem Saab with his ability to produce only daughters (rather sarcastically put in the movie), his battered wife, five "paanch-paas" daughters and their life in shackles. Many commonly misunderstood tenets of Islam are questioned rather fearlessly which is a good thing for a society in flux but where does it stand on the high pedestal of world cinema? Hmm... That is exactly what I am coming to.
There are few unforgettable things about the film. First is the rather brave story itself with some bold powerful performances by Hakeem Saab (Manzar Sehbai) and his eldest daughter Zainub (Humaima Mallik). There interface almost always is electrifying. Also endearing is the knack of weaving in humor with a powerful story such as this while appeasing your funny bone. Laughs pop out from unexpected scenes. Contrasting Hakim Saab's world with that of a dancing girl, daringly spoofing everything from cricket fanaticism to Hakim's ability to have only baby girls indeed adorn itself in the league of intelligent humor.
However the fate of this story is the perfect case of aiming to be the bride and ending up as the bridesmaid. First is the length. It is long - something that the story does not warrant so you are bound to fidget in your chair a couple of times. 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". Take for instance the other daughter Ayesha (Mahira Khan) who takes only a few seconds to get acclimatized to the limelight and stage fright. The end of the film is also flawed. It’s too abrupt and the way loose strings are tied up looks almost childish. Making his acting debut is singer Atif Aslam.
Although his music in the film is good, his acting abilities strike a discordant note. Hope it proves to be a warning for him as much as it does for us.
All in all it is a film packed with emotion, high drama and humor. It manages to caress our heart and inspire us to question authority but could easily have been better had the numerous glitches had been avoided warranting a rating of 7/10.