Review: ‘Bol’

An authoritarian father's iron grip on his family leads to inevitably tragic consequences in Pakistani writer-director Shoaib Mansoor's ripe, hot-button melodrama, "Bol."

An authoritarian father’s iron grip on his family leads to inevitably tragic consequences in Pakistani writer-director Shoaib Mansoor’s ripe, hot-button melodrama, “Bol.” With TV star Humaina Malick in her feature debut as the clan’s rebellious daughter, and pop star Atif Aslam providing sex appeal as a neighbor, the pic has proved a solid B.O. performer, topping $1 million worldwide in summer 2011 release. Depiction of ultra-orthodox Islamic morays, a transgender character and the state’s use of the death penalty renders “Bol” more controversial than the helmer’s 2007 “In the Name of God.”

With: Humaina Malick, Atif Aslam, Iman Ali, Mahira Khan, Shafqat Cheema, Manzar Sehbai, Zaib Rehman, Amr Kashmiri, Sagar, Rashid Khawaja.

(Urdu, English dialogue)

Condemned to death, pretty Zainab (Malick) insists on telling her life story on the gallows. This positions much of film as a long flashback, with brief jumps to the present as reporters protest for a presidential pardon. Her father (an effective Manzar Sehbai), a hakim or medicine man, struggles to support a family of daughters and a transgender son (Amr Kashmiri), whom he treats with unending shame and an oppressive hand. Zainab’s slow-burn blow-up finally comes, but not until after an awkward plot detour involving Dad with an evil pimp (Shafqat Cheema) and a calculating courtesan (Iman Ali).




An Eros Entertainment (in U.S.) release of a Geo Films presentation in association with Shoman Prods. Produced by Shahid Jamal, Shoaib Mansoor. Directed, written by Shoaib Mansoor.


Camera (Technicolor, widescreen), Salman Razzaq; editor, Armaghan Hassan; music, Baqir Abbas; songs and lyrics, Sajjad Ali, Atif Aslam, Sarmad Ghafoor, Shoaib Mansoor; set decorator, Fatima Jilani. Reviewed at Palm Springs Film Festival (World Cinema), Jan. 10, 2012. Running time: 165 MIN. (I: 91 MIN.; II: 74 MIN.)

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