DEHLI: Facing stiff competition from Salman Khan’s Bodyguard on Eid, Pakistani film Bol is managing to hold its own thanks to the word of mouth publicity.
Dealing with multiple issues ranging from misogyny to prostitution to fanaticism, Bol is director Shoaib Mansoor’s second offering after Khuda Ke Liye. Bol was released alongside mega blockbuster Bodyguard, ‘That girl in yellow boots’ and ‘Mummy Punjabi’. Unlike Khan’s masala movie, Bol offers a riveting storyline and great acting, with people publicising the film more than the PR agencies.
For starters, there is actress Vidya Balan who says, “Loved Bol! Love the performance of the father. The boy who played Saifuddin was cute. My heart went out to him.”
As one of the audience members, Tushar Pahwa, walking out after a show puts it, “Bol is a ubiquitous film- whether a Muslim family in Lahore or a Hindu family in Bihar, everyone can relate to it. Women and transgenders are disrespected in India and Pakistan both. I just hope people start to speak up after watching the movie. It was a good gift for Eid.”
Many have given the tickets to family and friends in beautiful gift envelopes as eidi. “This was my eidi to my sister The film’s message has been well received and I felt my sister must see this movie as an example,” says Shahnawaz Siddique, a shop keeper.
Film critic Taran Adarsh says, “I have a problem with the distributors of Bol, who have come up with a wrong strategy to release the film at the same time as Bodyguard. I think this was a blunder. If it were released at any other time the collections would have been much higher. The word of mouth publicity of the film is good and I would like to say that it is definitely doing better than the other two movies released the same week.”
Even the distributors are happy with the increasing popularity of Bol. Amita from the corporate communications of Eros International, the distributing company, explains, “Media across the board has liked the film and has been extremely supportive of the film. The response has been positive overall. It was the company’s strategy for a worldwide release on Eid. As for India, the numbers are still pouring in but in the middle east the film is doing very well.”
Even Salman Khan fans have expressed their liking for Bol. Pankaj Mishra, a movie buff who watched both Bodyguard and Bol on the same day explains, “There is no comparison between the two. While one is a masala movie for the masses, the other is a serious issue based film. It is sad but true that masala movies always do well in India as they are over hyped and well marketed. The real good cinema gets left behind. Bol is a brilliant film and off late Pakistani movie makers are doing a good job.”
Adarsh also emphasises the brilliance of the film, “I think it is one of the most amazing films to have come out of Pakistan. Shoaib Mansoor excelled in Khuda Ke Liye but this film has gone beyond that.”
People are already watching it twice. Sunita Sinha, another movie buff has a reason to do so, “For me the film has a strong message and inspires me to be brave. I can actually watch it again.”
The tag of a film from Pakistan is one of the main attractions. Anshu Sondhi, a film student, had to see this film as she missed out on Mansoor’s Khuda Ke Liye. She supports the film, “Bol's concept is different and the actors are good. It gives us an insight into the Pakistani society and we Indians always want to know more about Pakistan. We want to understand the country and the people beyond what our governments want us to believe and see. Movies like Bol bring us closer to our neighbours.”
Kritika Rai, a businesswoman came to know about the film from a friend. She says, “We Indians don’t have that sense to appreciate good movies like Bol and we waste our time on watching stupid movies like Ready and Bodyguard. I think we should support good cinema whether it is from India or Pakistan.”
There is a buzz about Bol in Bollywood also. Many screenings of the film were done before its commercial release. Naseeruddin Shah, icon of Indian cinema, who was to play the role of the father in Bol, praised the film. In an interview to glamsham.com, an entertainment magazine website, he admires the film, “Bol is absolutely the kind of film that Khuda Ke Liye should be followed up by. It deals with an even more important statement like faith and empowerment of women. I have seldom seen a statement made with as much power and feeling as this film. This is yet another film to be proud of. I can only find myself wishing I was a part of this film."
Bollywood has welcomed the movie from across the border and have supported the idea of art beyond boundaries. Samir Soni, who acted in films like Kabhie Khushi Kabhi Gham, Fashion and others explains, “To coexist and prosper we need to have a better understanding of each other and issues that affect us. It is only then we realise how similar we truly are and this ends fear and resentment. Cinema is perhaps the most important medium that takes you up close and personal and should not be bound by political boundaries.”
The social theme of the movie has attracted the intelligentsia. Rukmini Sen, a senior entertainment journalist, describes the film as “rebellious, brave and original”. She adds, “Bol talks about the state of third gender in Pakistan. Condition of women and third gender is pathetic in most parts of Asia so the film represents the silence of many of us. Bol deconstructs issues of sexuality and sexual identity very sensitively. It sees the issue in its larger context of patriarchy, feudalism, religion and nation state.”
The treatment of the story is much talked about. Satish Sharma, a painter by profession after watching the film appreciated the director’s strokes. “It was a joy to see how the director puts some of the old world wisdom in the right perspective. Whenever the father of the actress tried to escape a situation by quoting old quotes, she would correct him by putting his lines in the correct perspective. I thought it was intelligently handled.”
While the praises are outdoing the critics, but not all have liked the film. Babita Verma, a social worker by profession objects to the melodrama in the movie especially while dealing with real issues. “It began at some point and ended at another. The director moved away from the plot. It was not comprehensive and dragged at the end,’ disapproves Verma.”
Some have even believed the word of mouth publicity to be the truth. Karishma Kapoor, a teacher, has not seen the film based on her friend’s feedback. “I have heard it is long, technically poor and acting is bad. After this feedback I don’t think I want to go and watch the film. I will catch it on television, as it is a film from Pakistan.”