Boli is an intriguing retelling of Rustom and Sohrab's century-old tale. Filmmaker Shankha Dasgupta and writers Naseef Faruque Amin, Jaheen Faruque Amin, Rabiul Alam Robi and Sardar Saniat deserve to be applauded for choosing this unique subject for their story.
The cast of 'Boli' boasts well-known faces including Chanchal Chowdhury, Shohel Mondol, Iresh Zaker, Sohana Saba, Safa Kabir and Salauddin Lavlu. The web series' trailer and original soundtrack sparked a lot of excitement.
'Boli' sets off on a good start. The plot is engaging and draws you into the story. The makers created a compelling setting, which, when combined with the constant presence of the stormy Bay of Bengal rumbling in the background, gives the story an unsettling sense of foreboding. But it changes as the story progresses.
The plot centres on the lawless Cheradia Island, where Sohrab aspires to be the sole ruler, possessing powerful connections and the ability to terrorise the populace. His power begins to dwindle, however, as his closest kin abuses his position and enrages the wrong group of people when they come across a wanderer.
Rustom, an unexpected guest, threatens Sohrab's authority. The atmosphere is reminiscent of Hoichoi's recent 'Mandaar'.
Boli, on the other hand, does not live up to the promise of the first episode. The narrative is dragged down by repetitive sequences of Rustom grappling with Sohrab's men and getting beaten up in the process. The plot revolves in circles indefinitely, making it tedious and boring to watch.
The story picks up again in episode five after what seemed like an eternity. But first, we are treated to a barely romantic angle involving Rustom and Ayesha, the daughter of the local Imam. For no apparent reason, the girl develops feelings for the guy and vice versa.
Ayesha's character is also the most uninteresting character in this series. It is as flat as sawdust and devoid of nuance. The writers try to portray her as a poor motherless girl but they do not succeed in making the audience care about her.
The character of Anarkali, the female lead, is more nuanced than Ayesha. Unfortunately, Anarkali is dropped from the storyline midway, depriving the rest of the story of its only vivacious character.
Rustom's personality is as boring as a blank piece of paper. He is constantly getting beaten up and in need of being rescued.
To top it off, Shohel Rana portrays Rustom with an odd detachment and disinterest. There is no way to pique our interest in Rustom and Ayesha once we have lost interest in them.
Boli makes good use of blood, gore and violence. But we have seen this a million times before in a variety of films and television shows.
The use of violence in storytelling has become even more pronounced with the rise of streaming entertainment. The use of semi-rural settings lorded over by crime lords has also become more common.
In terms of treatment or plot devices, Boli has nothing new to offer. The island and its inhabitants appear to be cut off from Bangladesh's rural reality. The men's characterisation is also a little sloppy. The majority of the men in the show display toxic masculinity.
Despite numerous plot twists being there, they are introduced in such a dull and uninspiring manner, with no fanfare or cinematic flourish, that they fail to make an impression on the audience.
The conclusion is ambiguous and abrupt, leaving the viewer feeling dissatisfied and irritated.
The cinematography of Tahsin Rahman is captivating to some extent. The gray-hued frames are enhanced by the play of light and dark, shadows and silhouettes. Although the out-of-focus scene is disappointing, the real fight is taking place somewhere else and the camera is focused on other locations.
Russell Panna's editing is professional and effective. In scenes that needed to be more subtle and sombre, Emon Chowdhury's background score is a tad over-the-top.
Ramin Djawadi's iconic Game of Thrones score appears to have influenced some musical sequences. Overall, they did an amazing job with the title track.
The trailer and original soundtrack of 'Boli' sparked a lot of interest but it disappoints the audience on multiple levels. There is a lot of room for improvement - from the plot to the execution. As viewers, we sincerely hope that this talented cast and crew will produce better work in the future.