Boli: A crime thriller with wasted potential
Currently streaming on the platform, Hoichoi, "Boli" is a crime thriller web series directed by Shankha Dasgupta. Boasting a star-studded cast including Chanchal Chowdhury, Shohel Mondol, Iresh Zaker, Sohana Saba, Safa Kabir, and Salauddin Lavlu among others, it was released on December 3 to much anticipation.
The story revolves around the lawless Cheradia Island, where Sohrab longs to reign as the sole authority. He is backed and aided by the religious figure of the village, with powerful connections and the ability to cause terror among people. However, his influence begins to dwindle as his closest kin exploits his authority, and angers the wrong group of people, who come across a wanderer. The series progresses as Rustom, the unexpected guest, threatens the authority of Sohrab.
The trailer of the web series and its original soundtrack set expectations reasonably high. One can easily sense the rippling potential beneath the rustic veil of the plotline. However, from the very moment it begins, "Boli" fails to live up to any of the expectations it may have unintentionally laid out.
The island and its inhabitants seem detached from the rural reality of Bangladesh. The characterisation of the men remains rather glib, too. Whilst most men in the show exhibit toxic machismo, the ones who do not are either injured, killed, or banished from the surroundings for being of no use.
Throughout the course of the series, it is difficult for the viewer to develop any sympathy for Rustom, a character that is set out to be the messiah of the story. His backstory seems to have no impact, while his romantic subplot is forced and unnecessary.
The beautification of women in the series is merely a stand-in for any depth the writers could have given to the characters. Whilst "Boli" attempts at humanising sex workers, the presentation being associated with only the men in the show fails to provide any grounded perspective. Ayesha, the only woman who bravely raises her voice against the system, is also related to a man of power, and needs saving by another man. The women are only ever shown in service to the men.
The dialogues of the series are unrealistic in correlation to the colloquial language, and almost shallow. The nature of the script perhaps made it difficult for the actors to deliver raw and invigorating performances. Chanchal Chowdhury, as usual, stands out. However, his arsenal of skills are incompatible with the rudimentary elements of the show itself. Iresh Zaker's performance as Joynul Hujur was more fleshed out and natural in comparison to his counterparts.
The action scenes that were supposed to set the plot in motion were ineffectual, and almost comical. The slow-motion scenes were shot to evoke tension and thrill, however, to no avail. Whilst certain plot points had the potential to branch out into storylines with depth and meaning, the opportunity was truly missed.
"Boli" was merely an attempt at producing a good crime thriller, falling short in many places. Often stretched out with lengthy shots, unnecessary dialogues, and unreasonable plotlines, the series fails to get its point across throughout the span of seven inconsistent episodes.
The author is a freelance journalist.