Emraan’s ‘Bard of Blood’ is Pacy and Sometimes Predictable
The show releases on 27 September.
Bard of Blood
Bard of Blood Review: Emraan’s Show Is Pacy, Sometimes Predictable
(This is a spoiler free review)
There’s a scene in Bard of Blood, when an Indian agent held captive by the Taliban deliberately riles him up. He makes various accusations at him, and this is after he is brutally beaten up by the terrorists. It’s a nail-biting moment, and keeps you at the edge of your seat. That’s what what the show is like generally - some masterfully created suspenseful moments, but largely predictable.
Watch the trailer here:
The show has been adapted from writer Bilal Siddiqi’s espionage novel The Bard of Blood, that he actually wrote when he was in college. In a nutshell, here’s what the show is about - ex-RAW agent Kabir Anand (Emraan Hashmi), codename: Adonis (Why? Nobody knows) who has hung up his boots, is forced to go undercover on a three person mission to rescue Indian spies from Balochistan. He is joined by Isha Khanna (Sobhita Dhulipala), a senior analyst who craves to be on the field but isn’t allowed to because of her gender (stereotype or reality? I’ll let you decide that); Veer (Vineet Kumar), an agent undercover in Afghanistan for a good seven years, who yearns to return home.
The premise of the show is based on sensitive ground, we all know that people have their eyes on Balochistan for claiming independence, and the pressure they have had to face from neighbouring countries because of the same. But director Ribhu Dasgupta and screenplay writer Mayank Tewari create several moments of urgency and keep it pacy. So you’re invested in the politics, but you’re praying for Kabir and his colleagues to escape the next attack. For example, there’s a scene where a man comes to serve tea to Kabir and Isha, and the next minute a cop breaks open the door to their house. It’s nerve-racking, but in a good way.
I would credit that also to the editing done by Antara Lahiri, Nitin Baid and Sangeeth Verghese. Also the evocative camera work by Chirantan Das - those visuals of the desert with literally no one in sight are breathtaking.
For me, two of the most interesting characters in the show were that of Jannat Marri played by Kirti Kulhari and Tanvir Shehzad played by Jaideep Ahlawat. Kirti brings a sense of respite through her character, who is empathetic and has a sense of ownership towards Balochistan. Jaideep’s character works for the ISA there, and is calm and brutal in equal measure. Both characters don’t have too much screen time but leave a lasting impression.
Bard of Blood also brings in certain cultural aspects like ‘Bachha Bazi’, where young boys are made to dance for older Muslim men, and often leads to sex slavery. This brings us to the characterisation of the terrorists. Kohl-eyed and in a perpetual state of anger, these guys lack depth and personality. Barring their leader, the Mullah who has an uneasy sense of calm, with an almost pirate like face. This is probably because the narrative also somehow presents Emraan’s character as a saviour for Balochistan.
There were points when I felt like there was too much happening, and others where things were very simplified. So, Kabir gets to know from his dead mentor through Sudoku that he needs to go on a mission. Maybe it’s just me, these guys are agents after all, have to be swift! There’s another moment where Veer asks Kabir before launching an important attack- ‘Bahut risky hai? (Is it too risky?), and I went duhhhhh, it’s the Taliban you’re dealing with!
But there’s also a lot to enjoy. Ribhu’s direction brings some sort of freshness to the story. These are also people with normal lives and I’m a sucker for that. They’re not superheroes, they’re beaten up repeatedly, lose hope but then pick themselves up and through it all you root for them, ignoring the silliness sometimes.
Then there’s also Emraan Hashmi’s consistently solid performance. He has that unique combination of feeling like one of us, and yet being heroic. He mouths Shakespeare, quotes Casablanca and says dialogues that are just unintentionally funny sometimes but is absolutely convincing.
There’s also the hair-raising climax, that had my jaw drop, literally! Every episode of the show ends with a cliffhanger obviously but look out for this one. Bard of Blood is somewhere between a Mission Impossible kind of space and the actual reality of these agents - which is a lot of sacrifice, pain and if you get to live that vicariously then why not.
Bard of Blood streams on Netflix, 27 September onwards.
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