Bard of Blood Review - A bland espionage drama

Bard of Blood Review - A bland espionage drama

Bard of Blood, the web-series that marks the debut of SRK’s production house Red Chillies Entertainment in the digital space, has a seed-idea that’s increasingly becoming a cliche in streaming platforms. A tainted professional with a murky past, associated with the Indian Government at some level, is deputed on a mission that would reportedly restore the pride of the country from the clutches of terror. And the officer battles several odds in his personal and professional life through this journey. Sounds similar? The latest Netflix show, riding on the nationalism wave, takes the route of popular series like Sacred Games, The Family Man, but lacks the urgency or meat to keep a viewer consistently hooked. Emraan Hashmi is the face of the show, playing Kabir Anand, who is on a mission to rescue four Indian spies who have been caught by the Taliban in Balochistan. He is joined by his colleagues Isha and Veer Singh in this secret mission planned by their superior officer Sadiq Sheikh, who stands mysteriously murdered. Balochistan isn’t any new territory for Kabir, he has a past with the country that he holds close to his heart. The Taliban, the BAF that’s fighting for the independence of Balochistan, an ISA officer gone rogue - there are many battles that Kabir and his team need to confront as they try to secure their agents. The show is good at one aspect- making things look more serious and tense than what it appears to be. There are so many episodes and scenes that contribute nothing to its appeal. The drama lacks bite to provide a basis to the action sequences and frankly, there’s enough deja vu with the writing and characterisation. For someone who’s acclimated with espionage dramas, Bard of Blood can prove to be a snooze-fest. The digital medium is driven by strong characters, if not a compelling story. This show has neither. Veer Singh, deputed in Balochistan, wants to return to his home, Punjab, after seven years. Isha wants to prove that she has it in her to be a capable officer and that her gender hasn’t got anything to do with it. Kabir Anand is lost between the past and present, has a best friend who sacrifices his life for the country and an ex-lover, who lives in Balochistan. Their backstories are too basic and the treatment, too passive. The only part of the series where you sense some tenderness is the romance between Kabir Anand and Jannat. Their exchange of ideas, be it in the political, literary or the emotional space, feel immensely heartfelt. They quote Shakespeare, they talk Casablanca and the conversations are quite organic, despite contributing little to the story. Also, the unconventional brother-sister equation, where a 17-year-old teenager and political leader dictates terms to a much older and wiser sister, creates a few moments of intrigue. The other parts of the series, despite being gripping on a surface level, are so hollow that you just want to get past them in a hurry. But for a credible Kirti Kulhari and an impressive Vineet Kumar Singh, there are no powerhouse performances to distract you from the poor-writing. Emraan Hashmi huffs and puffs through the role wearing a morose look and still, this performance is no doorway to the soul of the character. Sobhita Dhulipala has a good chunk of sequences, and her overdone makeup apart, it’s hard to point out exactly what she contributes to the show. Rajit Kapoor, Shishir Sharma, Jaideep Ahlawat don’t get much to prove their worth either. It’s time Netflix takes it easy with its choices of Indian originals. Most of the Indian shows are trying so hard to tell their stories revolving around desh-bhakti, national security, indulging with its production values, aesthetics and still turning out to be so bland with the content. Ribhu Dasgupta, the director misses the bus with Bard of Blood. It lacks any of the basic elements expected out of a kickass digital show - good characters, performances, and a layered story. Expectedly, the second season may be an opportunity to start on a new page for the show creators. Rating: 2/5


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