- BOTTOM LINE
A fact-heavy, soulless crime thriller
|Platform: Netflix||Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama|
What Is the Story About?
Four Indian agents are at the mercy of the Taliban as they are caught spying in Balochistan. As part of a secret mission, Indian Intelligence officer Sadiq Sheikh seeks the return of a tainted officer Kabir Anand into his team to ensure their safe return to the country. With his superiors offering no cooperation in the mission, Sadiq is left with little choice and is later, even murdered under suspicious circumstances. However, Kabir, Isha and Veer Singh, leave no stone unturned to complete the last task given to them as they fly to Balochistan, fight it out with Pakistani intelligence authorities, a political party BAF to rescue their agents. Will they succeed?
A generally sparkling performer, Emraan Hashmi is perennially battling his inner demons through the episodes but the pain never reaches his eyes. He’s trying too hard to be his part and the effortlessness one usually associates with Emraan is missing in the series. But, Kirti Kulhari is the surprise package of the show, managing to present the conflict in her heart, torn between love and politics through her internalisation of the role. Her performance is worth rooting for. Sobhita Dhulipala, after Made in Heaven, doesn’t have much significance to her role, despite appearing in every alternate sequence in the series. She needs to hire a better stylist, her makeup remains the same through the series, whether she’s sweating it out on the field, conversing with someone or even if she’s just woken up from the bed
Bard of Blood has a very simplistic story but it wants its spectators to feel, it’s rocket science with all the urgency in the narrative. Its understanding of politics, espionage is so naive and basic. It never looks at the larger picture and doesn’t have enough meat in the detailing to keep you engaged. The character arcs given to its cast are more or less superficial and cinematic; you don’t feel for their pain at all. Mind you, the series is so atmospheric and shot so well, with uncompromising visual aesthetics but the content is so shallow that you’re made to think otherwise.
The heart of an espionage thriller lies in the action sequences. Bard of Blood feels like a glorified video game with the passionless action choreography. Nearly every character in the series begins to talk something philosophical during the action segments, in a bid to justify their indecisiveness. There’s no edginess or danger that you sense among any of the protagonists. You are introduced to a host of characters, subplots that don’t translate into anything concrete.
Veer Singh wants to visit his ailing father in Punjab after seven years. Isha wants an opportunity to justify her credentials as an intelligence officer. Kabir Anand tries to seek answers to his past and the present. The former also has a romantic interest in the form of Jannat, daughter of a popular political leader fighting for an independent Balochistan, a best friend who dies saving him in a tragic blast. There’s a 17-year-old political leader who takes the position of his dad after the latter’s untimely death. They all have stories to share but the director Ribhu Dasgupta doesn’t seem interested in the emotional angle much. The romance between Jannat and Kabir, the brother-sister dynamics between Nusrat and Jannat, bring some spunk to an otherwise dull series.
Even the fight for an independent Balochistan, the dark portrayal of the Taliban fails to evoke any interest. There’s no insight, personalisation of a subplot. The tales about Balochistan and the Taliban feels too distant for an Indian viewer to evoke any connection. Everything is very uni-layered, narrated in a matter of factly fashion in this one-liner of a story, stretched beyond necessity. The series is loaded with facts, so much is said but very little is shown. For a change, Netflix manages to bring some conclusion to the story by the end of the series and also lays a foundation for season two. Would it fare better? Let us hope so.
Vineet Kumar Singh is another credible performer, who makes his presence felt as agent Veer Singh, whose efforts have gone unrecognised by the Indian Government. He presents the unpredictability in the role well. He’s a natural on the screen and seems to have done his homework, both in his portrayal and appearance. Shishir Sharma, Rajit Kapoor, Jaideep Ahlawat shine in their brief appearances too.
Music and Other Departments?
Music is the only aspect of the series that manages to give it a gripping quality when the content fails to deliver. The cinematography by Chirantan Das is top-notch and lends a lavishness to the viewing experience. The graphics are rather appalling, given the huge budget invested in the execution. The writing focuses less on human drama and has a robotic quality to it.
Very aesthetically shot
Performances of Vineet Kumar Singh and Kirti Kulhari
The sense of urgency in the plot (despite the pale content)
Emraan Hashmi’s soulless performance
Dull action sequences
Lack of human drama
Did I Enjoy It?
Will You Recommend It?
Review by Srivathsan Nadadhur