Bard of Blood review: Superb cast. Series? Not so

One of Netflix India’s big tentpole offerings this year with a movie star headlining the cast, all seven episodes of this Netflix original are now streaming on the platform. Produced by Shah Rukh Khan’s company Red Chillies Entertainment, and directed by Ribhu Dasgupta, Bard of Blood is an adaptation of Bilal Siddiqi’s 2015 novel of the same name. Siddiqi serves as a co-creator and writer on the show.

Kabir Anand, code named Adonis, (Emraan Hashmi) is a disgraced former Indian agent who teaches Shakespeare to bored school students. A mission he was a part of five years ago went south, killing his best friend Vikramjeet (Sohum Shah), and since then he is plagued by guilt and remorse. He gets his chance for redemption when his former boss Sadiq Sheikh (Rajit Kapoor) calls him back to rescue four Indian agents kidnapped by the Taliban in Balochistan.

Bard of Blood review: Superb cast. Series? Not so Sheikh chooses Isha Khanna (Sobhita Dhulipala), an analyst vying for a field position, to be a part of his team. It’s a character that’s a little too similar to Radhika Apte’s from Sacred Games but unfortunately not half as effective. The two then rope in Veer Singh (Vineet Kumar) who has been forgotten for the past seven years by the Indian intelligence. Jaideep Ahlawat plays Tanveer Shehzad, a Pakistani spy, who finds himself entangled with Kabir again, after being a part of the incident that ruined him five years ago. The cast also includes Kirti Kulhari as Jannat, Hashmi’s former girlfriend, and Shishir Sharma as Arun Joshi, the head of the Indian Intelligence.

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While Bard of Blood has a talented team of actors, the weak writing by Mayank Tewari, and a director who seems to be figuring out the show as it was filmed, are its undoing. ‘Bard of Blood’ suffers from major flaws — sloppy writing, a script totally devoid of humour, listlessly directed sequences and irresponsibility when it comes to politics — major enough to drown performances by Hashmi, Dhulipala and Singh in deep waters. As mentioned earlier, the series looks more like a movie, and with Netflix collaborating more and more with Bollywood top-guns.

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