Bollywood's Emraan Hashmi talks working with SRK for Netflix's Bard Of Blood
Will play Kabir Anand in Bard Of Blood
Political tensions in South Asia may have cooled a tad over recent weeks (or at least they are no longer the daily international leading stories), yet it could be argued the climate remains pretty volatile to be releasing spy thriller, Bard Of Blood, centering on the rescue of Indian special forces operatives taken hostage in Balochistan. Case in point: it merely took producer, Shah Rukh Khan, tweeting out a link for his new series' trailer to prompt the Pakistani army's chief spokesperson, Major General Asif Ghafoor, to hit back at the Bollywood icon for putting his Red Chillies Entertainment production house might behind the project. Such issues, however, remain non-starters for the show's lead star, Emraan Hashmi, who stated he is simply 'excited' for the programme to drop on Netflix on September 27. "Since the promo we got a lot of traction," he told us in a matter of fact manner over the phone from India.
"I want everyone to see it and I'm sure everyone will love it." Judging from the response other Indian Netflix originals such as Sacred Games (2018) and Delhi Crime (2019) have garnered, the Ek Thi Dayaan star is most likely correct.
What's the show about?
Based on the eponymous 2015 Bilal Siddiqi novel, Bard Of Blood focuses on former spy-turned-professor of Shakespeare, Kabir Anand (Hashmi). When a handful of Indian intelligence officers are compromised and captured in Balochistan before they can relay an important piece of information back to base, regional expert Anand is deemed the only one who can save them. Recalled into active service by the organisation that once shunned him, Hashmi said the plot is not a straight-forward question of a soldier doing their duty.
"You see him (Anand) at a point where he has to start afresh. He has been thrown out of the agency where he was working. He reluctantly goes on the mission, but there are a lot of unanswered questions he must face during his journey."
Hashmi also said the story runs close to the book.
"When you adapt for a film or original series, there are things that need to be tweaked. It has been done beautifully. The writers are used to writing films, and there are seven edge-of-your-seat episodes. Every episode will have you wanting to come back."
A Netflix and Red Chillies Entertainment event
To be the star of a Netflix original show is one thing, but to also have Shah Rukh Khan and his filmmaking team behind you is surely as good as it gets for an actor looking to break a more international audience for the first time. Spoof promotional material for Bard Of Blood's release date starring Khan "interrogating" Hashmi playing Anand almost immediately rocketed up to two million views on YouTube alone.
"That was a fun one," Hashmi said about filming the clip. "He's playing a jester and there are moments where I wanted to crack up. When you look up to an actor like Shah Rukh Khan - I have been watching his films since I was in school - it is a difficult job to believe he was actually there. He brings a great energy to the set. He's a great human being. I don't know too many actors who have the confidence he has to play the character he did in those scenes where I turn the table on him. He has a great sense of humour."
Although Hashmi did reveal SRK's influence was not felt during the actual filming (on set, Netflix's expertise was utilised to its fullest: "As far as quality goes, they pin down the details and make it happen"), Khan did offer valuable insights once the show was in the can.
"During post production we've had multiple meetings. That gave us a great objective view. He (Khan) was seeing it fresh. He had some great feedback on the episodes we showed him which bettered the show.
"It wouldn't have been possible without him. He got everyone together. I'm very fortunate to be working with them. He has been the backbone throughout the entire thing."
Movies vs. TV
Known for an expansive body of Hindi movie industry work since his debut in 2003 with Footpath, 40-year-old Hashmi's almost 17 years on the silver screen should have him prepared for anything the film business can conjure. From quirky biographical features such as The Dirty Picture (2011) to romantic dramas including 2015's Hamari Adhuri Kahani, there aren't many genres he has yet to tackle, leading some critics to favourably compare the actor to Hollywood's Colin Farrell as a result of the intensity he is able to lend many diverse roles.
Therefore, it was not Anand's character for which Hashmi said he had to make an adjustment, but rather a TV show's rigorous filming schedule.
"It is definitely a lot more work, that's for sure," he said about making a series rather than movie. "It is like shooting three films: seven episodes each 45-minutes long. It was a huge challenge. But in many ways it was very positive. For any performer it is a gift to play a bigger character arc to the usual three-hour movie. Netflix are the best at it. They were leading the way because it was our first time. It helped us stay on the path."
But if he had to narrow it down? What was the toughest aspect? "We couldn't actually go shoot in Balochistan, so we shot in Ladakh. It is at a very high altitude and has erratic weather. That was testing for everyone."
Other actors to appear in the series include Vineet Kumar Singh, Sobhita Dhulipala, Kirti Kulhari, Jaideep Ahlawat and Rajit Kapur. Bard of Blood will launch on Netflix on September 27 across 190 countries.
A promotional clip with SRK