She’s a woman in a man’s world, but she’s not there to tick the token female box, claims Indian actress Sobhita Dhulipala who plays an agent in the testosterone-fuelled ‘Bard of Blood’, a seven-episode series premiering on Netflix on September 27.
“She’s like the fulcrum between these two agents who are on the field with her… There’s no unnecessary romantic angle either,” said Dhulipala in an exclusive interview with Gulf News tabloid!.
“It was incredibly refreshing that my part wasn’t an obligatory female part. She’s someone who’s very serious about her job. The role that I play isn’t gender-specific. It just so happens that she’s female,” added Dhulipala.
‘Bard Of Blood’, co-produced by Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Productions, follows three Indian intelligence agents on an espionage operation that’s laced with kidnap, ransom threats and deception while they are stationed in Pakistan’s Westernmost province, Balochistan. Dhulipala has swapped gowns for guns in her latest web series.
Award-winning Bollywood actor Emraan Hashim plays a former agent who’s called back for duty after being expelled from intelligence services, to rescue analyst Isha (Dhulipala) and her mate Veer (Vineet Kumar) in a trying, violent hostage mission.
“‘Bard of Blood’ charts the humane journey of three unlikely personalities. We are very dissimilar to each other, but we get stuck in a situation where we have no choice but to stick around. It explores their dynamic and that was interesting to me ... This series will make you realise that agents are also people who sweat, bleed and face fear in a battle field.”
Dhulipala courted instant fame and adulation when her deliciously wicked and glamorous TV series ‘Made in Heaven’ — in which she played a chic wedding planner dripping in designer threads — launched earlier this year. Her turn as the no-nonsense agent in ‘Bard Of Blood’ is a stark departure from the sophisticated ‘MIH’ series that catapulted her into an overnight sensation. Her focus is on ferreting content-driven work.
“I have been making choices that are some sort of a creative gamble — some work and some don’t. My first film did not take off commercially, but somehow I felt all my gambles worked and they have been good for me. I have been motivated by the choices that I have made so far in my career,” said Dhulipala.
While ‘Bard of Blood’ is based on the novel by debutant author Bilal Siddiqi, she was forbidden from reading it.
“The ‘Bard of Blood’ screenplay is an evolved version of the book… Initially, I was very curious about the book because there’s so much more detailing and description there. But I realised that reading the book would leave a little room for vanity… But I have made peace with not reading the book.”
While she can be condoned for not reading Siddiqi’s best-seller, will her new series — a fictional spy thriller set about Indian intelligence agents in its long-enduring rival territory Balochistan — fuel the familiar, cliché-ridden narrative that India’s rival neighbours are inherently untrustworthy or evil. Will ‘Bard of Blood’ peddle such tried-and-tested stereotypes?
“It is not jingoistic. There is a huge wave of such films of late. And I imagine this question comes very naturally… ‘Bard of Blood’ is about three individuals on their job. It’s personal vs ethics, and angst vs survival, fear vs anger etc… It doesn’t limit itself to a series about our nation’s honour.”
Breathing life into unconventional stories makes her feel invigorated as an actor. As a child, she remembers trading the perfectly-proportioned, but painfully plastic Barbie dolls for Lara Croft Tomb Raider figurines.
“I found Lara Croft so much more cooler than Barbie dolls because I loved the idea of girls being tough… And as an actor, I am absolutely unafraid to tell a story if it sits rights. But as an individual, I need to be careful about making statements that are ill-informed. I am unafraid as an artist.”
She also got to learn from the best as she observed her much-experienced co-star Hashmi in action.
“He’s very unassuming and doesn’t walk with the burden of having done so much work. He’s also one of the funniest colleagues that I have work with,” said Dhulipala, who has also acted with Hashmi for Jithu Joseph’s thriller ‘Body’.
While she finds content-driven films fascinating, web series give a story the space required to play out.
“Some stories are better told in a longer format. If an actor is allowed and given that space, it’s truly enjoyable. If details of a story are crunched together, it appears clunky and jerky. We didn’t have the problem with ‘Bard of Blood’.”
Don’t miss it!
‘Bard of Blood’ premieres on Netflix on Friday, September 27.