Shah Rukh Khan has adventurously plunged into the streaming platform where, it is believed, all the excitement flows nowadays. The trailer of SRK’s maiden OTT venture Bard Of Blood is out. And it looks like a not-so-distant cousin of anti-terror feature films like Kabir Khan’s Phantom and Robby Garewal’s RAW, with Emraan Hashmi playing an Indian intelligence agent on a mission to rescue Indian spies from across the border. It looks like a well-planned pulpy formulistic excursion with the Pakistani characters sporting beards, kaajal, and broad accents all derived from stereotypical notions of jingoistic Paki-bashing.
The question to ask in these volatile times of cultural and religious friction is, should cinema (and by extension all art) be indulging in this naked hate-mongering? Shah Rukh’s Pakistani fans certainly don’t think so. They have condemned the Superstar for his association with Bard Of Blood. Innumerable tweets from Pakistan protesting against Shah Rukh’s association with a project that portrays Pakistan as a hub of terror activities are up on social media, some of them accusing him of pandering to the ruling government’s ideology to win brownie points.
However the popular view of terror and terrorism being harboured in the neighbouring country cannot be discounted. And Bard Of Blood is, at the most elementary level, projecting a political reality that is now an accepted truism in most political circles. “If by showing a mirror to the perpetrators of terrorism Shah Rukh is offending and losing some fan following then it’s a sacrifice worth making. It’s better to take a stand than to be an endless fence-sitter,” says a filmmaker friend of King Khan.