Published: 15th November 2019
Fiction should be also driven by some amount of reality: Bilal Siddiqi on Bard of Blood
Bilal Siddiqi, the young star writer of the Netflix web series Bard of Blood, tells us what inspired him to write such a good thriller and what he's got planned next — besides Netflix and what not
I'm sure those proficient in Netflix and chill may have heard and maybe even watched the web series Bard of Blood. But if you haven't heard, it is a thriller of a RAW agent who is on a mission to save four Indian spies caught in Balochistan. Spy thrillers have always been interesting because they have the power to keep you hooked and on the edge while the quintessential heroes risks their lives to save the nation. This particular spy story was written by Bilal Siddiqi when he was only 19 years old, when he hardly spared a thought on this becoming a famous web series. "When I was studying journalism in Mumbai, my mentor and famous author, Hussain S Zaidi asked me if I could write something in the thriller genre. After a few days, I sent him five chapters of what I had written. I did not hear back from him for two months. But later, he put me in touch with Penguin Publishers who were keen on me completing the book. I took a year or so and here it is today in the form of a book and a web series," says the 25 years old.
Though the story of Bard of Blood seems to sound similar to any other spy story based in the enemy country, Bilal did quite a lot of research to write it. He says, "I believe that fiction stories should be driven by some amount of reality. One should research on the terrain that they are writing about, the world that they are trying to create, etc. For this, Zaidi put me in touch with people who had done their groundwork in Balochistan — the current situation and how different groups are fighting to seek freedom from Pakistan. Though I did not speak to these groups directly, I wrote the whole plot based on what people told me. While writing the book, I also watched a lot of documentaries and read as many books as I could so that I get an understanding."
Now, we were curious about women in the spy world as the Bard of Blood has one such strong character. We ask Bilal what the reality is in terms of women spies today, to which he replies, "I believe there are women spy agents in reality also because I don't think something as important as espionage would discriminate people on the basis of gender. Of course in pop culture, where we write shows, novels and movies, the portrayal of women characters is more for the screen as it makes for good storytelling. The reality could be much worst."
Bilal is unsure if he's going to do a sequel or a season 2 of the series; that call will depend on the producers of the show. "I would definitely like to be part of the second series, if it happens. Because working on the first season with actors like Shah Rukh Khan, who helped the team prepare the pitch and present it to the Netflix, was an exhilarating experience," says Bilal who wants to explore writing other genres too. He adds, "The childish fantasy of writing thriller stories is gone now. I want to concentrate on writing more serious stuff when it comes to books."