Aarya is for the binge watcher alright. But the real binge watching happens only after the sixth episode. And that is when the real action starts after you sleepily plod through the first few episodes where you are still trying to make sense of the many threads woven in this crime drama series, streaming on Hot Star Specials now.
The whole show revolves around the pivotal role of home maker Aarya Sareen, played well by the gorgeous Sushmita Sen, who is returning to the screen after a long hiatus.
With three kids, beautiful houses, a supposedly loving extended family, massive wealth and a pretty charming, mild natured husband (Chandrachur Singh of Maachis fame, yes, he’s come back too), Ms Sen seems to be having her cake and eating it too.
Not to be said for us lesser mortals who seem to always find something to crib about. But as the camera gets closer, we see that her life is not as perfect as it is made out to be. The veneer starts cracking after an attack on her husband shakes up the entire family. In one day, her life changes. She finds herself thrown into the dirt and sleaze of her husband’s pharmaceutical company, actually a front for manufacturing illegal drugs.
That her own father is the kingpin of the drug business and yet she has always run away from it, holds no value now. She is thrust into the business willy nilly. How she felinely claws her way out, along with keeping her children, her cubs, safe, is what forms the premise of this thriller, written by Sandeep Srivastava and Anu Singh Choudhary and created by Ram Madhvani (along with Sandeep Modi) maker of the film ‘Neerja’ on the life of air hostess Neerja Bhanot.
A fair copy of the original, a Dutch drama series called Penoza by Pieter Bart Korthuis, Aarya takes its viewers into a web of deceit, lies, betrayal and also love, in its depiction of the inner lives of a drug dealer’s family.
Sushmita Sen (Aarya’s) father, the patriarch of this family is the original drug lord, played by Jayant Kripalani who seems lost without his Man Friday Daulat (Sikander Kher), who is not allowed to talk much in any of the episodes. Why? We dont know! But without him, the old don man is practically useless.
Trouble brews when the old man’s son Sangram steals a cache of heroin, worth crores, from a rival gang. After that, everything that can possibly go wrong, goes wrong. His son in law (Chandrachud Singh) wants out of the life of crime to set up his safe haven with wife Aarya (Sushmita Sen) and their three kids. The old man has to assume charge again, to protect the family’s interests, though we see him as incapacitated, in the beginning of the series.
Beautiful locations in Rajasthan, where this series was shot, polo players clubs, marriages in mahals, uber luxury cars, privileged lives hidden by the darkness that they are all enveloped within, murders, intrigue and a lot of racy, on the edge moments will keep you hooked to this show.
But along with it, it has some important life lessons to impart; such as never to trust anybody, including your own family and to be extremely thorough while committing a crime, leaving no loose ends. Our protagonist Aarya learns this the hard way. Naivety gives way to a self assuredness that the criminality in her genes brings to the fore.
While it is nice to see the camera zooming in on her immaculate face all the time, it also shows us her limited repertoire of emotions so she is allowed to stick to only a few standard facial expressions. Her wardrobe is classy, she has a good hair day every day and sometimes you do wish that she would look a little real. Some messy hair, no makeup, not clothes worn by Victoria Beckham and more focus on raw emotions would have brought a bit of reality to this series. The glamour is distracting at times but overall, it’s a good watch.
Especially in the scenes leading up to the climax, where there is ample reference to the Bhagavad Gita and even throughout the show. Aarya faces a dilemma similar to Arjuna, at the start of the Dharma Yudha between Pandavas and Kauravas, when he despairs the violence and death the war will cause in the battle against his own kin. It is then that Krishna counsels Arjuna to “fulfill his Kshatriya (warrior) duty to uphold the Dharma” through “selfless action”.
Our protagonist too, then chooses to do the right thing- – her duty or she chooses the lesser evil. But whatever the choice, the stakes are high and she cannot afford to give up, at this juncture.
On the other hand is her cat and mouse game with the policeman, hot on her trail, ACP Khan, whose homosexuality is the subject of innuendo and fisticuffs in this series. Towards the end, however, this adversary who matches her will for will, forms a grudging respect for her and makes peace. He bails her out once he understands why she is, who she is, at that present moment.
The best part? You want to know what’s going to happen next, the moment the pace gets faster and the doors close in around Aarya. That’s a winner, alright!
Season 1 was good. Season 2 has just been announced. Watch this space. Watch Aarya.