Web series review: Aarya

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Kathmandu. ‘Aarya’ is a crime thriller web series that was released on Disney+ Hotstar on June 19. This series marks the comeback of Bollywood actress Sushmita Sen in the titular role, with Chandrachur Singh gracing the screens after a long gap, in a supporting role as her husband. The series has been directed by Ram Madhvani (‘Neerja’ director), Sandeep Modi and Vinod Rawat.

The nine-episode series starts with Sushmita Sen (Aarya) engaged in her exercise with gymnastic rings, suspended upside down. The first episode goes on to reveal that her husband Chandrachur Singh (Tej) is the owner of ‘Aaryasattwa Pharmaceuticals’, but we get to know more on the behind the scenes operations when his partners seek to sell illegal drugs through the business. As the episodes move on, we come to know that Aarya’s family has been involved in the illicit dealings since generations.

The storyline takes a wide turn when Tej is shot dead, which forces Aarya to step into the forefront of the illegal drug business. Sushmita Sen outshines as ‘Aarya’ and her presence on the screen is extremely powerful, as her aura itself gives new dimensions to her character. In one particular scene, one of Tej’s partner asks her as to why she was not actively engaged in the line of work earlier, to which she replies, “Pehle dhanda mard sambhalte the ab bache nahin” (Previously men used to handle the business, but there are none left). Her power packed dialogues are delivered in a way that leaves an impact on the audience. She comes across as bold, strong and fearless, and her transitions in between the moments are flawless.

Sen has effortlessly portrayed the protectiveness of a mother and a wife who would cross any boundaries to protect her family. The series is shown from an open and modern mindset, while bringing out references from the Hindu holy text, ‘The Bhagwad Gita’, showing that much of life’s difficulties could have answers in them. It adds to the drama of the scenes and complements the simple narrative that has been put to the fore. In a particular scene, Tej’s daughter is devastated by her father’s death when her ‘mausaji’ (uncle), Bob steps in and tells her that it is written in the Gita that the soul never dies. Similarly, in one of the moments during a climax, when Aarya needs to make a difficult decision, references from the Gita are taken – what advise did Krishna give to the Pandavas when they had to fight their own relatives on the battlefield. And these simple yet impactful moments give Aarya the momentum that it needs to keep the audiences watching and waiting for the next episode.

The characters have not been shrunken to conventional roles or shades. Instances like Aarya’s sister being married off to a foreigner and the investigating cop’s character being gay, are concepts that are still rare to see in a series from this part of the world, without being overly dramatized. Aarya pulls it off without the unnecessary flair.

Each character almost gets an equal screen space – from Aarya’s children, to her family and the drug dealers, getting an opportunity to grow throughout each episode, whilst keeping the thrill intact. With season two being announced, ‘Aarya’ is a must watch, recommended for those who like crime-thrillers. It is also suitable to be binge-watched on this festive season.

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