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Sushmita Sen’s Aarya series is a little slow-paced as a crime thriller, but will leave you awestruck with Sen’s single mother Aarya.
After almost a decade of not working in any Hindi language films or shows, Sushmita Sen is back.
Her OTT debut Aarya came out last week on Disney+Hotstar.
Aarya beautifully embodies the much clichéd statement: ‘A mother can do anything for her kids’.
So if you are planning to miss it, then you are missing out something worth watching. Most importantly you are missing out on Sushmita Sen. We all love Sushmita Sen; I admire her grace, her elegance, her spirit, and overall I admire the woman that Sushmita Sen is in real life.
Sadly Bollywood never gave me a chance to admire the ‘actor’ in Sushmita Sen, but Aarya makes me fall in love with the actor.
Created by Ram Madhvani and Sandeep Modi, Aarya is an adaptation of Dutch thriller Penoza. It is set on a ‘posh’ family background where Aarya has 3 kids and a loving husband Tej (played by Chandrachur Singh).
Aarya’s dad Zorawar (Jayant Kripalani) owns a big pharmaceutical company. When he retires, he hands over the business to his son Sangram (Ankur Bhatia) son-in-law Tej and his drug addict friend Jawahar (Namit Das).
Aarya is a stay at home mom, has a very simple life surrounding her kids and her family, lives in a huge mansion, does gymnastics. Normal happy family. Until one day her life turns upside down when her husband Tej is shot. With this Aarya comes to the dark revelation of her family business.
For a thriller, the narrative of Aarya is really slow. The series is elongated to 9 episodes with each episode being 50 to 55 minutes. Many scenes are stretched beyond repair, and the emotional moments seem over wrought. I was expecting Aarya to be a fast-paced series, but after the central crisis is revealed, the show seems very slow-paced.
Apart from Sushmita Sen, the supporting cast gives a wonderful performance that manages to carry forward the rather slow crime series, though they could have been given a little more depth.
One thing that I liked the most about the series is unconventional women characters and scenes that break stereotypes. The most brilliant of which was the casting of a female actor above 40 in the main role, that too in a crime series. We see male actors above 50 essaying the ‘hero’ roles in commercial movies in Bollywood, and older female actors either doing art movies or playing the roles of mothers, so this is certainly a break from that.
Apart from that Aarya is portrayed as a lady torn apart between doing what is right and protecting her family. In a bid to save those closest to her, she gets her hands dirty by helping Shekhawat in his consignments. So the series shuts down all stereotypes that our society have about women, especially widowed women.
Before her husband’s death, Aarya is the ‘ideal rich woman’ who turns completely badass afterwards, the only woman in a world dominated by toxic male characters.
One of my favourite scenes from the series is when Jawahar asks Aarya why she did not join the business earlier, and Aarya replies ‘Pehle dhandha mard sambhalte the, ab Bache nahi!’ (Earlier men would do business, now no one of them survives).
Maya is another remarkable character in the series played elegantly by Maya Sarao (who also played the lawyer in Thappad). Maya doesn’t bow down to her husband Jawahar. Towards the end, she proves that she is enough for herself and her son.
Another favourite character of mine from the series is Rajeshwari played by Sohaila Kapur. She is the heartbroken, gin-drinking, manipulative mother of Aarya. Unlike older women characters who are usually either saints or shrews, Rajeshwari is fleshed out as a real person who can both feel and inflict pain.
The Narcotics Control Bureau’s Mr Khan also breaks stereotypes by being a gay character. Another mentionable scene is the one where Sampat, Shekhawat’s goon kidnaps Aarya’s daughter Aru and goes out to buy sanitary pads for her. In the process, he gets the shopkeeper beaten up for ‘vulgarity’, because the shopkeeper thinks that Sampat is there to buy a ‘condom’!
Despite being a little slow, Aarya is a very good watch for the weekend. Sushmita Sen delivers a breathtaking performance. Seriously, Sen gives a promising comeback, and Aarya promises to be a refreshing take on the male-dominated genre of crime. It is not your stereotypical car chase, gun fighting and full of slurs type crime drama. Aarya has a soul to it, and explores a human emotion through Sushmita Sen’s character, and leaves a long-lasting impact on viewers.
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