The drama seldom leaves the family, one large ensemble of characters linked by blood or business. Much like the Italian mafia, a genre the show often resembles. Each episode reveals more about the relationships between the people, and the fallouts of these that drive the story ahead. For once, it is the heroin that is a cover. It is a facade for what the show really is. It hides within it a labyrinth of human discord simmering quietly, revealed steadily as the show progresses.
As the creator and director of Aarya, Ram Madhvani states in an interview, the show is as much about family as about crime. The plot is a potboiler set in Rajasthan and revolves around a lost heroin consignment belonging to the Russian mafia. Aarya’s (Sushmita Sen) husband, Tej (Chandrachur Singh), and his two business partners (Ankur Bhatia and Namit Das) are entangled in this mystery, and it comes upon Aarya – mother of three, elder sister and daughter, and housewife in charge – to take over the reigns of the business.
But the drama seldom leaves the family, one large ensemble of characters linked by blood or business. Much like the Italian mafia, a genre the show often resembles. Each episode reveals more about the relationships between the people, and the fallouts of these that drive the story ahead. For once, it is the heroin that is a cover. It is a facade for what the show really is. It hides within it a labyrinth of human discord simmering quietly, revealed steadily as the show progresses.
Indeed, things like the revelations about the heroin, or the mystery behind the assassin are actually kept secondary in the narrative. They are not the climax the show is building up to. You know about them much before the final act is mounted. They are used as stepping stones to unspool the horrific nature of human frailties. Ego, jealousy, insecurity; the old devils are the ones that provide real drama. The final antagonists are, fittingly, not smugglers or mafioso or other set of unknown strangers. It is the near and dear ones, because they’re the ones that can truly hurt you when and where it matters the most.
As the titular character, Sushmita Sen revels in a 9-hour showtime. The luxury of the streaming show format is well utilised by the creators in designing an author-backed performance for her. The range it covers is stunning – from a housewife, to a businesswoman, to a drug peddler, who first resents and then uses the business to her benefit, back to a housewife. And a mother through all of this. It’s an opportunity for any artist and Sushmita makes the most of it. Privileged, well spoken, and authoritative, she brings her personality to Aarya and makes the character her own. This is surely her best performance as an actor.
The writers have a field day with the story. There are no heroes here, and not many villains either. Often, morality is a point of view, unconstrained by the traditional ideas of right and wrong. No wonder that you’re cheering for a Rs 300 cr shipment of heroin to be smuggled out of the country, rooting for it to happily evade the narcs. But this is a show that repeatedly references the Bhagwad Gita, and Karma has its comeuppance for almost everyone in the end. The script is excellent. It has a neat arc to how the plot starts, stretches, and finishes, giving a completeness to the narrative. It could be tighter, there are subplots that add no value to the narrative, but they don’t matter anyway. This is a layered script that has been thought out till the end, and the writing team deserves applause for it. The last scene notwithstanding.
Ram Madhwani succeeds in pulling off a difficult act – create a binge worthy show that’s easy to follow, with solid mass appeal. All the while playing out a more complex plot that’s not so apparent, yet one that you realize has hooked you in far more by the time the final credits roll.
Aarya is streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.
Hindi, Drama, Color