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Aarya 2: Madhvani-Sushmita Deliver A Knockout Encore




Madhvani-Sushmita Deliver  A  Knockout Encore

Aarya 2(Disney+Hotstar, 8 episodes)

Directed  by  Ram Madhvani, Kapil Sharma, Vinod Rawat

Rating: *** ½

Normally  the thought of  a sequel to a webseries scares  the hell  out of me. These encores are more often than not, an excuse for carrying things too far.

Not  Aarya. Not  Ram Madhvani and  Sushmita Sen. The lethal duo have sculpted  the most  engaging crime  drama  on this side  of the  first season of  Mirzapur.Aarya 2 is everything that a sequel to a triumphant  first-season should be. It is gritty and  revealing,   powerful and  yet sensitive  where it needs to be.The shocks and surprises  never stop spilling  out right until the end .

It is  a defly-written drama yoking its violent heart with a solid storytelling that moves fluently from hand-held  camera  sequences to solidly-grounded dramatic conflicts  where the camera abnegates  its  presence. Madhavani who is master of dramatic crisis, uses Sushmita Sen’s powerhouse presence to fuel the  kind of  agile angry emotions that show  her character  as   awoman in charge  without masculinizing her character.

Sen’s  Aarya Sareen  is at once Diva and  Don.Macho  and Feminine.  She is fire and ice without  making a song and dance of  the  fusion process.It’s hard  to imagine what Ram Madhvani’s series would have been without  his leading lady.Sushmita  anchors the  violent heart  of  the plot with a  bedrock of macho muliebrity.

If Aarya’s family is her  weakness, her children are  also her strength. She  nurtures  the mother within her  with her  sweat and blood.  It’s  a  performance steeped in a history  of  fiercely  protective  motherhood  from Nargis in  Mother India to  Sridevi in Mom.

The second season opens with  Aarya and  the   children  being forced back from the relative safety of  Australia to the  crime  hub of Mumbai  by a well-meaning but  progressively waylaid  police officer Khan (Vikas Kumar) who is grappling with his homosexuality,and the most loathsome public  prosecutor I’ve ever seen(played by Dilnaz Irani) .

There is a  heartstopping moment  in the  second episode where Aarya’s  security under the  witness-protection plan is  whisked away  from  under her feet. Suddenly she  stands  all alone vulnerable, likely to be  killed at any moment. Sushmita Sen  imbues these  moments  of absolute  vulnerability  with an ambivalent  strength. She tells  us  it is okay to be unprotected and  scared.

Aarya Sareen’s  journey into the heart of darkness is well plotted. The tension  never slackens as the plot takes Aarya through a  journey  of family feuds  and patricide  that leave her as stunned as  the audience.

While  Sen  towers  over the  plot  the other actors are drawn with notable  sharpness. Ankur Bhatia’s Sangram(Aarya’s brother) and Sikandar Kher’s Daulat(Aarya’s faithful right-hand man) stand out in the crowd  of jostling  avengers.And Aarya’s best friend  Maya(Maya Sarao) has the single most  powerful  moment in  the series when  she flings  aside selfinterest to be   a loyal friend.

Not all  of the storytelling works  that well.  There  is an important cremation sequence  where the emotional velocity goes out  of control.And   the way Aarya finally  takes on the mafia is clearly  a hard  pill to swallow for  the audience.

What works without fail  is the director’s confidence in his heroine’s  ability to conquer adversity.  When  it comes  to her children Aarya Sareen  never falters .Even if her world is falling apart she  makes sure that her  family doesn’t  slip through the cracks.

I love the way Madhvani uses  gun shots  to punctuate  the  anxiety and fear rather than to highlight the  violence. He  has a penchant for  vintage  music.  Lata Mangeshkar’s Aa jaan-e-jaan and   Mohammed Rafi’s Chahe koi mujhe jungle kahe  come into  play as though they  were composed for this occasion only.

There is a  disquieting   inevitability about Aarya. A  sense of foreshadowed  crisis which makes it an incredibly irresistible experience. Season 3 is eagerly awaited. Suraj, Aarya’s latest enemy, is on his way.He  doesn’t know what he  is up against.

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