Aspirants(Prime Video,5 Episodes)
Starring Naveen Kasturia, Shivankit Parihar, Abhilash Thapliyal, Namita Dubey, Sunny Hinduja
Directed by Apoorv Singh Karki
TVF’s Aspirants escapes the Curse Of Season 2 by a wide margin. The second season of this ruminative show on growing up and growing apart from one’s roots in an educational system that creates an unbreakable hierarchy,is actually far superior to the first season.
It is also blessedly short, just five episodes to tell a portable epic story. So thank you, team Aspirants for keeping it short. There are no meandering subplots. Just the four friends from the original in the hub of the coaching chaos in Rajinder Nagar, trying to keep their heads and hearts together in a world of crippling hecticity and humbling hierarchy.
The series moves seamlessly in two spaces, the present and the past, showing the aspirants as, well, aspirants and achievers.
Naveen Kasturia as Abhilash Sharma is one who makes it into the IAS. He is now the District Magistrate and his friends Guri (Shivankit Parihar) and SK (Abhilash Thapliyal) wonder if it okay to ask Abhilash for favours. The focus of narration is not so much what the ‘tripod’ of friends ka dil chahta hai, but what Abhilash does with unlimited power.
Is he dedicated to bettering or battering India? Kasturia as Abhilash brings to us the many faces of India’s bureaucracy. He is sincere but vain. Morally straight but emotionally twisted. He likes the thought of being a dedicated soldier of the nation but repeatedly fails himself(and his job) when push comes to shove.
The moral dilemmas of this season of Aspirants are impossible to pin down. The series takes them on with a determined certainty to decode the uncertainties inherent in the unlimited empowerment of the bureaucracy and succeeds in this endeavour to a very large extent.
In the selfimposed small space that the series imposes on itself, it deeply explores the dynamics and ramifications of power-play in small places.
Besides Kasturia, the other stand-out performance is by Sunny Ahuja who as Abhilash’s subordinate in the bureaucracy eventually becomes the main point of conflict. To a large extent , Aspirants is about how power is to be used in a claustrophobic bureaucracy. The series,too, shows us how the space on the digital platform is for productive empowerment. Not endless sagas on gangsters and their gutter-level conflicts.