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Aspirants’ Second Season Tells Us Why It’s Time To Grow Up




Aspirants(Prime  Video,5 Episodes)

Starring Naveen Kasturia, Shivankit Parihar, Abhilash Thapliyal, Namita Dubey, Sunny Hinduja

Directed by Apoorv Singh Karki

Rating: ****

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.

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