Sushmita Sen in Aarya 2
Sushmita Sen in Aarya 2

Aarya 2 Review: Sushmita Sen roars back in this competent sequel

The second season of Aarya tracks the journey of Sushmita Sen's Aarya Sareen from a mom to a don
Rating:(4 / 5)

In Aarya (2018), after a really long gap, we saw Sushmita Sen return in front of the camera, and as Aarya Sareen, who is caught in the world of drugs, bloodshed, greed, and treachery, she made an unlikely yet roaring comeback. In Season 2, Sushmita proves once again that she is a consummate performer.

Aarya, who fleed the country fearing her family's safety in Season 1, is forced to come back to India to testify against her father Zorawar (Jayant Kripalani), brother Sangram (Ankur Bhatia), and Udhayveer Shekhawat in the drug cartel case. The writing is spot on right from the beginning, and the viewer is given a clear picture of each character, their current mindset, and their equation with Aarya. As a Russian character in the series says, "My family is both my strength and my weakness." In a sense, this captures the essence of the whole series. The underlying theme is how the various characters in it are ready to go to any extent to protect and avenge their family.

Director: Ram Madhvani

Cast: Sushmita Sen, Ankur Bhatia, Jayant Kripalani, Sikander Kher

Streaming on: Disney + Hotstar

The second season tracks the journey of Aarya Sareen from a mom to a don. She faces umpteen hurdles from the cops, the Shekhawats, the Russians, as well as the ones close to her. Eventually, she reaches a point where she has the authority to command, 'Iss ko hata do mere rasthe se.' The fact that Aarya Sareen is the only prominent role that Sushmita Sen has done in the past decade elevates her performance. The actor doesn't miss a single beat in season 2 and we, the audience, are more invested because this is our only connection with her.

No matter how much Aarya is pushed against the wall, we know that she will find a way out and ensure her family's safety. The lioness' share of credits to the success of this series should go to Sushmita as it's her reassuring screen presence that lends so much credibility to the character. Aarya is not the I-know-it-all authoritative figure. She is extremely vulnerable and clueless at times. It is the constant setbacks that harden her up and pushes her to bring her panje out again. There is a particular goosebump-inducing scene in jail when Aarya roars out like a true lioness. But the most endearing thing about Aarya is still the care and respect she has for others. Unlike her foul-mouthed brother Sangram, Aarya is polite to even a don who threatens her. Even when the world comes down crashing, she is there to feed dahi to her son and check with the maid about sponge bathing the newborn. In both intense and poignant scenes, Sushmita Sen is a striking picture of dignity and poise.

While the focus is mostly on Aarya, the makers have also succeeded in properly fleshing out the already familiar characters along with introducing some new ones. Aarya's kids are yet to come out of the trauma of their father's murder; especially the younger two. Amidst all the chaos, the series devotes a fair share of screentime to Aru's (Virti Vaghani) mental health issues and the aftereffects of the scars inflicted on young Adi. Veer (Viren Vazirani), the elder son, becomes Aarya's sole support system. Daulat (Sikander Kher) is still the personification of loyalty, and despite being saddled with a relatively smaller role, he still manages to make a lasting impact. Another such character is Kediya, who is Daulat minus the muscles. He handles the Zorawar family's finances and has a very important role in the series. In this unethical and ruthless word, ACP Khan (Vikas Kumar) is caught in a no man's land. An honest and morally upright cop, Khan is forced to do unethical things out of his desperation to prove the case. He hits the realisation point only when his personal relationship gets strained. Contrary to the usual girlfriend-motivating-the-broken-hero, here we have a brief but beautiful portrayal of a queer relationship.

Aarya, the series, does not boast of out-of-the-box ideas or flashy production values, or innovative screenwriting techniques. Its strength lies in the in-depth exploration of various characters, their relationships with each other, and the dynamics between them. With 8 episodes, each around 35-40 minutes, the second season runs close to 6 hours but it is still engaging. One might argue that it's a bit slow-paced but it felt in sync with the overall theme of the season, which doesn't opt for any edge-of-the-seat moments.

On the downside, the 'twist' and the final revelation don't have much of an impact. But again, it is not the major twists or the revelations that keep the series going. It's the eventfulness in the journey and the cyclical nature of the plot that keeps one invested. As expected, the series ends with a clear indication of a third season. Unlike last time, Aarya Sareen is now powerful and fiercer with an army of her own. If the last scene is anything to go by, the third edition will see her flexing her muscles and of course, her panje! And we just can't wait! 

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