Aarya Season 3 review: Sushmita Sen, Ram Madhvani don't skip a beat, add more style, pulse and heart to this drama
Sushmita Sen and Ram Madhvani go beyond the sacrificial mother trope to make the character of Aarya both a dreaded gangster and a tragic hero in Season 3.
Let's get the only gripe I had with Aarya Season 3 out of the way: It's too short. Disney+ Hotstar is going The Night Manager way with the Ram Madhvani, Sushmita Sen show and would release the third instalment in two parts. If part 1, now streaming, is anything to go by, part 2 would be a long yet worthy wait.
When we left Aarya last season, she'd become a don. The first man she gunned down to death was her biological father. She trembled at how instinctively she could pull the trigger, not because of who he was, but merely because he was a living, breathing individual.
Season 3 starts with Aarya taking the reigns so to say. The first episode kicks off with a recap set to her dead husband Tej's memorial song, Bade Acche Lagte Hain, before it gets drowned out by a more intense, gangster-like score. Sushmita is dressed in a black bathrobe with the hood on, smoking a cigar, and looking over her kingdom from her fortress.
Sushmita transforms from the scared mother that she was in the first two seasons to the roaring lioness she is in Season 3. Yet she makes the transformation convincing and organic by infusing her performance with an authority that stems from freshly acquired power. At the same time, she makes sure shades of the lost Aarya surface as and when required, so we don't forget where she's come from.
It's a challenging transition for an actor whose character's strength has been her vulnerability and emotional transparency. Sushmita, however, pitches the new, empowered Aarya in a very dramatic way: as if she's enjoying a new game. Her metamorphosis is aided by an all-black power dressing. She's mostly captured at obtuse angles as if to avoid the camera looking at her directly in the eye. Because it's in her eyes that she reveals the fear, weighed down by newfound power.
Indraneil Sengupta reveals himself as Suraj, the husband of Nandini, who gets killed by Maya in Season 2. Interestingly, the actor also went up against a mother on a mission in Sujoy Ghosh's Kahaani (2012). This time, however, he has more screen time and a backstory. Like Sushmita, Indraneil also pitches his character in a way that he comes across as ruthless and opaque, channelling all the ache into vengeance. But again, it's in fleeting tender moments when the camera focuses on his face that his moist eyes do all the talking.
Another new villain, Nalini Sahiba (Ila Arun), postures as more composed and calculating. She's designed as everything that Aarya prides herself on, raised to the power of 10. She's a don with connections, has an army of henchmen with guns, and is a single working mother with the rich experience of reclaiming everything her husband lost. She's also introduced as a lioness huntress in a world where Aarya is positioned as a lioness. Ila lends a regal poise and a playful menace to her part, that's most likely to erupt in Part 2.
There are also familiar foes like ACP Khan and the Russians, but the most formidable threat that stands tall against Aarya is her loss of conscience. While all the above villains give the show its pulse, the heart stems from how a changed Aarya protects her kids from herself. She's fighting the bad guys because that's easier to do with the new resources, but she keeps fleeing from the battle within.
Viren Vazrani, who plays her eldest son Veer, gets several shining moments in this season. He's what Tej could've been had Aarya followed in her family's footsteps instead of her husband. Armed with an assured stance and a confrontational demeanour, Viren holds his own in scenes with Sushmita, as Veer shows his mother the mirror.
Despite the slippery slope, Aarya pledges to trek every time, we always end up rooting for her. Because at the end of the day, she really is a working mother. As a woman who has been cornered and conned by men all her life, she is determined to dream of a better life for her kids. And that's really where the heart and soul of Aarya is: the inevitable self-defeat in becoming what you dreaded all your life.
Entertainment! Entertainment! Entertainment! 🎞️🍿💃 Click to follow our Whatsapp Channel 📲 Your daily dose of gossip, films, shows, celebrities updates all in one place.