Ram Madhvani: ‘Wanted Sushmita Sen to play Aarya like a mythological character’ | Web Series - Hindustan Times
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Ram Madhvani interview: ‘I wanted Sushmita Sen to play Aarya in S3 like a mythological character’

ByDevansh Sharma
Nov 06, 2023 06:15 AM IST

In an exclusive interview, Ram Madhvani discusses how he and Sushmita Sen designed the transformation of Aarya from a defenceless mother to an urban legend.

Ram Madhvani is busy filming the show The Waking of Nation, based on the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. But in the middle of the shoot, the filmmaker takes some time out to talk about a small family in Rajasthan grappling with issues external and internal. (Also Read: Aarya Season 3 review: Sushmita Sen, Ram Madhvani don't skip a beat, add more style, pulse and heart to this drama)

Sushmita Sen in and as Aarya in Season 3
Sushmita Sen in and as Aarya in Season 3

In an exclusive interview, Ram talks about Aarya Season 3, how he and Sushmita Sen designed the titular character's transformation, and when part 2 of this season is coming out. Excerpts:

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Last I checked, Aarya rose to the occasion in Season 2 finale, but was still hesitant at pulling the trigger. But in Season 3, right from the start, she's entered her Don era. What has changed?

You'd notice that she smiles and laughs very less. It's the burden of losing her innocence, the responsibility of some of the sacrifices she's had to make for her family. These weigh heavy on her heart. Externally, she's doing what she has to do, but internally, these are things she never wanted to do. So here's a woman who's doing stuff she never wanted to do but is now doing it – and guess what, is perhaps even enjoying it.

What was your brief to Sushmita Sen on how to pitch the new Aarya differently?

Aarya has become a part of an urban legend. There's a certain urban myth to her. So the conversations I was having with Sushmita was: ‘If this was a mythological, how would you play it?' To use a bad example, if it's a mythological show, people don't say, “Arey, winter is coming na.” They say, “Winter. Is. Coming” (Laughs). So everything about her tone, her speech has become watchful. That I have to be careful of what I'm saying. That I no longer am speaking like this. I. Am. Speaking. Like. This. The reason is that she's come to a place where she doesn't know who she can trust. The price of maturity is the loss of innocence. So you become wary, tense, careful of what you say.

You extend the theme of intergenerational crime and violence in this season through Aarya's kids. What was your lens on that process of osmosis?

Families are influenced by the generations before us. No matter what we do, we imbibe everything, sometimes even the toxicity. It's so sad, right? She's sacrificed everything for her children, she's doing it for them. But her children are watching her and actually becoming exactly what she did not want them to become. And this is the price she had to pay. So in some ways, what we've been trying to do with Aarya is make it a tragedy while it's a family show. Be careful of what you become because it does come down to your family. It's not a crime show, that's there of course. But it's about a mother saying “Ek maa apne bachchon ke liye kuchh bhi kar sakti hai.” That's fine. But what about the price of that? The responsibilities of that? The repercussions of that?

Aarya's eldest kid, Veer, has been the one handling his siblings who spiralled in the first two seasons dealing with their father's loss. But in this season, it's Veer who snaps. What scope did you see in his character arc?

There's a flash of these kids when they're with their father in the hospital in one of the episodes. When I saw that while editing, I said, Wow, they look so innocent, so young. And now you see them, sab bachche bade ho gaye hain. Veer is having an affair, he's going to be a father. When you see his graph through what his eyes have become. Those eyes were pure once, and now they've become troubled and confused. This is a troubled kid who's dealing with a lot of sh*t. Aarya never wanted to become her father. Veer also doesn't want to become his mother. But they're all becoming each other (laughs). That's so sad, right? It's a tragic story. You can't help it because the mahaul, the environment, the situation is like that.

Aarya prides herself on being a 'working mother.' She's combated men all her life. But she's never gone against another mother in a big way. Is that where Ila Arun's character of Nalini Sahiba comes in? That if Aarya is the sherni, Nalini is the one who does sherni ka shikaar, quite literally?

I'm fascinated by how women are dealing with different facets of life. I'm obviously looking at it as an outsider because of my very gender. But the very fact that they can play mother, sister, wife, friend, girlfriend, worker – and how they change the priorities of those roles and how they deal with moral crises of those roles – are you going to be a wife or will be away for work? Are you going to be a mother or manage a joint family? They navigate these roles with a lot of grace and courtesy sometimes, which is very admirable. So if I have the choice of casting a man or a woman in that role, I'd always cast a woman. It could've been a man, but a woman who's yet dealing with being a mother, a working woman, the vagaries of her son, the business she's dealing in – those many roles aren't the ones that men carry. Men carry a single role, while women carry multiple roles. The tightrope walking between those roles is why we decided that we should have Ila Arun in that role. As an actor, I've been of course wanting to work with her forever. She has an incredible presence. More than that, it was that because it had to be a woman.

Speaking of Ila Arun, she's from Jaipur and so am I. What does the city lend to the world of Aarya that you decided to set it up there?

Many years ago, when I was thinking of how to adapt Penoza, I thought it could be very alienating if not given the right cultural context. My nieces come from Jaipur. The joint family, the pharmaceutical business were all things I'd lived with. I could've set it in Gujarat since I'm a Gujarati, or even in Maharashtra, but when I was watching at close quarters the hospitality, the family system, the value system, the joint family dynamics, the way they were navigating all of that, I thought it'd be the right setting for Aarya.

My only gripe with Aarya Season 3 was that it was too short. When can we see Part 2 of this season unfold?

Am I allowed to tell you? I can tell you the exact date right now (laughs). There'll be an NDA I'll have to renegotiate if I tell you. I apologise for keeping you in a state of suspense, but that's a good state to be in. And that's what I'll enjoy you being in.

Part 1 of Aarya Season 3 is streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.

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