Aashram Chapter 2 The Dark Side review: Bobby Deol’s buff baba is back.
Aashram Chapter 2 The Dark Side review: Bobby Deol’s buff baba is back.

Aashram Chapter 2 review: Bobby Deol needs to rethink his choices after this shockingly amateurish series

Aashram Chapter 2 The Dark Side review: After Race 3, Housefull 4, Class of 83 and this, Bobby Deol needs to sit down and rethink his choices. This is pure, unadulterated torture -- a show that disrespects its own audience.
By Rohan Naahar | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON NOV 11, 2020 03:25 PM IST

Aashram Chapter 2: The Dark Side
Director - Prakash Jha
Cast - Bobby Deol, Aaditi Pohankar, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Darshan Kumaar, Anupriya Goenka

Prakash Jha thinks you’re stupid. The sheer contempt that his debut web series, Aashram, has for its viewers can only be rivalled by the condescension with which its anti-hero protagonist Baba Nirala treats his ‘bhakts’. It’s fitting that a show about an abusive, arrogant and obnoxious man be just as patronising to the people that watch it.

In the grand scheme of things, however, Aashram isn’t entirely useless. Shows such as this fulfil a purpose in the entertainment ecosystem — their utter incompetence puts things in perspective.

Watch the Aashram Chapter 2: The Dark Side trailer here

 

The existence of nine new episodes, which constitute a ‘chapter two’, points to a far greater conspiracy than anything that unfolds in the actual series. Why, for instance, did ‘chapter one’ end as abruptly as it did — not on a cliffhanger, as creator Jha perhaps thought (or hoped), but almost mid-sentence? Why are the episodes shorter this time around? And what prompted MX Player to splice the series in half?

You ought to know that none of these questions are answered in the Aashram Chapter 2: The Dark Side. If anything, Jha’s tall claim that chapter one was watched by over 400 million people only raises more doubts.

Here’s a theory, though: Faced with a dwindling bank of ‘content’ because of the pandemic, and with probably around ten episodes of 50 minutes each ready to go, MX Player decided, at the cost of quality, to force Jha to divide Aashram into two parts, and pad it up with filler material lying on the cutting room floor. The end result is as baffling as it is shocking — a story so poorly told, and a show so badly made that you almost want to stage a ‘dharna’ against Jha for outraging the modesty of a beloved art-form.

In a year that has given us Breathe: Into the Shadows, Mrs Serial Killer and Laxmii, Aashram somehow lowers the bar even further. That the torture was stretched over three months only makes it worse.

The entirety of chapter two could have been condensed into a couple of episodes. The plot is deliberately stretched to a breaking point, with interminable scenes of unrelenting repetitiveness. Over and over again, we’re shown glimpses of Baba Nirala’s misdeeds, but his motivations remain as murky as ever. Is he in it for the political power? Or is he simply a man with a particularly acute god complex?

We never find out. At no point does the show pause for breath and take us inside the mind of Baba Nirala. There’s no evidence to suggest that he even buys into his own myth. The Baba, it would seem, is merely a common goon playing dress up, trapped in a con that has gone on longer than he’d anticipated. And he’s pretty bad at being a criminal as well.

Bobby Deol’s baba sets his sights on Pammi.
Bobby Deol’s baba sets his sights on Pammi.

But the walls are closing in. A couple of rogue cops have infiltrated the aashram in an attempt to uncover the truth. The chief minister, meanwhile, is engaged in a game of thrones with him. But what really gets the ball rolling is the Baba’s own hubris. While his history of sexual abuse had always been implied, in chapter two we see the predator on the prowl. He drugs and rapes Pammi, the wrestling champion who was brainwashed into joining the cult in chapter one, but unlike the scores of women who’ve found themselves in a similar position before her, she decides to put an end to the Baba’s misconduct.

I could get into the show’s problematic handling of these scenes, but honestly, it feels like going on a fool’s errand. I object, and I hope others do too. This story isn’t entirely fictional, as we know, but instead of capturing the very real sadness of such tales, Aashram revels in the sleaze.

And it does so in a comically amateurish manner. The sound mix is so poor that actors’ mouths routinely move independently of the words that we’re hearing. On other occasions, the voices of characters in the same scene are mixed unevenly, making it sound as if one of them is in a cavern, and the other in an open field. I’ve seen YouTube vlogs with better production values.

Also read: Aashram review: Bobby Deol’s show has a bark that’s worse than its bite

I struggle to understand whom this show is catering to. It clearly wants to be counted among the more mainstream OTT hits India has produced in the last couple of years, but its sensibilities are stuck in the early 2000s, when Ekta Kapoor was ruling the roost. Some of Jha’s techniques are bizarre enough to feel right at home in a K-serial — clunky flashbacks scored to clanging music, freeze-frames, and uniformly wooden performances by a cast that is clearly struggling to make the most of what it has been given.

We must, therefore, also re-examine the Bobby Deol gravy train. In a star-obsessed country such as India, it is possible for actors to coast by on the strength of goodwill alone — what else can explain the Bobbysance? But with his post-comeback resume dominated by projects such as Race 3, Housefull 4 and Class of 83, the actor will have to recognise the difference between short-term success and long-term respect. He knows better than most how fleeting fame can be.

Follow @htshowbiz for more
The author tweets @RohanNaahar

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
Pavitra Punia and Eijaz Khan on Bigg Boss 14.(Colors)
Pavitra Punia and Eijaz Khan on Bigg Boss 14.(Colors)

Pavita Punia promises she and Eijaz Khan will give some 'good news' soon

PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 02:55 PM IST
Bigg Boss 14: Claiming that staying apart has made them realise each other's importance in their lives, Pavitra Punia promises her fans that she and Eijaz Khan will have some 'good news' soon.
Close
Pamela Anderson is best known for starring in television hit Baywatch.
Pamela Anderson is best known for starring in television hit Baywatch.

Pamela Anderson gets married for sixth time, ties knot with her bodyguard

PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 02:13 PM IST
Former actor Pamela Anderson has gotten married to her bodyguard Dan Hayhurst. The two tied the knot on Christmas Eve last year.
Close
Devoleena Bhattacharjee admits she has a boyfriend.(Colors)
Devoleena Bhattacharjee admits she has a boyfriend.(Colors)

Bigg Boss 14: Rakhi wants to play Cupid, Devoleena reveals she has a boyfriend

PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 01:16 PM IST
Bigg Boss 14: When Rakhi Sawant tried to play Cupid for Devoleena Bhattacharjee and Rahul Vaidya, the TV star revealed she has a boyfriend.
Close
Eijaz Khan responded to the comments made by Paras Chhabra against Pavitra Punia.
Eijaz Khan responded to the comments made by Paras Chhabra against Pavitra Punia.

Eijaz Khan on Paras Chhabra’s comments on Pavitra Punia: ‘All of us have a past'

PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 01:02 PM IST
Eijaz Khan opened up about the negative comments made about his ladylove Pavitra Punia by her ex-boyfriend Paras Chhabra. Paras had accused Pavitra of hiding her marriage from him when they were in a relationship.
Close
Rakhi Sawant on Bigg Boss 14.(Colors)
Rakhi Sawant on Bigg Boss 14.(Colors)

Bigg Boss 14 promo: Rubina, Abhinav plan on ruining Rakhi's game

PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 12:49 PM IST
Bigg Boss 14 promo: Rubina Dilaik and Abhinav Shukla try their best to ruin Rakhi Sawant's game while the latter threatens him that she will make his life miserable.
Close
Rubina Dilaik had to fall into the swimming pool a few times.(Colors)
Rubina Dilaik had to fall into the swimming pool a few times.(Colors)

Bigg Boss 14 promo: Rubina Dilaik keeps falling into swimming pool, here's why

PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 07:11 AM IST
Bigg Boss 14: Rubina Dilaik felt clearly unwell after she had to fall into the swimming pool a few times, the latest promo showed.
Close
Vikas and Rubina during a fight.(Colors)
Vikas and Rubina during a fight.(Colors)

Bigg Boss 14 day 113: Vikas fights with Arshi, Rubina and Nikki

PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 11:52 PM IST
Bigg Boss 14 day 113: Vikas was seen locking horns with one and all. Meanwhile, Rubina claimed Devoleena did not appreciate Vikas kissing her.
Close
Hiten Tejwani was refusing other projects, because shooting a daily meant no time to spare.
Hiten Tejwani was refusing other projects, because shooting a daily meant no time to spare.

Hiten Tejwani on TV show ending abruptly: My reputation won’t be harmed

UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2021 08:26 PM IST
Television is unpredictable and every actor who works on the medium knows that but this month, Hiten Tejwani had a bitter realisation
Close
Ekta Kapoor with her son Ravie.
Ekta Kapoor with her son Ravie.

Ekta Kapoor wishes son Ravie a happy birthday with sweet Instagram post

PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 02:28 PM IST
Ekta Kapoor penned a sweet note for her son, Ravie, on his second birthday. She welcomed him via surrogacy in 2019.
Close
Vikas Gupta does not share a very good relationship with his mother.
Vikas Gupta does not share a very good relationship with his mother.

Bigg Boss 14: Vikas Gupta’s mother makes vote appeal despite strained relations

PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 02:20 PM IST
Despite having a strained relationship with Vikas Gupta, his mother Sharda put up an Instagram post urging fans to vote for him in Bigg Boss 14.
Close
Shehnaaz Gill with Sidharth Shukla on her birthday.
Shehnaaz Gill with Sidharth Shukla on her birthday.

Shehnaaz Gill celebrates birthday with Sidharth, he throws her in pool

PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 10:56 AM IST
Shehnaaz Gill celebrated her 28th birthday at midnight with rumoured boyfriend Sidharth Shukla and her family. Check out their videos.
Close
Arshi Khan claimed she never exposed Vikas Gupta's personal matter on the show, but he did it himself.(Colors)
Arshi Khan claimed she never exposed Vikas Gupta's personal matter on the show, but he did it himself.(Colors)

Bigg Boss 14: Vikas alleges Arshi blackmailed him, this video backs his claims

PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 10:47 AM IST
Bigg Boss 14: Even as Arshi Khan refuted Vikas Gupta's claims that she blackmails him, a video surfaced online showcasing Arshi threatening Vikas with the 'recordings' that she has.
Close
Vikas Gupta has been aggressive on Bigg Boss 14 for past few days.(Colors)
Vikas Gupta has been aggressive on Bigg Boss 14 for past few days.(Colors)

Bigg Boss 14 promo: Vikas Gupta fights with Nikki Tamboli

PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 09:23 AM IST
Bigg Boss 14: When Nikki Tamboli told Vikas Gupta that he kissing people, he asked Devoleena Bhattacharjee to give him a peck on the cheek.
Close
Vikas Gupta took names as he complained about being tortured by his own family and loved ones.(Colors)
Vikas Gupta took names as he complained about being tortured by his own family and loved ones.(Colors)

Bigg Boss 14: Kamya slams Vikas Gupta for taking names

PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 07:38 AM IST
Bigg Boss 14: Kamya Panjabi criticises Vikas Gupta for naming people who are not on the show. Rashami Desai, on the other hand, cheered him on.
Close
Shehnaaz Gill once had a full duet with a crow on Bigg Boss.
Shehnaaz Gill once had a full duet with a crow on Bigg Boss.

On Shehnaaz's birthday, her most hilarious moments from Bigg Boss house

UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2021 07:29 AM IST
Shehnaaz Gill is easily one of the most hilarious contestants that the Bigg Boss house has ever hosted. On her birthday, we are bringing back some of her funniest moments on the show.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP