Sushmita Sen plays a desperate but warm mother, who is willing to do anything to protect her family, amidst her family’s business of drugs and internal betrayal.

The official remake of the Dutch show Penoza, Aarya is created by Ram Madhvani (Neerja) and Sandeep Modi. The show flows pretty close to its original, and rightly so, however it’s the cultural changes and rooted milieu that throws a fresher look on the show. Aarya revolves around the Sareen family, influential, powerful, respected or rather feared in Jaipur.

In one of the scenes, a father warns an American poet/musician, “In India, you don’t just marry the girl, you marry the family.” Tej (Chandrachur Singh) knows exactly what this means, however for once, he is the one carrying the white flag of honesty and truth. His family comprises his wife Aarya (Sushmita Sen), three children, and old Bollywood songs. Tej is the CEO of a pharmaceutical company that sells illegal medicines, laced with Opium.

On top of this already illegal trade, his gluttonous brother-in-law Sangram (Ankur Bhatia) and desperate friend Jawahar (Namit Das) flick a Rs 300-crore cocaine consignment from under the nose of Shekhawat (Manish Chaudhary), who rather was an acquaintance they didn’t want to bother. Not giving in, and wanting no more of it, Tej makes a plan to leave and disappear with his family, as they were the dearest to him. However, a skewed ending to the first episode turns Aarya’s life completely upside down. From this point on, the family dynamics also take a hit as money, drugs, cops and hitmen are in play, all looking for different things. A pen-drive is in play, which reveals all the secrets of a rather large drug syndicate, pointing directly at the Sareen family and Aarya Pharmaceuticals.

A business that she stayed away from for so long, and even ran away, had now come back to haunt her and her precious family. Aarya has no chance but to pick all the strength and courage, and finish what her husband started. With every step she takes, the maze just keeps getting further complicated. She is chased by Khan (Vikas Kumar), a cop from the Narcotics department, who is super passive aggressive and even threatens with a certain calm in his tone. Not only him, but she also comes in contact with Shekhawat, who shows the ones involved what happens when someone tries to cross lines with him. 

In one of the scenes, a therapist tells Sen that her youngest child Adi (Pratyaksh Panwar), reciprocates the way she is behaving and that till she doesn’t open up, it will be difficult for him too. To this, Sen replies that nothing is normal for her to be normal. There is enough grief and tension within her own family, may it be with her nonconformist daughter Aru (Virti Vaghani) or an innocent boy blinded by adolescent love Veer (Viren Vazirani). Though, we do feel empathy for Sen’s character as she comes from an equal messed up family, including a head of the house patriarch who is also cool (Jayant Kripalani), a salty mother (Sohaila Kapur), an overaggressive and sexist brother (Ankur Bhatia) and a spoilt but innocent sister (Priyasha Bhardwaj).

Directors Madhwani, Modi and Rawat put in all the effort they can in keeping the audience hooked into this narrative maze, with sub-plots and interpersonal dynamics as well, along with the criminality aspect of the show. With every episode, there is a certain sense or urgency projected within the show, which however Sen’s character faces silence. There may be some dull moments while building up to the climatic end, however the small touches sprinkled by the supporting cast never lets it spiral down, ironic to the plot which gets messier by the minute.

Sushmita Sen is at the centre of a talented bunch of actors that fulfil their characters with utmost dignity and add a cherry on top of a rather interesting story. In one way or the other, each character gets his spotlight within the show and none of them fail to impress. Let it be the coke addict maniac Jawahar (Namit Das), his wife Maya (Maya Sarao), the silent right hand of the patriarch Daulat (Sikandar Kher) who always operates within the shadows but gets the job done. However, it is Sen, who resurrects her career with this one. There is not a single time when her character faces a single emotion. Its always waves of emotions, creating complex internal and external struggles that Sen portrays beautifully. May it be the powerful adrenaline rush while chasing the rival kingpin or her love for her family or her smartness and manipulation, Sen takes this character to another level and puts on a performance for us to remember.

Something to look forward to at the end of every episode, Aarya is packed with enough twists and revelations that keeps its audience hooked, aided by a fine performance put together by a beautiful cast.


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