‘Not Bob, Bob mausa’
The grace with which Sushmita Sen gently, yet firmly reprimands her 13 year old daughter to draw a boundary when it comes to addressing the newest member in the family on whom she is having a teenage crush makes one exclaim all over again that she is one actress who has been severely under-utilized in the industry.
The ex-Miss Universe didn’t really have a great beginning in her career with Mahesh Bhatt’s launchpad for her, Dastak , turning out to be a damp squib. Nonetheless, Main Hoon Naa  was a great high. She did have a flurry of flops right till No Problem  though before she decided to hang up her boots. However, no one ever questioned her acting skills.
Well, after Aarya, rest assured she would gain quite a few fans all over again, especially amongst the millennial generation which has practically not seen her in action for a new outing at least. She pretty much nails it in this Ram Madhvani [Neerja] created 9 episode series where he has Sandeep Modi and Vinod Rawat as the additional directors. She has the grace, she has the poise, she has the class, and right through the series when she uses a Hindi cuss word just once, it is for a reason and a purpose, and just doesn’t seem out of the place.
Now that’s the best part about Aarya as nothing is really out of the place, right from the premise to the characters to the plot points to the overall storytelling. It is all balanced, and while also being realistic, albeit without getting way too gritty or dark. This also means that unlike the kind of narrative that Indian audiences have started getting used to now when it comes to thrillers in the web series world [Paatal Lok, Special Ops, The Family Man], this one is a slow paced drama.
It is one thing though for slow simmering to result in something explosive, and then another for the narrative to stay uncomfortably laidback right from the first to the last scene. Yes, there is a family set up out there with Chandrachur Singh running a pharma company in Rajasthan (Is it Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur or any other major city? That’s never told), and also indulging in illegal drug business with supplies being sent all the way to Uzbekistan, with wife (Sushmita Sen) and later their three kids knowing all about it. After all, it’s a family business in play.
However, even though here is a family set up out here, the kind of urgency that was seen in a similar set up, Narcos, is not really out there. There is practically just one sequence in the series, when a container exchange needs to be done at a yard in a race against time (and the cop, a part that could have been tailor-made for Om Puri but is played deftly by Vikas Kumar) where there is actually an adrenaline rush. Otherwise, be it a thrilling sequence, a dramatic encounter, a secret been revealed or a true face being unveiled – it’s all done slowly.
This is also due to the (very) odd placement of old songs from the 60s and the 70s that Ram Madhvani experiments with right through the series. While the song ‘Bade Achche Lagte Hain’ [Balika Vadhu] is beaten to death, there are at least half a dozen similar numbers that arrive at the oddest of the moments, and that too at length, case in point being an important character being kidnapped in the dead of the night. Ideally, something as spine chilling as the kind seen in the kidnapping sequence from Sridevi’s Mom would have been more befitting.
Nonetheless, what really works is the core story, the characters who come together, the twists and turns during the proceedings, the surprise factor that strikes at many corners, and above all, Sushmita Sen. You like the manner in which she channelizes everything good and bad happening around her. Be it the sudden responsibility of managing her funds to figuring out her dispute with practically all family members [Jayant Kriplani, Ankur Bhatia] and friends [Namit Das, Sikandar Kher] or dealing with a suave gang-lord [Manish Chaudhary], she is just up there.
As for the others in the business, Chandrachur Singh is truly adorable in a short, yet important part, and should be seen from here. Sikandar Kher’s part could have been more fleshed out but he is almost silent as a character that could have been picked up by Ajay Devgn if he would have wished to play a supporting role.
Namit Das enacts the part of an immature and impulsive man well who wants to build an identity of his own while Manish Chaudhary comes across like a man who has actually been this character for decades. As Sushmita’s sister and sister in law, Priyasha Bhardwaj and Alexx O’Nell are appropriate.
Now had the series been made of 7 instead of 9 episodes and much faster paced, Aarya would have been further higher up in the entertainment quotient. However, it is still one of the select few web series today which can actually be watched with the entire family. After all, at the core of it, this one is a unique mafia family drama for the Indian audience.