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Raveena Tandon's 'Aranyak' Reels You In And Leaves You Wanting For More
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Raveena Tandon's 'Aranyak' Reels You In And Leaves You Wanting For More

Review of the 8-episode long season one of Netflix's new show, Aranyak starring Raveena Tandon.

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Aranyak

Aranyak Reels You Into Its World And Leaves You Wanting For More

Lush forests, cold mountains, small town cafes and charms all around, Sironah is a world that is likeable at first glance. But nothing is really as it seems. Like an experienced doctor meticulously carrying out a post-mortem, we get a glimpse of the realities of this town slowly revealed in bits and pieces through each episode.

And what we find out over the course of eight episodes is good too, in parts it is awesome. But in some places, it falls dangerously into the formulaic multi-verse of mystery dramas. In a world where people switch content apps like channels, it is really difficult to stand out and to be memorable.

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Aranyak is definitely memorable for its stellar performances by all the cast members. It was good to see old faces like Lalit Parimoo, Zakir Hussain and Meghna Malik in important roles again, and it was a treat to see Ashutosh Rana stealing scene after scene with his portrayal of the analytical, obsessive, slightly mad-cap of a father-in-law to the stoic and solid character of Raveena Tandon’s protagonist, Kasturi Dogra. Backed with reliable actors like Parambrata Chattopadhyay (who make any characters their own), Tandon was believable as a small-town cop with her narrow-minded outlook and a rather, shoot-first-ask-later approach while dealing with interrogations.

Speaking of which, the story and written material of the show, helmed by Charudutt Acharya, has much scope and room to be developed even further, should the show be renewed for a second season. With parallel timelines showing the history of the place and what fate lies ahead for some of the characters, this is a true playground for the writer ahead. Benefit of the doubt can be given to the seemingly backward depiction of the small-town characters, especially Tandon’s, who pre-dominantly shows traits that have been traditionally attributed to toxic, male characters. All the other characters, and the actors playing them, are safe in their respective spots and round off the story together nicely.

The most pleasant surprise was to see Milind Shinde, the Marathi actor playing the faithful man Friday, Nandan, to Meghna Malik’s character in the show. True to his USP, the various faces that he put up in Aranyak have been a treat to watch. Apart from the superb casting, kudos must be given to the writer for creating memorable and dynamic older characters whose morality compass may be a little off but make for great entertainment. To write characters like these automatically creates a space for mature actors to shine brightly with their seasoned craft, and maybe more than the cyan jungles of Sironah itself, the audience probably stuck around for them more.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Actors Raveena Tandon, Parambrata Chattopadhyay and Ashutosh Rana in  posters for the new Netflix show, <em>Aranyak</em>.</p></div>

Actors Raveena Tandon, Parambrata Chattopadhyay and Ashutosh Rana in posters for the new Netflix show, Aranyak.

Netflix

The treatment shown of the foreign characters in the show, while unfortunate, is still true in our country which makes them run pillar-to-post for justice. Also truer is the stance taken by certain male characters towards the sensitive topic of consent, irrespective of their ages.

Tandon’s husband in the show, Hari Dogra, played by Vivek Madan, is one such character trapped by the limiting male insecurities of a husband whose wife is more successful or popular than he is. Vivek Madan captures the essence of the character beautifully and makes you angry over his indiscretions and shortcomings. However, the time has come for us to move away from the usual jealous-so-I-will-act-out-stupidly husband tropes and maybe write a more mature disintegration of a relationship that has run its course. If they were separated yet co-parenting/co-existing sensitively together, then that would have elevated each character even more and introduced a side of human nature to the audience that is not predictable or jaded.

Relationships fall apart and we see many different kinds of it in our lives nowadays. That representation needs to come on the screen rather than just showing us an idealistic yet flawed woman who has to come home from a gruelling day of work to taunts from a disappointing and childish husband who won’t pick up the slack around the house due to his inert maleness. It is known that art emulates life, but sometimes, the art can influence lives too, thus creating a more inclusive nature.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Actor Vivek Madan, who plays Hari Dogra,&nbsp;in a still from the Netflix show, <em>Aranyak</em></p></div>

Actor Vivek Madan, who plays Hari Dogra, in a still from the Netflix show, Aranyak

Netflix

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Technically, the world created for us and captured beautifully by the sobering cinematography of Saurabh Goswami with the direction of Vinay Waikul, is a place of wonder and the shots capturing the mountain life, which is not normal for most of us, almost makes it seems like all of this is happening inside a glass globe and you are watching it detachedly from above. A more believable rationale behind the actions of some characters would definitely have made them more relatable and real. Parambrata’s character of Angad Malik, the audience-surrogate, displays real frustration and indignations of what we feel during some of the very Sironah-esque moments of the show, making him the most relatable out of the lot.

The writer has also very carefully banked upon and observed the Indian affinity towards superstitions and fantasies to create a monster that supposedly haunts the town and the hills. Symbolic in parts of the many evils that humans embody themselves, the mythical creature holds a place of interest and it will be interesting to see how this arc is taken forward. A certain amount of willful suspension of disbelief is needed while watching this show, but hey, if you want to escape from your mundane routine life for the weekend, this show can be a good distraction.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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