Sunday, June 16
Aarya 3 review A rousing finale to a deeply unsettling

Aarya 3 review: A rousing finale to a deeply unsettling conclusion | Web Series


Aarya 3 review: Creator Ram Madhvani revealed right in the opening shot of the Season 3 trailer of his family crime drama Aarya that Sushmita Sen’s titular character gets shot. The rest of the season unfolds in flashback, but the investigation isn’t so much about why she gets shot, how she gets there, whether she survives, or who pulls the trigger. While all these questions and discoveries leave great scope for thrill, it’s the larger, overarching question that Ram is most interested in: Does Aarya get closure?

Sushmita Sen in Aarya - Antim Vaar
Sushmita Sen in Aarya – Antim Vaar

(Also Read: Ram Madhvani interview: ‘I wanted Sushmita Sen to play Aarya in S3 like a mythological character’)

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Closing all loops

Family crime drama is a genre that keeps giving. From Francis Ford Coppola’s iconic Godfather trilogy to Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s recent Bollywood blockbuster Animal, there’s so much to swallow, chew, wash down, and digest. From the relentless thrills of its screenplay to the underlying commentary about how a generation’s choices inform the next one’s and how the kids end up becoming exactly what they despised of in their birth-givers – a family crime drama makes for an endlessly sumptuous feast.

Aarya gets all the beats of this genre right only because Ram and his co-directors Kapil Sharma and Shraddha Pasi Jairath are able to consistently strike the perfect balance of thrill and drama. Unlike the recent Prime Video India Original show Indian Police Force, one can’t make out which scene is directed by Rohit Shetty and which ones are helmed by his lesser co-director Sushwant Prakash. The thread through all seasons of Aarya is laced with its ideology – and that’s what lends the show a riveting personality of its own.

This doesn’t imply that Aarya remains static. Like its protagonist, the show has also evolved from its first instalment in 2020 to its last in 2024. Sushmita Sen’s Aarya Sareen has remained a fiercely protective mother and a woman with gifted self-preservation skills, but one can see tangible growth from the relatively hapless widow of Season 1 to the indefatigable force of nature in Season 3.2. In fact, Aarya really comes a full circle in the first and last seasons, where she’s sceptical about the world of crime as opposed to in Season 2 and 3, where she’s in the eye of the storm, and to an extent, even owning it.

It’s difficult to forget the scene in Season 1 when an inconsolable Sushmita bites into the shadi ka laddoo after her husband’s murder. Season 3 starts with her enjoying a cigar by her swimming pool, yet Antim Vaar never catches her smoking; she’s mostly sipping onto wine after the day’s business at night, reflecting on the life that’s been, instead of planning the next big deal. Sushmita Sen lends so much ease to this extremely demanding and challenging arc. She’s as much at peace when she breaks down on the floor as she’s bloodying a sword. Sushmita preserves every bit of her through the show, only to unleash her inner Durga in the rousing finale.

Unsettling season, rousing finale

The said finale is the perfect shot in the arm (no pun intended) for a deeply unsettling season. While most of Aarya was steeped in a doomed sauce of foreboding or carrying the baggage of a life-altering tragedy, the concluding season damages you in a new vein. Neither Aarya’s abiding do-gooder streak nor her conniving, resourceful ways can get her through the web of defeat life has got herself into. There’s a constant sinking feeling, of an anchor weighing down your throat, that you fight – as if nothing is going to be the same again. It changes only in the last episode when Aarya comes into her own, reconciles to her fate, and lets loose like a beast with nothing to lose.

Concluding a family crime drama is a slippery slope because each generation keeps avenging the other. For instance, when Veer’s girlfriend Roop dies at the end of Season 3.1, we see him spreading her ashes to the tune of Bade Ache Lagte Hain, the same song that Aarya remembers her husband by. When Veer disowns Aarya, her mother tells her that children can’t remain hurt by their mother – and moments later, we see Aarya hugging her mother, a woman she was hurt by. The karma comes calling for not only Aarya, but also Khan when he loses a close associate and realises – in his blind quest to catch Aarya red-handed, he has lost irretrievably. Daulat (Sikandar Kher), who shot their father, ends up saving Aarya’s children. *spoiler alert* And finally, Aarya, whose husband was killed by her gangster-father’s right-hand man, ends up getting shot by her own *spoiler alert ends*.

There do remain some sour points though – Geetanjali Kulkarni’s character of Sushila, who one expected to unravel in unexpected ways, is given a short shrift this season as well, wasting a terrific actor in the process. Ila Arun did a lot of talking and posturing in the previous instalment, but her menacing personality loses its sheen when her ways get repetitive, her son gets more annoying, and her English accent more awkward. Sushmita repeating her oath, “Maine jo bhi kiya, apne bachchon ke liye kiya” gets exhausting, before Daulat asks her to do, instead of say. Snapping out of the verbal loop does help in escaping the narrative circles as well.

When you finally see Sushmita scream her lungs out and strike like a goddess, you feel that carnal instinct in your bones. You stop fretting over the fate of her family, worrying if it’s really the last of arguably India’s best show so far, and praying that the prospective prey in all of us doesn’t meet a tragic end. Like Aarya, you know the end is near, but are ready to embrace it because you got the closure you needed.

Aarya – Antim Vaar is now streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.

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