The show spotlights the drug trade in Rajasthan through the lives of a well-to-do family that falls on hard times. Based on the Spanish series Penoza, the series hinges on the lives of Aarya, her husband Tej and their three children and the grave consequences that the former has to face as a result of a drug deal gone wrong.
A family full of secrets
At the beginning, the Sareen family seems picture-perfect. They live in a luxe, multi-storeyed home. Aarya Sareen (Sushmita Sen) is a mother of three: Veer, a soft-spoken young boy coming to terms with adolescence, Aru, an angsty teenage girl and Adi, a sad little boy who’s being bullied at school. Poised and efficient at all times, Aarya is the daughter of an affluent family with clout. They own a pharmaceutical business that her husband Tej Sareen (Chandrachur Singh) manages with his two partners, Sangram, Aarya’s hot-headed brother and Jawahar (Namit Das), a cocaine-sniffing old friend.
However, it’s soon revealed that family is far from ideal. Aarya’s father Zorawar sets aside his wife for a younger woman, leaving her mother to take to the bottle. Tej, who is the CEO of Aaryasattva Pharmaceuticals, Aarya’s family-owned firm and opium plantation, is killed in the second episode. This happens soon after he declares to his wife that he’s ready to give up the old ways of business and move far away with her and the kids. Even as the entire family struggles to come to terms with his sudden death, things begin to crumble around Aarya, who gets pulled into the drug trade after her brother is arrested for possession, to make up for a botched drug deal run by her husband and his partners. In the process, Aarya hopes to discover her husband’s killer.
It’s a one-woman show
Aarya’s transformation is terrific. From being an involved mother and dutiful daughter and sister, she becomes a tough-as-nails “lioness”. That’s what Daulat (Sikandar Kher), her father’s right-hand man, calls her. She was somebody who refuses to offer bribes, but this changes with time.
Slowly but surely, she learns how to keep her head afloat in a largely male-dominated world, doing everything in her power to put this ordeal behind her. Unfortunately, it is Aarya who must pay for the mistakes of her husband and his partners. She deals with threats, betrayals and much worse, finally coming to the conclusion that nobody can be trusted. Sen is brilliant on screen, filling it with her magnetic personality and carrying the weight of the plot on her shoulders.
While she negotiates cops and mafia bosses, she tries to keep her family together. It’s been hard on the children. Veer finds solace in the arms of a raunchy young girl named Pallavi, while Aru takes to music, painting and poetry. Adi, on the other hand, is the most disturbed and undergoes therapy.
WATCH OR NOT
Aarya is a fine show, with a pacy story that gets progressively darker, and rounded characters. Sushmita Sen makes an impressive comeback. Her exceptional performance is aided by Sikander Kher, Manish Chaudhry and Vikas Kumar.
Creators: Ram Madhvani, Sandeep Modi
Writer: Sandeep Shrivastava, Anu Singh Choudhary
Cast: Sushmita Sen, Chandrachur Singh, Manish Chaudhary, Namit Das, Sikandar Kher, Sugandha Garg
Streaming on: Disney+ Hotstar