Cast: Raveena Tandon, Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Ashutosh Rana, Anna Ador, Breshna Khan and ensemble.
Creator: Rohan Sippy.
Director: Vinay Waikul.
Streaming On: Netflix.
Language: Hindi (with subtitles).
Runtime: Around 45 minutes each.
Aranyak Review: What’s It About:
A new SHO (Parambrata) is appointed at a police station in a remote village in the North of India because the old one (Raveena) is taking a year sabbatical to be with her family. Suddenly an old case is re-opened as the mythical criminal is sighted again in the village. And Tandon has to bounce back to work to prove herself. Politics, class divide and power play run the show.
Aranyak Review: What Works:
(Netflix allotted the first 6 episodes for preview and the analysis focuses only on them.)
Aranyak literally means ‘Of The Forest’. In the Netflix drama that brings back Raveena Tandon on our screens, the major event that triggers the show happens inside the forest. The landscape is such that the people are surrounded by a thick layer of jungle making it look like they have disrupted the wildlife to make their homes. And the man vs animal conflict is also spoken about.
The story that is created by Rohan Sippy and written by Charudutt Acharya and Rohan, Aranyak had a promising premise. A landscape that is stark in the centre of the wild. A system that is progressing at its pace and is corrupt too. Top of it all is a myth of a demon who is half human half leopard. There is a lot to create an interesting screenplay around it. Take Anushka Sharma produced Bulbbul and Rajkummar Rao starrer Stree for example.
The show that begins with the game of power inside a police station, soon goes through a killing, followed by an investigation, followed by the politicians playing their game, followed by a family drama. There are a lot of things to make the show a hit. And the writers with the director do try to touch all of them, but fall into the trap of how much is too much. About that later.
Director Vinay Waikul directs the show in a staple manner. The screenplay keeps shuffling between the multiple setups that we are introduced to in the first 2 or so episodes. There is not much experimenting on his part. Of course, he uses a character’s traumatic past as a flashback to open every episode but where’s the bridge for me to connect to his misery?
Aranyak Review: Star Performance:
Raveena Tandon in back on the screen and still carries the effortless screen presence. But the character given to her suffers a lot of confusion. There is a change in the tonality not once but multiple times and when not needed. She is a mother who wants to be an epitome to her children, a police officer who wants to have a high profile case to her name. There is a inner catharsis she is going through and at the same time a battle too. But the camera never goes deeper into her eyes to let us relate to her.
For example the other release this week, Aarya 2, there are moments where everything stops and the camera only focuses on Sushmita Sen and the multiple emotions that she is holding at that moment. Sometimes just running is not beneficial. With that why can’t a dedicated police officer also be an amazing cook, while her daughter is also master at cooking? Won’t that look beautiful? Raveena being a bad cook and her teenage daughter a Masterchef contender made no sense to me.
Parambrata Chattopadhyay is in a completely different show. Seems like he got a better version of the script and plays his part with dedication. He has a traumatic past and he makes sure you see the burden in his demeanour.
Rest everybody gets one tone characters to play that only do what’s expected out of them without any extra layer.
Aranyak Review: What Doesn’t Work:
The question how much is too much? Should have been asked to the creators every single day they were shaping Aranyak. In the first six episodes the show dives into so many trajectories that bringing them together is nearly impossible by the sixth episode. If that isn’t enough, I am still confused what is exactly the central conflict of the show.
The accent is also one of the biggest problems in Aranyak. The actors and the pivotal ones are introduced in a different accent and they forget it complete some time. The attempt to forcefully speak the dialect is busted when they have to say any English word and the facade is broken.
What they also forget is that they introduce Ashutosh Rana’s retired police officer as someone ‘jinko bhulneki bimari hai’. But never in the course of the show is it acknowledged once and never does Rana forget anything, please explain me this someone. And he is solving the toughest case with the police just so you know.
Even the dialogues try to be very iconic or let’s say genre-appropriate but fall flat. When Meghna Malik says “Hum Sanp Se Hath Nhi Mila Sakte Kyuki Sanp Ke Hath Nhi Hote”, it is outright hilarious while makers want to haunt you with those lines.
Aranyak Review: Last Words:
I was excited for Aranyak and got a completely half baked cake in the end. I hope the final two episodes have something more substantial to offer. Raveena Tandon deserves better.
Fan of slice of life romance dramas? Here’s our Little Things Season 4 Review!