After watching the first two seasons of Aarya, we don’t think it would wrong to say that it is one of the best crime thrillers in the Indian OTT space. Based on Dutch drama series Penoza, the Ram Madhvani series takes the viewers through the adventures of Aarya Sareen, who transforms herself from a homemaker to a ruthless businesswoman stubborn about keeping her family safe and protecting them at any cost. Created by Ram Madhvani and Sandeep Modi, Aarya is a Disney+ Hotstar Special that has completed two seasons and garnered rave reviews for its intense storytelling, direction, and wonderful performances by the entire cast. The third season is set to release on November 3, 2023, and this article will give you a quick recap of what has happened so far in the life of Aarya Sareen.
Aarya began with herself and Tej Sareen living a luxurious life in Rajasthan. They are happily married with three kids and are burdened by plenty of family dynamics to cater to. Aarya must navigate between her separated parents and tolerate her father’s mistress. Meanwhile, her brother Sangram, along with Tej and another business associate, Jawahar, run a pharmaceutical company as a front for their illegal drug production and distribution cartel. Danger always lurks around them, and most of the men walked on eggshells for the kind of business and people they dealt with.
Aarya’s life falls apart when Tej is shot and killed just a few days after he promised her a life in New Zealand, away from the cartel for a fresh start. Aarya had no choice but to step up and take over the business because Sangram was sent to jail for possession of drugs, and Jawahar had no authority over business decisions. Aarya was forced to become a businesswoman to avoid debt piling over her, and she shook hands with the enemy to survive.
Aarya’s brother Sangram had stolen hardcore narcotic drugs worth 300 crores from the rival cartel run by Shekhawat, and this created a tumultuous path for Aarya because she believes Tej became the first casualty of this fight between two powerful cartels.
Amidst the chaos that was unleashed on her after Tej’s death, she had to deal with the trauma her kids were put through, who lost a great father in Tej. Veer was trying to delve into his first real romantic relationship, while Arundathi, aka Aru, was channeling her anger and pain through poetry. Adi, the youngest son, witnessed Tej’s death and struggles with nightmares.
Aarya had to deal with betrayal and form new friendships to survive. She had no choice but to work with Shekhawat’s cartel to make sure she was able to financially provide for her family. Jawahar, who was Tej and Sangram’s best friend and business partner, ended up betraying Aarya a couple of times and attempting to murder her as well. Unfortunately, her sister Soundarya ended up becoming collateral damage at the end of the first season.
ACP Younus Khan of the Narcotics Wing, along with police officer Bhairon Singh, are adamant about getting their hands on a pen drive, which Tej promised them in exchange for his family’s safe exit from the country. Khan is a diligent and honest officer who preferred playing things by the book. He is keen to watch Aarya make a misstep, which will be the basis for arresting her. Younus Khan is a closeted gay man who is struggling with his relationship with his boyfriend, Ajay. Younus and Aarya have a love-hate relationship with each other throughout the two seasons. There are times he feels sorry for her, which gives his arc a human angle.
Aarya’s friend Maya, who is married to Jawahar, goes through a phase of utter disbelief and confusion regarding whom to trust. Aarya is Maya’s childhood best friend, while Jawahar her husband and they have a child together. Maya’s arc in the first two seasons is excellent. She and Aarya have many disagreements, but Maya ends up showing her loyalty to Aarya when she needs her the most.
The first season ended with Aarya learning of her father’s role in killing Tej. He ordered his loyal man, Daulat, to kill his son-in-law before he went to the police and put an end to the cartel. Aarya not only excommunicated her father from her life, but she submitted the pen drive as proof of the list of crimes her father and Sangram committed over the years. Aarya, under the pretext of giving away all the 300-crore worth of drugs to its original owner, Shekhawat, killed him and his associates in broad daylight. A Michael Corleone-esque style of eliminating her enemies puts Aarya on pedestal as someone who everyone underestimates because of her gender. Aarya and her children received threats from the Russian mafia and were whisked off to Australia instead of New Zealand under the witness protection program provided by ACP Younus Khan.
In the second season, Aarya had to return to her home country as she was forced to testify against her brother and father. She refused to part ways from her children, and they join her and live in the prosecution’s allotted safe house. The safe house is breached when Aarya is attacked just a few days before her day at court, which could make or break her family. Her testimony eventually saves her father and brother from a long jail sentence, but she finds a lifelong enemy in ACP Younus Khan and prosecution lawyer Shefali Gupta.
Udayveer Shekhawat and his daughter Nandini are back in town, seeking vengeance. Aarya is responsible for the death of his son and the heir to the cartel, and Udayveer and Nandini wanted to financially drain and eventually kill her and Sangram. Aarya aims to get hold of some cash to create fake passports and IDs and leave the country as soon as possible. She plans to sell the pharmaceutical company. Aarya, just like before, wanted to stay away from the life of crime, but circumstances suck her into this murky world, and she ends up losing Sangram on the day his child was born.
From this point on, Aarya fights for her survival and realizes that she is done running away because she knew her past and associations with drug cartels will catch up to her, and she will just end up losing another family member to this fight. She cannot afford to lose her children to the mafia, even though there were times they were facing a risk of being killed.
ACP Younus Khan ends up taking desperate steps to put Aarya behind bars. It is his way to get back at her for not testifying against her brother. Younus eventually realizes he was fighting a losing war and might end up losing the love of his life in his relentless pursuit to arrest Aarya.
The second season ended with the truth regarding Sangram’s killer, which shook Aarya’s life to the core. Her father, Zorawar Rathore, played God again and chose to eliminate Sangram, who wanted his sister dead. He believes it is his penance for the role he played in Tej’s death. Zorawar Rathore is dying of cancer, and he managed to alienate his only surviving child, but not before his estranged wife revealed another disturbing truth about their oldest daughter’s parentage.
Rathore’s family’s accountant, Kedia, gets kidnapped by Shekhawat in their last bid to get hold of their financial holdings. In retaliation, in the penultimate episode of the second season, Aarya and Maya kidnap Shekhawat’s daughter to make sure Kedia returns to them. To Aarya’s horror, Maya accidentally killed Nandini, and they had nothing to offer for Kedia’s safe return. Kedia is returned under the pretense that Nandini was alive.
Shekhawat’s main henchman, Sampat, figured Aarya’s hostage was dead, but he chose to join Aarya’s team after she learned of his role in saving Aru from a drug overdose situation. Shekhawat planned to leave the country again, but not before he was confronted by Araya. She accidentally killed him right after she learned Udayveer is her biological father. This completely changes the dynamics of her role as the new mafia queen in town. With her rivals out of the picture, there is nothing that could stop Aarya from being a new don who is in no mood to leave the country. The season two ending also teased the arrival of Nandini’s husband, Sooraj, who will seek revenge for Aarya’s role in his wife death. I hope the next season will be as exciting and tense as the previous two. It will be interesting to watch the path Sooraj chooses to attack Aarya.
The first two seasons of the show bravely spoke about dysfunctional family dynamics, the class and caste divide, the privileged and their powers, teenage infatuation, drug abuse, childhood trauma, mental health issues in teens, alcoholism, love, betrayal, and friendship. Aarya is about a woman finding a foothold for herself when everything else is falling apart. She stands up for her immediate family and rebuilds her life from scratch. Aarya can choose to rise above pettiness and fight for her survival. Aarya embraced power and slowly became indestructible.