Aarya seasons one and two have been a glorious addition to the crime thriller genre. Ram Madhvani and his team of directors and writers have done some stellar work to make the show intense for two consecutive seasons. This puts a lot of burden on the third season to be equally good, if not better. The third season was released on November 3rd, 2023, on Disney+ Hotstar, and it is an extension of Aarya’s saga as she decided to venture into the family business instead of running away from it.
The third season of this crime saga began where it left off. Aarya has taken control of the family business of trafficking narcotic drugs, and she has maintained a steady business relationship with the Russians. She plans to expand her business by venturing into the supplier market. Aarya believes lower level dealings could bring her a lot more profits. Anton, the associate of the Russian mafia, assigns her a consignment worth 1000 crores, and if she is successful at completing the task, she could be the frontrunner to become the biggest supplier of their product.
Aarya is keen on finishing the job without any hassle, but her biggest obstacle is not ACP Younus Khan but Nandini’s husband Sooraj, who is hell-bent on getting his revenge. The man is aware of Aarya’s role in his wife’s disappearance and wants to destroy her life. As Sooraj plans to sabotage the Russian consignment assigned to her, many new characters are introduced as competitors to Aarya. Nalini, another drug cartel chief, is the leading supplier of narcotics for the Russians, and she is not happy to see Aarya showing interest in her field of expertise. The women meet, and plenty of issues regarding their businesses are put forth to discuss. Will Aarya and Nalini fight for the top spot or become allies? What will Sooraj do to make sure Aarya pays for her crimes? Is Aarya expecting tragedy to befall her family? These questions, along with many others, are spelled out for the viewers.
The makers have not let go of placing old Hindi songs throughout the narrative. It essentially explains the emotions attached to several scenes across the show without the writers having to churn out any dialogue. Old Hindi songs have been a part of Hindi pop culture for decades, and using them is an excellent choice of direction. There is no end to the people who want Aarya dead, and that forms the central narrative of part one of season three. Sooraj’s entry into the picture was made clear by the end of the last season, and his going after Aarya all guns blazing right from the start provides a strong and dark kick-off. The makers don’t waste any time building up the new characters and getting them going, which is again a sign of good direction. Spoon feeding is not the tool they have used here because the makers have a story to tell. The writing and the pacing of the narrative throughout the four episodes are swift. The makers do not waste any time meandering into subplots that do not play an important role in the bigger picture. There are new subplots, but all of them are tightly blended to make the screenplay compact.
It is interesting to watch the royals of Rajasthan become cruel gangsters and cartel chiefs. This allows them to retain their power over the loyal subjects, it’s just a monarchy with a new face. It mirrors the life led by the Russian oligarchs after the fall of the USSR. Coincidentally, the Russian mafia played a big role in sustaining the powers of cartels in the state from the first season. There is a subplot regarding Aarya and her son Veer rubbing each other the wrong way as a parent and child, which starts creating a rift between the two. This was an unexpected twist in the tale, but the subplot is handled with sensitivity without adding any unnecessary drama to it. Aarya is known for putting forward stories sans over-the-top theatrics. The same technique is used in this season to make the show engaging. The four episodes are unputdownable because the screenplay has been executed meticulously without confusing the audience. The subplot regarding Nalini is fused superbly into the main plot, and it creates intrigue about her character and her role in Aarya’s business.
All the characters, new and old, have been given deep layers to work with. It does not allow the audience to take sides. Everyone has reasons to follow the path they choose and find results that suit their narrative. Just like in the first two seasons, there are no black or white characters because human beings are not made that way. At core, people make a decision that serves them well. This idea is explored with fine complexity.
Dysfunctional family dynamics is the running theme of the show. But certain plot holes cannot be ignored. Veer is indirectly involved in the business, while Aru and Adi are aware of what their mother does for a living. The show forgets to discuss if Aarya’s older kids are receiving any formal education. The showmakers have discussed Adi’s school days, but the writers have forgotten to make the former narrative a part of the show to pave the way for other convenient plot lines. There was a scene that involved a shootout at a funeral, but there was no police complaint filed. Nevertheless, ACP Khan took it upon himself to investigate the incident without any formal charges being registered. The writers and director seem to have skipped working on the detailing of this subplot. Since this is a crime thriller, deaths do come as a shock, and the most unexpected ones leave a lasting impression in this season as well.
Another issue with Aarya would be the over-glorification of motherhood. A multitasker, Aarya jumps from one job to another seamlessly without the show emphasizing how it could affect her mentally and physically as a human being. The writing stresses that Aarya, as a woman, will go to any extent to protect everyone she loves. This is putting a woman on a pedestal instead of treating her as a normal person pushed into becoming a merciless cartel leader because of the circumstances. The narrative in the first two seasons was about underestimating her as a woman and a mother. In part one of the third season, the writing of the central character was intended to make the woman look invincible. There needed to be room for Aarya to make mistakes. The narrative of ideation of motherhood should have been worked on. The audience can only hope this issue is tackled in the next part of the show.
Direction by Ram Madhvani, Kapil Sharma, and Shradha Pasi Jairath is impeccable, and just like the first two seasons, it is seamless. At this juncture, the audience knows all the characters. The direction and the cinematography by Kavya Sharma paint a complicated picture of a family that is still recovering from the trauma of losing one too many family members. The cinematography and the direction make the relationship dynamics seem real, making the entire setup compelling and relatable. The music and background score by Vishal Khurana adds another layer to the storytelling. There is a sense of fear building up, and this feeling is articulated well by Vishal Khurana’s music. The score beautifully blends classical and contemporary music, allowing the audiences to be enthralled by what they hear as the drama unfolds on the screen. Editing by Abhimanyu Chaudhary and Khushboo Raj is the reason why the first part of season three is engaging till the last minute. Costumes by Theia Tekchandaney stand out, and they become a part of each character and their personality.
Just like before, the casting of this season is exquisite and has the likes of Indraneil Sengupta and Ila Arun joining the team as Aarya’s nemeses. Both have done a commendable job of creating an aura about themselves and the work they do to survive. Indraneil Sengupta, as Sooraj, is a complex man who had to choose the path of violence to avenge his wife’s killing. The switch in his character is justified and performed with ease by the actor. Ila Arun, as Nalini, has a smaller screen time but manages to create a presence about herself and how she could be a problem for Aarya in the story going forward.
The makers have recast the actor who portrays Aru. Aarushi Bajaj as Arundhati Sareen are required to be understanding of the fact that she comes from a privileged background as she wants to become a poet. Sushmita Sen, as usual, is excellent in a role that was tailor-made for her. She can convey so many emotions as a person who has multiple metaphorical tabs open in her head, like a Google Chrome browser. The only difference is that the woman has not crashed yet. The second part of season three might take her through that phase, as she is currently facing many problems on the business and personal front. Sushmita is a force to be reckoned with in Aarya. Vikas Kumar, as ACP Khan, comes back as the adamant and honest police officer who wants to put an end to Aarya and her cartel. He has failed multiple times but rises from the ashes like a phoenix. His performance is layered, and Vikas Kumar has done justice to his character.
Aarya season three, part one, ends on a tragic note as most of the lead characters are agitated and helpless. It sets the tone for part two. Season Three so far is a gripping watch, just like the previous installments.