Fiery and primitive tribals, unscrupulous tycoons, a doctor caught in the wrong place, a dedicated cop, a fixer who is himself in a fix, uranium deposits, a magic leaf that cures cancer, deep forests housing the innocent tribes, exotic locales in the European Union (Aberbaijan, Georgia), international archery tournaments: all these form integral parts of Disney+Hotstar’s latest series, Aar Ya Paar, which could have been a riveting if also not an insightful ride…but is not!
The team behind Apharan (the first season was ‘Wow!’ and the second, ‘Oww!’) strike a midway note with this series about how innocent tribals can be ruthlessly exploited, and even destroyed, only for lucre. Rich but dying businessman Reuben Bhatta (Ashish Vidyarthi) has absolutely no qualms about doing such things, backed by some private goons, even if the tribal head (an actor whose name I cannot place) has presented him some leaves to cure his malignancy without even being told by him about it! Was he a seer to know that? That is Absurdity No. 1.
The motive for Reuben wanting the forest emptied is uranium, discovered accidentally in a small rock that comes into his possession. He thus goes the whole hog, poisoning the river that gives the tribes nourishment, ordering fire on them and making it look as if they massacred the doctors at their medical camp. Absurdity No. 2: How can tribals shoot them when they have no guns?
The headman’s son, Sarju (Aditya Rawal) is a fierce hothead who cares strongly for his folks, has some stubborn views on many things and is an ace archer. He thus comes to the notice of the harangued fixer, Pullappa (Dibyendu Bhattacharya) who takes murder contracts for a don (Aasif Sheikh), who appears in bits and start and stays somewhere on this planet. His motto is get the fixer to do his work or be ready to die along with his family. And all his victims are based in the area around the forest: Absurdity No. 3.
When the don wants to kill Reuben, who has moved to Georgia (!!) for treatment, Pullappa pulls up a (sorry for the puerile pun!) raw Sarju into sports and trains him as a world-class archer so that he will reach the world finals in Aberbaijan and then move to Georgia do the job. Sarju anyway wants to eliminate Reuben, who has killed his father and many more from his tribe. But he will have to use a bow that is not like his primitive model. And he learns it in hours. Absurdity No. 4!
Playing a supportive role to Pullappa and Sarju is Dr. Sanghamitra (Patralekhaa), while the dedicated cop (Sumeet Vyas) is also in a dilemma as he realizes that Sarju and the tribe are not “Naxalities” as alleged by Bhatta and his corrupt camp but victims of the system.
After an excitingly shot culmination, the post-climax ruins everything—no, I am not giving spoilers, but the end even makes the absurdities stand out as not so silly in comparison! If this is a portent of Season 2, I have nothing to say except to hope for the best from the team and to us, the audience!
Dibyendu Bhattacharya is the effortless scene-stealer in this series with his nuanced portrayal of Pullappa. Aditya Rawal is good, excellent in parts and clumsy or awkward in others as the protagonist. Ashish Vidyarthi is seen as the amoral villain after a while and is good enough. Patralekhaa is alright, and so is Summet Vyas, both being cast in sketchy roles.
This is one of those series that aimed for the moon, but crash-landed en route very much within the world’s orbit.
Edgestorm presents Aar Ya Paar Created by: Siddharth Sengupta Directed by: Neel Guha, Glen Barretto & Ankush Mohla Written by: Mohinder Pratap Singh, Anahata Menon, Siddharth Sengupta, Avinash Singh, Vijay Narayan Verma with additional dialogues by Varun Badola Music: Anuj Danait & Shivam Sengupta Starring: Aditya Rawal, Sumeet Vyas, Patralekhaa, Ashish Vidyarthi, Vaarun Bhagat, Satyen Chaturvedi, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Shilpa Shukla, Nakul Roshan Sahdev, Varun Badola & others