Web Series Review | Aar Ya Paar' spirals into a regular Bollywood revenge drama
DECCAN CHRONICLE | Ajit Andhare
Sample this: Sarju, a member of a protected tribe from India, kills Bhatta, a notorious business magnate, with an arrow while they are travelling abroad in trains with huge, closed toughened glass windows. This and many more such inexplicable and incomprehensible events form the crux of the ‘Aar Ya Paar’ web series.
The web series primarily deals with what happens when corporate greed is hell-bent on devouring natural resources in a protected region, for personal motives. Earlier, it was brilliantly shown in ‘Avatar’. However, as happens with many a great series, ‘Aar Ya Paar’ sets out with a noble intention but quickly spirals into a regular Bollywood revenge drama. The larger point of exploitation of protected tribes, who they actually are, and natural resources just remains a backdrop.
Sarju (Aditya Rawal) belongs to a tribe that has purposefully quarantined itself from the "other" or "outer" world. However, Bhatta’s (Ashish Vidyarthi) company discovers that the tribals are sitting on a goldmine of uranium. Hence the company ropes in Dr Sanghmitra (Patralekha Paul) who helps them in winning the trust of the tribesmen. Somewhere in the story comes contract killer Pulappa (Dibyendu Bhattacharya) who is eternally in search of sharpshooters and finds Sarju to be apt for the job. Meanwhile, when Bhatta realises that he is not able to mine the uranium, he kills a lot of tribals including Sarju’s father. Now, Pulappa finds Sarju to be easily malleable for his ulterior motives.
The major problem lies with the story by Anhata Menon, Umesh Padalkar, and Sidharth Sengupta. It’s too weak, oversimplistic, and largely conforms to the stereotypical portrayal of tribals. It paints a world that is black and white. Tribals are shown wearing sac-like clothes, speaking a perfectly and easily comprehensible dialect of Hindi, are expert archers, and are pros in their understanding of medicinal flora and fauna to the extent that they can treat cancer which even modern medicines cannot. It’s too superficial and no effort has been done to even scratch this surface. Hence neither the screenplay nor the dialogues can do much to elevate this mundane material. The direction largely conforms to the usual revenge drama wherein the hero wants to avenge his father’s killing at any cost.
Performance-wise Aditya, who is the son of the versatile Paresh Rawal, is mostly perfunctory. He is the lead but his character isn’t well-pencilled. Hence, the actors who play the next two major characters, Ashish Vidyarthi and Dibyendu Bhattacharya, tower over one and all with their villainy. In fact, Dibyendu has fast emerged as a bankable actor when it comes to character roles on OTT. Patralekhaa is convincing and the series ends with ample hints of an interesting backstory for her.
‘Aar Ya Paar’ treats us to sumptuous shots of dense forests and waterfalls. But a robust story is missing. Directed by Glen Barretto, Ankush Mohla, and Neel Guha, the series is playing on Disney+Hotstar.