The rise of OTT platforms is providing the perfect opportunity to the lead actors and actresses from the ‘90s to make their much-awaited comebacks. While the Disney+ Hotstar series ‘Aarya’ marked the beginning of Sushmita Sen’s second innings as a performer, the MX Player series ‘Aashram’ legitimized Bobby Deol’s efforts to make a strong comeback to the world of acting.
Sanjay Kapoor also has been trying to establish himself as a character actor as part of his second innings and the Amazon Prime series ‘The Last Hour’ has helped him achieve it to some extent. Of course, there are many more examples of actors from the ‘90s and the 2000s trying to use the web as a means to resuscitate their careers. The most recent name that comes to mind is that of Raveena Tandon who has made her web debut with the Netflix series ‘Aranyak,’ which also stars Ashutosh Rana, another actor who made it big in the ‘90s, in a pivotal role alongside Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Zakir Hussain, Indraneil Sengupta, and Meghna Malik.
‘Aranyak’ is produced by Siddharth Roy Kapur and Ramesh Sippy with Rohan Sippy serving as the showrunner. The series follows Kasturi Dogra (Raveena Tandon), a harried local cop, who must learn to co-exist with her urbane replacement, Angad Malik (Parambrata Chattopadhyay) after a French teenage tourist disappears in a misty hill town of Sirohna. What ensues is a high stake game of deceit as the two mismatched hill station cops navigate a web of suspects on the big-ticket case that digs up skeletons and revives a nigh forgotten myth of a bloodthirsty, serial killing entity in the forest—the Leopard-Man, which is said to be responsible for a series of gruesome deaths in Sirohna 19 years back. But, ‘Aranyak’ is not a typical horror story in the vein of werewolf dramas that Hollywood is known for. With the ominous presence of the mythical entity lurking over the hill town, the series doesn’t back down from plunging into the political ploys employed in the power circles, drug and social media culture amongst the millennials, personal agendas amongst the grownups while taking a good old procedural approach to solving a puzzling murder mystery.
The Bengali word ‘Aranyak’ basically means “forest-grown” or “pertaining to forest”. And, aptly, the theme of the series as well as its setting is such that the idea of the woods is never lost or forgotten.
A character in the series that is dying from cancer talks about a magical mushroom found deep inside the forest that has the healing power to cure every malady. He recounts to his son how his father had succeeded in curing himself thanks to the healing powers of the mushroom he had discovered in the woods. But it had turned to be a bittersweet affair for this father who lost his voice in the forest. He attributes it to an encounter with the Leopard-Man during which his father barely escaped through but the fear nonetheless made him lose his voice. ‘Aranyak’ is a reminder of how easily the minds of the populace in the small towns can get occupied with superstitions and false beliefs. It’s not a case of illiteracy, for even those who are educated can fall for it at the drop of a hat.
‘Aranyak’ is well shot and edited with consistent acting performances on offer which means that it’s superior to a series like ‘Candy’. Having seen Raveena Tandon’s essay ultra-urbane characters throughout her career, it takes some time to accept her in the role of a small town cop. Also, her accent doesn’t sound very natural at first. In comparison, Parambrata Chattopadhyay’s Angad Malik is a far more believable character. But the chemistry between Tandon and Chattopadhyay is very strong from the word go. It might remind some of the chemistry that Chattopadhyay shared with Vidya Balan in ‘Kahaani’.
Chattopadhyay is an earnest actor who seldom disappoints but his performance in ‘Aranyak’ is truly exceptional. And once we get used to Tandon’s accent and delivery even she starts looking pretty believable in her role. But the best performance comes from Ashutosh Rana, and expectedly so. He plays a retired head constable named Mahadev Dogra, Kasturi’s father-in-law, who is still held in high esteem by everyone in the police department.
Although he seems to be losing his wits, he perhaps is the only one capable of solving the mystery of Leopard-Man. Zakir Hussain is also brilliant in the role of a powerful local politician who wants his daughter to be happy at all costs. The show’s surprise package is Indraneil Sengupta whose enigmatic character holds the key to an important secret about the French girl who mysteriously disappears at the start of the series.
‘Aranyak’ is not a typical whodunit that unfolds at a breakneck pace. On the contrary, it is a slow burner that’s deliberately paced. And so it does demand patient viewing.
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APPLAUSE ENTERTAINMENT BEGINS 2022 WITH A HAT-TRICK OF SHOW RELEASES IN JANUARY
Applause Entertainment has kick-started 2022 on a high note, with two back-to-back show releases. The Sameer Nair-headed content studio of the Aditya Birla Group started the year with a bang with ‘Kaun Banegi Shikharwati’ streaming on Zee5 and ‘Humble Politiciann Nograj’ streaming on Voot Select.
Now, Applause Entertainment is all set to score a hat-trick with Mohit Raina-fronted ‘Bhaukaal Season 2’, streaming on MX Player.
Interestingly, Bhaukaal Season 2 is Applause Entertainment’s 30th release since its inception, it is 10th offering on MX Player and also its seventh show to boast of a second season. The first season of ‘Bhaukaal’, which was released in early 2020, became a huge hit for its hard-hitting storyline based on a real-life super cop, Navniet Sekera. The second season of the show revolves around how this police officer in Muzaffarnagar, UP, busts the Dedha gang and brings law, order and peace to the region.
What makes this feat even more commendable is that Team Applause is constantly exploring different genres with every show. ‘Kaun Banegi Shikharwati’ produced in association with Emmay Entertainment, streaming on Zee5, is a story of a royal dysfunctional family featuring an ensemble of fantastic actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Lara Dutta, Soha Ali Khan, Kritika Karma, Anya Singh and Raghubir Yadav. The political satire, ‘Humble Politiciann Nograj’ produced in association with Firstaction Studios and Danish Sait, streaming on Voot Select, takes ahead the 2018 film with a new story running into 10 episodes. ‘Bhaukaal Season 2’ produced by Applause Entertainment in association with Baweja Studios Production has been eagerly awaited by the audience ever since it was announced post the release of its first outing.
DEEPIKA, ANANYA & SIDDHANT STARRER ‘GEHRAIYAAN’ TRAILER OUT NOW
MUMBAI: Directed by Shakun Batra, Amazon Original Movie ‘Gehraiyaan’ stars Deepika Padukone, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Ananya Panday, Dhairya Karwa as leads along with Naseeruddin Shah and Rajat Kapur in pivotal roles.
Gehraiyaan will have its World Premiere on Amazon Prime Video across more than 240 countries and territories on 11 February 2022. Directed by the very talented Shakun Batra, Gehraiyaan is a relationship drama that looks beneath the surface of complex modern relationships, adulting, letting go and taking control of ones’ life path.
Speaking about the film, Deepika Padukone said, “Alisha, my character in Gehraiyaan is extremely close to my heart and certainly one of the most challenging characters I have portrayed on screen. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to play a role that was fun and challenging at the same time.”
Ananya Panday said, “Shooting with the wonderful cast and crew of Gehraiyaan has been an absolute high point for me and I never wanted the shoot to end! There’s a certain realness to the story of Gehraiyaan; while the film dives into the complexity of relationships it also talks about the thrill of being in love, of discovering oneself and charting ones’ path.”
ALIA BHATT CLOTHES THE NEEDY
NEW DELHI: Pretty Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt, who will soon be seen in S Rajamouli’s magnum opus ‘RRR’, is now giving back to the community through a new initiative. She launched Ed-a-Mamma, a conscious clothing brand for kids, a while back and has now kicked off a ‘Buy1Give1’ initiative, which will provide basic clothing for underprivileged children. For this initiative, every purchase made on their website will be matched with a garment donated by Ed-a-Mamma for a child in need. Ed-a-Mamma has partnered with Goonj – a renowned NGO working across India that focuses on clothing as a basic, yet unaddressed need. Alia Bhatt said, “With Ed-a-Mamma, I set out to create a world that nurtures in children, a love of nature. Knowing full well that they will look after what they love. The Buy1Get1 initiative will be used to gift garments to children in need and we hope to make kids understand the joy of sharing with people who are less fortunate.”So while the actress’ career is flying high and she is busy with numerous films, Alia has not forgotten those in need.
SIDDHANT BRINGS A LUXURIOUS HARLEY DAVIDSON HOME
MUMBAI: Actor Siddhant Chaturvedi recently brought home a luxurious Harley Davidson Sportster S, making him the first person in India to have the bike.
The ‘Gehraiyaan’ actor took to his social media to share the news of the same with his fans and followers. The actor, who rose to fame with MC Sher from Gully Boy, has certainly come a long way in the matter of just 3 years, which is a rather remarkable feat.
On the work front, Siddhant is currently gearing up for Shakun Batra’s next ‘Gehraiyaan’. He also has ‘Phone Booth’, ‘Yudhra’ and ‘Kho Gaye Hum Kahan’ in the pipeline.
SONAL CHAUHAN TO PLAY LEAD IN AKKINENI NAGARJUNA’S THE GHOST
MUMBAI: Akkineni Nagarjuna’s ‘The Ghost’ is a much-anticipated film ever since its announcement. Earlier it was said that the Bollywood star, Jacqueline Fernandez was cast for the film however, the word on the block is that the talented Sonal Chauhan will be playing the lead opposite Nagarjuna instead of Jacqueline.
That’s right, Sonal Chauhan fans are in for a treat as they get to see their favourite actress on the silver screen. A source close to the film said “Makers felt Sonal Chauhan was the best fit for the lead role opposite Nagarjuna in ‘The Ghost’. They felt both the actors Sonal and Nagarjuna would make for a fine on-screen pair and that’s when they approached her. The two are definitely going to portray some great chemistry in the film.”
SALMAN TO FEATURE IN GURU RANDHAWA’S NEW SONG
MUMBAI: Superstar Salman Khan will be seen flaunting his acting skills in singer Guru Randhawa’s new song ‘Main Chala’.
Female vocals of the track have been lent by Lulia Vantur, and the female artist who will be featuring alongside Salman is Pragya Jaiswal. On Tuesday, Guru Randhawa took to Instagram and shared the update with his fans.
“Love will be in air with #MainChala! Song releasing on 22nd January. Stay Tuned,” he wrote.
He tagged Salman Khan and Pragya in the comments. Produced by Salma Khan, the romantic track will be out on January 22.
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