The ambience is like Candy, the crime series on a campus near the jungle that was on Voot a few months ago.
In Candy, the dead body of a teenager was found hanging from a tree. Locals whispered about a mystery monster named Masaand who haunted, hunted and killed in the jungle. The mist-laden hill town abounded with suspicious politicians, teaching staff and sundry others. A professor in grief over his dead daughter had landed on the campus and become an active part of the investigation. A female cop with guilt pangs over the daughter back home was one of the pivotal characters.
To create Aranyak, director Vinay Waikul shifts the same feel of mist and mystery to fictious hill station Sironah where SHO Kasturi Dogra (Raveena Tandon) is the guilt-ridden mother about to hang up her uniform. But when teenager Aimee is raped, murdered and hanged from a tree in the jungle, it’s the biggest case of her career. There’s a legendary leopard-man rumoured to dwell and prowl amongst the eerie, tall trees. Angad Malik (Parambrata Chattopadhyay), the new SHO in Sironah, is grieving over the little son he lost years ago to the leopard man. Politicians Manhas (Zakir Hussain) and Jagdamba (Meghna Malik), a District Collector, a senior policeman and a café owner have all got kids and secrets that must be unravelled.
Note the similarities?
But while Candy was crude, replete with filthy abuse, twisted perverts and explicit in its intimate scenes, there’s a sophistication in the unfolding of the murder-mystery around Aimee’s death. Her rape and murder are handled delicately, you don’t cringe at the visuals nor are there rough and rowdy dialogues. You end up wanting to binge-watch to know who’s hiding what secret and who’s the guilty party.
Well-written by Charudutt Acharya, there’s a bit of freshness too, especially in the presentation of Kasturi Dogra (Raveena Tandon) who has domestic issues of her own. She’s more at home in her khaki uniform than in the kitchen making rajma. In fact, the show starts off with Kasturi trying to make a meal and it’s soon evident that this isn’t a routine she’s used to.
Whether a politician, a policewoman or a drug-addict French, they’re all mothers. But the point is not hammered home, it comes through in the various scenes and episodes. There’s also a niceness about Kasturi’s equation with retired head constable Mahadev Dogra, her father-in-law.
Between Kasturi and Angad, the initial friction and frost give way to warmth as they join hands to investigate the mysteries of Sironah without compromise while her husband watches on, with secrets of his own.
Inevitably, in Sironah also lies the solution to Angad’s angst over his missing son.
Also Read: Aarya Season 2 Review: Godfather With A Gender Change
Raveena Tandon presents a trim and pretty figure, the roughness of the policewoman who slaps and gets her confessions balanced with softness when the situations warrant it.
Parambrata who provided able support to Vidya Balan in Kahaani years ago, does it again with Raveena. But this time he also has a past that needs closure.
In the drugs, politics, rape and murder mystery, made eerie with the jungle around Sironah, there’s a watchable show.
If one must nitpick, it’s a shame that while khaki-wearing Kasturi Dogra is a welcome departure from the stay-at-home woman, Waikul still thinks it’s only the mother or daughter who should be in the kitchen. A husband, a son and a father-in-law don’t even lift a finger. Whether the daughter has an IIT entrance exam or Kasturi is on the crime beat, it’s their duty to serve parathas hot off the tava. Move on, guys.
Watch Aranyak Trailer: