Aranyak Web Series Review: In this thrilling story of Jungle, Jaan and Junoon, know how fragrant ‘Kasturi’ is, read full review

Manoj Vashisht, New Delhi. The crime-thriller web series Aranyak was released on Netflix on 10 December. Glamorous actor Raveena Tandon, who is known for being a mast-mast girl in Hindi films, has forayed into the world of OTT content with the series. Raveena herself is a big reason for increasing the hype of this series. However, Aranyak portrays Raveena as more of a ‘motherly’. OTT platforms are full of crime genre series. In such a situation, Aranyak does not offer anything different and new, but does not disappoint on the entertainment front either.

Kasturi Dogra police station is in charge in Sirona, a remote town of Himachal. Daughter Nutan, studying in class XII, is taking a year-long leave to prepare for the IIT entrance exam. Angad Malik comes to take charge of him. As soon as Angad takes charge, a horrific incident takes place in the normally quiet town. French tourist Julie’s teenage daughter Amy is found hanging from a noose on a tree in the woods. The people of the town associate it with the legend of Nartendua.

They believe that a half-male and half-leopard-like creature goes out on the hunt of girls on a full moon night. He believes that he also killed Amy. Angad, who conducts the police investigation on facts and scientific basis, does not accept it. Kasturi, who has been waiting for a big case throughout her career, forgets her leave and joins this case. Initially, Angad does not like his intervention, but he is unable to ignore Kasturi’s inputs.

Gradually, the conflict between the two ends and they investigate the case together. The biggest advocate of Nartendua’s angle in this investigation is Kasturi’s father-in-law Mahadev, who himself had retired as head constable at Sinora Thana. The reason for this is 19 years ago when the last time the male leopard killed many girls in Sinora, Mahadev goes to the forest in search of her, where the male leopard injured her with his claws and fled. Since then Mahadev is also in search of him and now he has got another chance to eliminate Nartendua.

As the police investigation progresses, many more mysteries are uncovered and high profile names start adding to the case. For Amy’s murder, Kanti, the son of Jagdamba, a minister in the state government, and Gagan, the son of DC, come under the scanner. Jagdamba’s rival politician Minhas, who is also a descendant of the royal family there, sees Kanti’s name appearing in the case as an opportunity to serve his political and business interests. The owner of the restaurant and gift shop also comes under the scanner. Things get complicated when Nutan’s lover and local guide Bunty comes to the police station and confesses to the crime of raping and killing Amy, which the police themselves do not believe.

The story of Aranyak consists of many sub-plots. The story moves towards its destination through various tracks like political rivalry, drug trade on the hills with the support of politicians, local beliefs, lax functioning of the police department in small towns, police and administrative officers playing at the hands of politicians. Kasturi’s equations with her husband Hari Dogra, who runs a cyber cafe, Hari lost to father’s expectations, boyhood love, mishaps in Angad’s personal life and his enmity with drug tycoon Omi Chawla are the main parts of the sub-plots. But, the good thing is that all these plots together support the main story and do not let it derail.

The thriller has been created by making Aranyak’s script curved like hilly roads. In the last episodes, the turns and twists of the series start giving a feel of Pulp Fiction. Despite a tremendous twist, Aranyak’s climax seems weak. A thrilled audience at this stage expects more than this, but the last episode ends in a jiffy and the second season seems to be in a hurry to kick off.

The entire season is spread over eight episodes of approximately 45 minutes. The initial four episodes move at a slow pace, but the fifth episode brings real color and twists one after the other, making the season interesting. The initial episodes keep the viewer entangled in the expectation of a creature series through the theory of the leopard, but with every twist, the theory of the leopard begins to weaken and the series starts running on the track of a suspense thriller.

If you have been fond of thriller films, then you can also guess the next developments. However, by then the series has reached such a stage, which does not reduce the craving to watch further episodes. In her first innings, Raveena Tandon, the glamorous heroine of Hindi cinema’s masala films, has entered the world of OTT content with Aranyak and has changed the approach to characters.

Raveena’s real age is fully supported in making the character of the SHO of a small hill town look impressive. Barring a few redundancies in capturing the local accent, Raveena has managed to present different facets of the Kasturi Dogra character. Bengali artist Parambrata Chatterjee as SHO and Investigating Officer Angad Malik has looked surprisingly strong.

This is his most powerful character in the work Parambrata has done so far in Hindi cinema and suits his position in Bengali cinema. Ashutosh Rana has been able to present the mysterious layer that was needed for the character of retired head constable Mahadev.

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