The next weekend biggie is here! And I have just finished watching the new series Aranyak on Netflix. From the time I watched its trailer, I couldn’t help but think that Aranyak had an eerie similarity to the recently released webseries Candy. Although, it still seemed like a puzzling murder mystery, the fact that both webseries were set in the hills and were murder mysteries, made me a touch skeptical. With the series out now, the haze becomes a lot more clear. Is Aranyak worth your time, stay tuned to find out.
Story & Screenplay
Aranyak follows the story of a puzzling murder which takes place in the hills. Is there a serial killer on the loose or is it all a part of a folklore? First things first – the similarity with the series Candy ends here. The good news is that there isn’t much of similarity between the two series beyond the setting and the murder mystery angle. The story is definitely interesting and manages to catch your attention. The screenplay is a bit of a slow burn. It takes a good couple of episodes to set the ball rolling. Here, you are introduced to a whole bunch of characters with parallel storylines. This might be slightly confusing for the audience and some of you may also be put off by the convoluted design of the screenplay. It will take some amount of time for you to warm up to the drama and start figuring out things. But by the third episode you are into the drama. Although things aren’t exactly thrilling but the convoluted plot will definitely fascinate you as you try to piece the puzzle. Here I may add that things get slightly repetitive which could have been avoided but nevertheless the layered storytelling more than makes up for it. On the downside, the folklore angle could have been explored a bit more. Also, there are a tad too many subplots for my liking. Although most of them are tied uo at the end but couldn’t help but think that if the prime focus was solely on the main plot(that of the murder mystery) then it would have been even more thrilling! But the final act is quite shocking and satisfying and makes up for most of the loose ends. Overall, a screenplay which is a slow burn but quite effective.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are good but they could have explored the folklore a little more through the dialogues. The BGM is pulsating and keeps you on your toes. The cinematography is quite exquisite and captures the valley beautifully. The VFX is almost laughable and it sticks out like a sore thumb! Director Vinay Waikul does a good job here. I wouldn’t say that the execution was pitch perfect. It was a little rough around the edges and certain sequences were left to linger on for a little longer but overall the grip in the convoluted drama was definitely there. And that means a good job done as far as the direction is concerned.
The performances are top notch and it is once again the casting director Mukesh Chhabra who is to be credited for unearthing some bundles of talent. Indraneil Sengupta as Ravi has his moments to shine. Meghna Malik as Jagdamba is impressive in a role which was a bit underwritten. Milind Shinde as Nandan is excellent particularly at the backend of the series. Mahesh Shetty as Omi, Tejaswi Dev as Kanti and Pratyaksh Rajbhatt as Gagan all are quite good. Wishvesh Sharkholi as Bunty is first rate. Taneesha Joshi as Nutan is the find of the series for me. Her character(although on a wobbly start) has an interesting conflict and she internalizes her performance pretty well. Breshna Khan as Julie has an amazing screen presence. Anastasiya Hamolka as Aimee is outstanding and does a fine job here. Zakir Hussain as Manhas is his usual best. Ashutosh Rana as Mahadev is brilliant although in an underwritten role again. I am a fan of Parambrata Chattopadhyay and he is absolutely fantastic as Angad. And it was a pleasure watching one of my childhood crushes again onscreen – Raveena Tandon. As Kasturi, she makes an impressive comeback and here is hoping we get to see her more in the OTT space.
Despite its flaws, Aranyak is a chilling murder mystery that will definitely keep you engaged. Available on Netflix.