AASHRAM: CHAPTER 2 - THE DARK SIDE
A couple of months back, Aashram(Chapter 1) had released that was extremely lapped up and appreciated by the audience. Against the backdrop of politics, it narrated the story of a Godman who was hungry for power and basically an evil force veiled as a man of devotion and peace. While the first chapter had ended by the mask of the antagonist just slipping away, chapter 2 was expected to add more structure in revealing the true identity of Baba Nirala. And I say Chapter 2 and not Season 2 for a reason, so stay tuned.
Aashram(Chapter 2) takes off from the same point where chapter 1 had ended. The story is the continuation of what transpires next and what really happens to the main characters. The screenplay which had earlier introduced all the characters now deals with the equations between characters. It is often tough to actually match the drama(if popular) from the first season as the first season usually introduces you to the world and its characters. And the followup season has to take the story forward and this is where a few stories suffer with the prime examples being Sacred Games and Mirzapur both of whose second season received a fair amount of criticism. But the case is a little different here where the story was barely continued and not yet concluded, which brought me to the conclusion, this was originally an 18 episode long season 1 broken into 9 episodes of Chapter 1 and 2. The screenplay doesn’t really shift gears and gets a tad repetitive in the middle until the very end, and instead focuses on the politics behind the curtains. While this was portrayed extremely well and I am honestly a fan of Prakash Jha as a director(which I will get to in a minute), I can’t help but fathom that this could have easily been concluded instead of setting up a revenge drama for season 2. Also, a couple of sequences of one of the main protagonist being drugged and assaulted will make you squirm and is not for the faint hearted. The dialogues are sharp and all in sync with the drama. The music and BGM is again pretty good. Director Prakash Jha is a masterful storyteller and here he is totally in control. Mind you political dramas are his comfort zone.
I was particularly disappointed with the character of Tinka essayed by Adhyayan Suman(who is still good by the way). All he did was sing whereas he had shown glimpses of his potential in the earlier chapter. Even characters like Satti essayed by Tushar Pandey were sidelined and had very little to do. Anupriya Goenka as Dr. Natasha is good in a smaller role than in chapter 1 but expect her character to develop in the next season. Preeti as Sanober, Parinitaa Seth as Sadhvi Mata,Vikram Kochchar as Sadhu and Navdeep Tomar Gujjar as Sunny all are very good. Anuritta Jha as Kavita is excellent in a little more meatier role than in chapter 1. Rajeev Siddhartha as Akki definitely ups his game here and can’t help but think that he will be all the more important in season 2. Darshan Kumar as Ujagar Singh also is good in an underwritten part this time. Sachin Shroff as Hukum Singh is better than the first part. Tridha Choudhary as Babita looks pretty and again impresses with her calm demeanor. She will be crucial to season 2 as well. The standout performers are Aaditi Pohankar as Pammi, Chandan Roy Sanyal as Bhopa and ofcourse the main antagonist Boddy Deol as Baba Nirala. While the character of Pammi shows a lot of spine and guts towards the end of chapter 2, the drama is nicely setup for her in season 2. Chandan Roy Sanyal just sends some shivers down your spine with his unapologetic performance. Bobby Deol is actually refreshing as the antagonist. While a part of his mark was off last time around, this chapter portrays him as just black with very little redemption quality. He might make you furious which means distinction marks to him here!
Aashram(Chapter 2) is a notch below chapter 1 yet an engaging political drama in itself. It is also nicely setup for the ultimate revenge drama in season 2. Available on MX Player!