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Aashram Chapter 2 review: New season repeats old mistakes

Release Date: 11 Nov 2020

Cinestaan Rating

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Suyog Zore

The series tests your patience midway when the story begins to move at a glacial pace and repetitiveness sets in.

The first season of MX Player's ambitious show Aashram ended in August on a cliffhanger, leaving many questions unanswered. Three months later, season two picks up from where we’d left off. Baba Nirala (Bobby Deol) now has become more sinister as he doesn't need to pretend that he is a good guy except in front of his gullible devotees which include Pammi (Aditi Pohankar). His predatory behaviour towards unsuspecting female disciples gets so out of hand that his right-hand man Bhopa (Chandan Roy Sanyal) has to advise him to rein in his lecherous behaviour.

We also see the influence of godman, who was seen making inroads into politics in the previous season, growing to such an extent that his backing is crucial to those who wish to come to power.

The incumbent chief minister Sunder Lal (Anil Rastogi) and a young opposition leader Hukum Singh (Sachin Shroff) who is eyeing the chief minister's chair resort to bribery and blackmail to win Baba Nirala's support.

There is also the subplot of inspector Ujagar Singh (Darshan Kumaar) and his subordinate Sadhu (Vikram Kochhar) who go underground to unearth evidence of Baba Nirala's drug racket with the help of forensic expert Dr Natasha (Anupriya Goenka); whereas the journalist Akki (Rajeev Siddhartha), who is gathering proof about the godman's murky business dealings, makes progress of his own.

The two leading ladies Pammi and Babita (Tridha Choudhury) get more screentime in this season. The former, who is still in awe of Baba Nirala is trying to win the national wrestling championship, while the latter has become Baba's favourite. Till the end, Jha never makes Babita's intentions clear behind her willingness to sleep with the ascetic. Is part of a plot, has she simply given up or is she trying to get into his good books? We never completely understand her motives. Choudhury has done a decent job, but frankly, the role didn't demand much from her. 

After the first couple of episodes, the show starts to feel repetitive while some subplots are completely ignored or abandoned altogether.

The second season repeats the same mistakes of the first. The season wastes a lot of valuable time on unnecessary scenes such as slow montages of rapper Tinka Singh's concerts and political rallies, which add nothing to the plot. Bhopa, who was a central figure in the first season, gets sidelined here. There is another interesting subplot regarding Baba Nirala's guru, which is wrapped up in a single episode.

The series tests your patience midway when the story begins to move at a glacial pace. The caste and class angle, which was an important plot point in the first season, is inexplicably dropped. Also, Jha's old school style of filmmaking, evidenced in the melodramatic music and over-the-top emotional scenes, doesn't quite suit the digital medium. The director has also not paid much attention to the performances of extras especially those who appear for only one or two scenes. This is something you don't generally see in Jha's films as he is known for extracting good performances from every actor.

Bobby Deol in Aashram Chapter 2

Deol gets more screentime this time but his Baba Nirala more or less remains the same throughout the season. He plays the calm sage with conviction but it is when he has to show Baba's ugly side, his limitations as an actor become visible. In some scenes, he gives you chills with just his stare but they are far and few between.  

Pohankar's accent, which seemed fake in the first season, slowly grows on you. Her character's confusion as she struggles to come to terms with Baba's real identity is convincing.

Aashram 2 also ends on a cliffhanger, but seeing how the show has failed to meet our expectations so far, you'd be better off keeping them in check when it comes to the follow-up.

MX Player is now streaming Aashram Chapter 2 - The Dark Side.

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