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Stars: Bobby Deol, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Aditi Sudhir Pohankar
“Main aap sab ko moksha ki raha par le ke jaaonga. Japnaam Japnaam (I will lead you all to the path to salvation),” says Bobby Deol as he stands in front of a sea of devotees in the opening shot of the trailer of Aashram, which marks the foray of director Prakash Jha into the web-series space.
Deol essays the role of a debauch godman, Baba Nirala Kashipur wala, as viewers are taken on a journey of the meteoric rise of this small-time soothsayer into India’s top Godman. In true Prakash Jha style, the web drama is a vivid portrayal of how the Godmen in India operate by taking advantage of the blind faith of devotees to push their own agendas.
“He is not a godman. He is a conman.” These lines from the trailer pretty much summarize the central theme, as we are shown glimpses of the mortal remains of women found in the vicinity of the Godman’s ashram as police officers get on the trail of his dark crimes.
1.A stellar star cast
With junior Deol in the driving seat as Baba Nirala Kashipur wala, Aashram promises power-packed performances by an array of talented actors.
Deol dawns an all-new look and makes a convincing baba, who has more shades of black than grey. “I have been trying to play different shades as an actor and here I was given an offer to play a completely different character, which I never imagined I would be offered,” said Deol at the press conference.
Another noteworthy performance is by Chandan Roy Sanyal, who is equally convincing in his portrayal of baba’s corrupt right hand. After enacting a bold and powerful role in the recently released web-series ‘She’; actor Aaditi Pohankar plays a young, innocent girl, who goes to the Baba Nirala’s Ashram and ends up becoming the main whistle-blower of his evil deeds. Darshan Kumaar plays the role of SI Ujagar Singh with elan while Adhyayan Suman will be seen onscreen after a long gap as Tinka Singh.
2. Prakash Jha’s foray into web series
After directing masterpieces like Satyagraha, Rajneeti and Apharan, national award winning director Jha has come out with this powerful satirical drama series.
“Web series has different latitude. You are able to do justice to every character and every sub-plot, and every dimension can be explored. To be able to engage my audience to the maximum has been a different experience for me,” said Jha at the conference.
Jha’s last tryst with an episodic series was the iconic TV serial Mungerilal Ke Haseen Sapne on Doordarshan, which he had directed way back in the late 1980s.
There is a lot of mystery, thrill and emotion attached to this series. Aashram is the story of a small-time conman, who masquerades as a baba and how people bestow faith in them. This gives these conmen the right to exploit us.
Habib Faizal wrote the story with a lot of heart to give it a lot of colour. The narrative is tight and dialogues apt, keeping the viewer completely engaged. The twists and turns in the plot ensure that there is never a dull moment. Each episode ends at a cliff-hanger and we can’t wait to see how the story is going to unfold. Aaditi Pohankar’s character is the real surprise – an innocent girl who changes the flow of events after turning into a powerful whistle-blower.
4.The dark world of faith
Director Prakash Jha is known for his portrayal of nagging social issues that seldom find their way into the mainstream. The dark world of babas, who turn into celebrities overnight with their fan following of devotees is one such issue close to our hearts. “I don’t make films on issues. I am only interested in telling new stories through which the issues get communicated,” Jha said.
There are many conmen like Baba Nirala Kashipur wala, who flourish in our country and take advantage of the blind faith people have in them. “We wanted to mirror the realism that exists in our society when people rest their faith in criminals in the garb of self-proclaimed godmen. To bring alive this vision for the series, we have the maestro himself, a director par excellence Prakash Jha to give it the vision that it really needed,” said Gautam Talwar, Chief Content Officer for MX Player.
5.You get access to the show for free
The good news is that the nine episodes of Aashram, which form part of its debut on August 28, will stream on MX player which is completely free of any kind of subscriptions. This makes the platform an ideal one for all those who haven’t subscribed to the host of OTT platforms which have come up.
“We are delighted with the way the series has panned out. At MX Player, we have a large audience base of over 200 million active users monthly. We need to make sure that the offering spans multiple genres and multiple narratives. Aashram is one of our boldest steps,” Talwar said.
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