The Indian series ‘Aranyak’ which began airing on December 10th has emerged as the world leader on Netflix. It ranked first in India and Bangladesh, and is among the top ten in 13 countries, including Bahrain, the UAE, Singapore and New Zealand.
The contemporary series takes place in the fictional town of Sirona surrounded by forests in the Himalayan foothills. The heroes are Kasturi Dogra, a police officer, wife and mother who plans to take a year off in order to devote more time to her family and her marriage, which is on the rocks; her surrogate, Angad Malik, who carries painful baggage from his past; and her father-in-law Mahadev Dogra, a retired member of the Sirona Police.
In keeping with the black Scandinavian tropes of “Aranyak,” a young French tourist disappears in Sirona. The clue to her whereabouts may be a supernatural figure known to the locals as “Tiger Man”. But it could also be rival politicians or some town guys or merchants, all of whom have multiple skeletons in their vaults.
However, the similarities with Scandinavian noir end there. The word “Aranyak” (which translates to English as “jungle”) is deeply rooted in Indian culture and traditions. The series is written by Charudutt Acharya, a graduate of the Institute of Indian Film and Television, who also holds an MA in Feature Film Scriptwriting from Royal Holloway, University of London. Acharya’s writing credits include the Sony TV crime drama series “Crime Patrol” and SonyLIV crime drama series “Project 9191.”
Acharya came up with the idea of creating a series about a policewoman while on vacation in the Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh. The writer and his wife were victims of a petty crime, they went to report it at a strange police station and came across a woman who was a teenage girl’s mother, wife, and a police officer who was running all three jobs simultaneously and effortlessly. Acharya, who had been toying with the idea of a series based on one of the real-life cases he encountered in “Crime Patrol”, combined it with another idea about a story based on the creature and the character of the policeman.
“Despite being a crime thriller and a criminal with a bit of a mythic involvement, I was deeply drawn to the fact that the characters and the world we create must be rooted in our soul,” Acharya said, diverseHe added that much of his writing is based on his personal experiences and what he grew up with.
“If you do it right, it becomes global,” said Acharya, who is represented internationally by the London-based Blake Friedman Literary Agency, and in India through the Participatory Artists Network. “We didn’t make it so subculture specific that someone might not understand it.”
Acharya passed his idea on to Rohan Sippy, for whom he previously wrote “Dom Maru Dum” (2011) and “Nautanki Sala” (2013), an adaptation of the 2003 French comedy “Après Vous”, for which Acharya directed his debut “Sonali Cable” (2014). “That balance between character drama and plot and the thriller element of the criminal plays really nicely like that,” Sippy said. diverse.
Sippy and Acharya developed the idea and took it to prolific producer Siddharth Roy Kapoor who immediately prepped it and a Netflix commission followed.
“What really attracted me to it was that it was very uniquely Indian, and it felt authentic. It felt local, while still rocking to this Nordic space, but it also wasn’t derivative,” said Roy Kapoor. diverse.
“Aranyak” is produced by Roy Kapur Films and Ramesh Sippy Entertainment, with Rohan Sippy serving as the show’s director. Vinay Waikul, whose ALTBalaji series credits include “The Test Case” (2018) and “Mission Over Mars” (2019), are brought live. Raveena Tandon, one of Bollywood’s biggest stars of the 90s and winner of Best Actress at India National Film Awards for “Daman” (2000), was cast as Kasturi Dogra.
“It was Kasturi’s character that attracted me–she is a fierce and ambitious lady,” said Tandon. diverse. “It was my intention to play a woman in military uniform one day because I have great respect for them. The way they juggle their personal and professional lives, the sacrifices they make for their families and their country, all with a smile on their faces.”
Parambrata Chattopadhyay, the star of Bengali (“Abhijaan”) and Bollywood (“Kahaani”) movies, was playing Angad Malik. “It really felt like it was a very exciting and atmospheric movie, as I was going to do a very subtle character,” Chattopadhyay said. diverse.
The plan was to film in Manali and Dalhousie from May 2020, but India was in the midst of the first wave of the pandemic and all development work was forced online.
“There are two or three ways of working, one of which can be a very psychoanalytic approach, which I’ve done with some of the other films, which really helps,” Chattopadhyay says. “But with this, what we did was we just kept reading and reading and reading over and over, and with every single reading, new dimensions and new nuances emerged, and finally we could just fix up those nuances and carve them on ourselves.”
Filming has been postponed until October 2020 and completed before the next wave hits. Sippy recalls strict social distancing measures that excluded socializing after work, while Roy Kapoor says the copious precautions the production has taken mean filming has not been affected by COVID-19 at all. Wycol says he has remained true to the written material that “inspired us to create images of the story.”
“Aranyak” captures the spirit of the small town of India and the danger of the jungle with the majestic Himalayas as a backdrop. It’s a win for Netflix in that within India, where it has lowered subscription rates, and it has attracted a wide spectrum of audience, which is one of its streaming goals.
“In our conversations with Netflix, the idea was to have as many audiences as possible to watch it,” says Roy Kapur. “The intent at every point was to see how far we can expand the audience and not be intimidated in any way by the style of storytelling, or by the way things unfold. So it is one of those unique materials that attracts a so-called class audience as well as a large audience “.
The cast also includes Ashutosh Rana, Zakir Hussain, Indranil Sengupta and Meghna Malik.
“We are relieved and excited to see our members love the complex characters in ‘Aranyak,’” said Tanya Bami, series head of Netflix India. “And there are so many things you will love – a tight plot by Charodt Acharya that Vinay Waikul brought to life with his vision and Raveena, Parambrata, Ashutosh, Megna and Zakir brought the best of the best. What they have to the characters.”
The creative team behind “Aranyak” is staying silent about Season 2.