Aarya 2 is all about deadlines and soon-to-be dead lives. The Russians, annoyed at being denied the Rs 300-crore drug stash due to them, issue an ultimatum. A corrupt police officer who wants to be paid off is similarly losing her patience.

As for Aarya (Sushmita Sen), the glamorous mother of three forced to become a dealer after the murder of her husband Tej, the hourglass is fast running out of sand. Aarya is pushed to the limits of her endurance in the second season of the Disney+ Hotstar series, which is a remake of the Dutch show Penoza.

Aarya 2 demands that viewers too display the same levels of Herculean patience as its heroine and navigate an obstacle course of throwbacks, twists, revelations and old Hindi film songs.

At the end of the first season, Aarya had taken off with her brood for New Zealand. She had implicated her father Zorawar (Jayant Kripalani) and brother Sangram (Ankur Bhatia) in Tej’s death and handed over a pen drive containing incriminating evidence to narcotics squad officer Khan (Vikas Kumar). A threatening message from the Russians just as she headed out set the stage for a follow-up.

By choosing her family over her conscience, Aarya finds herself back within the same loathed bunch she had sought to punish. The pesky Russians, represented by Anton (Yury), are still lurking about the unnamed Rajasthani city.

Nearly everyone is consumed by revenge. Khan is outraged that a carefully built case has been destroyed by Aarya’s about-face. Shekhawat’s father Uday (Akash Khurana) has returned from Germany to avenge his son’s death because of Aarya. And has Sangram, whose girlfriend Hina (Sugandha Garg) is heavily pregnant, really forgiven Aarya for jailing him?

Sikandar Kher in Aarya 2 (2021). Courtesy Ram Madhvani Films/Endemol Shine India/Disney+ Hotstar.

We don’t hear much about the pen drive, but there’s enough to keep the popcorn tubs coming. Aarya spends much of her time dodging bullets and Uday Shekhawat and placating the Russians. Her daughter Aru (Virti Vaghani) and youngest son Adi (Pratyaksh Panwar) haven’t yet overcome their trauma over their father’s death. Aarya’s odious father Zorawar continues to exercise an inordinate influence on his clan.

If Zorawar’s factotum Daulat Singh (Sikandar Kher) brought out the feudal nature of the Rajasthani setting, that role is played by Uday Shekhawat’s enforcer (Vishwajeet Pradhan) this time round.

Showrunner Ram Madhvani, who served as one of the writers and co-directors in the first season from 2020, returns as the conductor of the crime opera. The new season has new writers – Sanyukta Chawla Shaikh and Anu Singh Choudhary – while Madhvani, Vinod Rawat and Kapil Sharma are the directors.

The emotions are as thick as the incredulity that is spread all around. Aarya 2 works hard at retaining interest levels in the increasingly fraying cross-weave of family, crime and duty.

Right from the moment when Aarya, who is supposedly a prized state witness, goes for a jog despite the obvious threat to her life, the season goes for broke in keeping its amoral heroine super-busy. Sushmita Sen pushes herself far more in the second season, what with Aarya’s hold over her cherished family weakening and far too many wolves at her door.

The performances remain sharp and engaging. The actors perform admirably and keep a straight face as events spiral out of control for Aarya and, frequently, the show’s makers.

To paraphrase the iconic line from David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, always be dealing. Fans of the show will be pleased to know that the second chapter is inexorably and inevitably leading to a third.

Aarya 2 (2021).

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