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‘Aashram’ season 3 review: Third season sees return of Baba Nirala and his ups and down

Slowly, empires fall. Who knew history could teach a web series about a debauched cult leader?

Aashram’s third season begins with unresolved issues and new enemies. As busy as previous seasons, MX Player’s 10 long episodes remain in thrall to charlatan godman Baba Nirala and his blind followers.

Whoever Nirala (Bobby Deol) wounded is working hard, especially Pammi (Aaditi Pohankar), whom he raped in season two. Pammi escaped Nirala’s prison-like headquarters with journalist Akki (Rajeev Siddhartha) and is hiding.

Sachin Shroff’s Chief Minister Hukum Singh owes his election to Nirala and Bhope (Chandan Roy Sanyal). Hukum Singh lets others choose his ministers and award him lucrative contracts, but he hopes image consultant Sonia (Esha Gupta) can help him out.

Police officer Ujagar (Darshan Kumaar) hasn’t given up on exposing Nirala. Nirala backstabbed Hukum Singh’s rival Sundar Lal (Anil Rastogi). Nirala’s wife Banno (Tulika Banerjee) claims her piece of Nirala’s pie.

Aashram season 3 review
Aashram season 3 review

Nirala not only survives, she soars. Sonia tells Nirala, “You’re a god.” Later, he says, “I’m god.” Nirala’s confidence is understandable given his vast land holdings and unchecked power.

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As in the previous season, new ideas and characters threaten to take the show in a new direction, but they leave us hanging. Nirala’s life as the lowly criminal Monty could have revealed how cults form. Women exploited by Nirala wait in the background for their lines.

Initial examination of how unscrupulous godmen mesmerise their flock has given way to crime show rhythms. Nearly everyone is on the take, which creates momentum but makes the story circular.

Nirala’s strange obsession with Pammi is an imaginative new idea. If Nirala is slipping into delusion, we may find out in season five.

The third edition’s assembly-line quality is evident from the credit “Story, screenplay, and dialogues by PJP [Prakash Jha Productions] team.” Jha’s convincing building of Nirala’s kitschy-heavy world, 2020’s solidly written characters, and the actors’ commitment save the show.

Aaditi Pohankar’s Pammi and Darshan Kumaar’s Ujagar glower and wait. As Nirala’s ruthless enforcer, Chandan Roy Sanyal is the show’s best actor. Roy Sanyal plays Bhope with gleeful menace and deceptive charisma.

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