Disclaimer: The following post contains spoilers from season 2 of Aarya.
A gripping drama, befitting of the suspense, thrill, and action that Season 1 served, season 2 of Aarya is a must-watch. With powerful performances, unexpected twists, and an engaging storyline, Season 2 hooks your attention from the first scene itself. And by the time the climax arrives, it leaves you wanting more.
Much like Season 1, Sushmita Sen is in fine form, ably supported by a truly brilliant star cast. But for me, the one actor whose performance rivaled Sen's, and at times even surpassed her, was Geetanjali Kulkarni.
Kulkarni joined the cast in the second season as Sushila Shekhar, an investigating officer with the Narcotics Department, and a dirty cop. In a lot of ways, her character profile is similar to that of Aarya. Both have an internal sense of right and wrong, that isn't governed by morals, but rather, by their basic instinct to protect their children.
Kulkarni appears for a handful of scenes, but not only is her character pivotal to changing Aarya's story, but her performance is also an intrinsic element holding the audience's interest. Because she takes over the screen with utmost panache, easily overshadowing her co-stars - most of whom may tower over her physically, but can't hold a candle to her performance.
There is a particular scene that I just can't get out of my head - when Kulkarni, as Shekhar, subtly smiles as a captive Aarya attacks the public prosecutor. It's such a small gesture that one may miss it - as is the character's intent because she does not want people knowing her true loyalties lie with Aarya and not the police force. But the smile also conveys her pride in seeing a mother attack a person who threatens her children.
That scene captures Kulkarni's act - a culmination of subtle, powerful gestures that are impossible to forget. While Sushmita, as Aarya, is akin to a sharp sword slowly and strategically drawing blood, Kulkarni as Sushila is like a Khurki - rugged and blunter, but far more impactful in close quarters.
My limited experience with theatre and regional cinema led me to discover Geetanjali Kulkarni far later - only with Gullak, in 2019. But since then, every time I've seen her on-screen, whether as the griping, desi mom in Gullak, the suspicious but strong wife in Taj Mahal 1989, or the sly, ballsy officer in Aarya, she's left me a little more in awe of her talent.
And I can confidently say, her fandom is bound to grow with each performance.