APHARAN (2018-2022) – Season 1 & Season 2

Arunoday Singh as Rudra
  • Original Air Date: 14/12/2018 -18/03/2022
  • Platform: Alt Balaji, MX Player, Jio Cinema & Voot
  • Cast: Arunoday Singh, Nidhi Singh, Sanaand Verma, Varun Badola, Mahi Gill
  • Creator: Siddharth Sengupta

A perfectly enjoyable series that has solid performances, intriguing drama, and hilarious comic moments

— Ambar Chatterjee

I heard good things about Apharan when it first came out in 2018 but somehow I never managed to watch the series. Probably, one of the reasons for that was because it was on “Alt Balaji”. No matter how well it was received, somehow I never held the content of “Alt Balaji” to the highest levels and drove past most of it. Time moved on and I kept hearing good things about it and then came 2022. The second season of the series was released and it was getting even more positive reviews than the first season. Apharan couldn’t be avoided anymore. I was done watching every other film in theaters that excited me and this gave me enough time to utilize the weekend to complete the two seasons of the series.

Apharan is the story of an honest cop Rudra (Arunoday Singh) who, in his pursuit of saving the life of a kidnapped child, ends up contributing to his death. The minister father of the child ensures that his professional life is destroyed by crucifying him on false charges and condemning him to serve years in prison. His professional annihilation ensures that his personal life is equally destroyed as financial crunch and Rudra’s inability to get a job even after he is out of prison leads to his wife and the one true love of his life, Ranjana (Nidhi Singh) ending up as a keep to the lecherous Satyanarayan Dubey (Sanaand Verma). Unable to keep up with the pathetic state of his life, Rudra is pushed to the brink and decides to take matters into his own hands. A chance opportunity presents itself when the wife of a millionaire hires him to kidnap her daughter in a plot that is unfolding with the daughter’s consent. Rudra decides to go ahead with the plan. What happens next is a rollercoaster ride of adventure, deceit, and swinging fortunes that will entertain you just as much as it will intrigue you.

The second season of the series picks up from where the first season left off. Ranjana gets addicted to drugs because of something that happened in the first season. She soon falls sick and needs a costly treatment to pull through. Rudra is back in the force but still doesn’t have enough money to finance her treatment. At this juncture, the R&AW offers to help him financially in exchange for his services elsewhere. He is forced to take on the offer and is then tasked to travel to Serbia to nab a dreaded terrorist and bring him back to India. Accompanying him on the mission is the most unlikely character who soon becomes an integral part of the mission.

Nidhi Singh as Ranjana

Apharan Season 1 is a maddening run from start to finish that is characterized by the ever-escalating moral dilapidation of the protagonist. The moral decay of Rudra is not only characterized by him going overboard with his temper and dealing with innocent and vulnerable characters but also by the things that he is shown doing to cover up. Many of his actions cannot be categorized as something that a hero would do and many of them make him just as bad as the villains but he is forced to do these nevertheless. He is constantly on the run from the law, from the people that he loves, and also the ones who are actually controlling his life. The frustration that comes with not having control over how your life is unfolding can be seen on Arunoday Singh’s face in every frame of the series. These expressions that he is so successful in bringing to the character, account for a large chunk of the series’ humanity and contribute greatly to the tension and the claustrophobic feel of it. I could literally put myself in the protagonist’s shoes and experience the turmoil and panic that he was going through. This in turn elevated the intrigue and appeal of the series to a whole new level for me.

One has to agree that the biggest plus for the series was the performances by the ensemble cast. Each of the characters quickly grabbed the audience’s attention with their respective parts in the story and it only helps that Siddharth Sengupta ensures that even the minor characters have an impact on the story and are integral to it. While the love and hate relationship between Rudra and Ranjana is wonderfully envisioned and realized, the antagonists are also well written and have enough reasons for doing what they are shown doing. Sanaand Verma as Satyanarayan Dubey leaves a huge impact with his lecherous and yet hilarious act. Dubey will be fodder for memes for months and years to come. I just loved how focused he was on getting back Ranjana where he liked her and how desperately he moves ahead with his agenda and doesn’t even try to camouflage it. He constantly keeps getting thrashed but keeps coming back for his prized possession leading to some hilarious moments.

The action sequences and the other technicalities of the series were as good as you can expect for a series that has the kind of budget that this series had and it left no room for any complaints. Arunoday Singh has the kind of physicality and screen presence that was needed to sell the action sequences of the series and he utilized his physicality to perfection. The fight choreography is kept grounded and physical and that does help the proceedings quite a bit.

Varun Badola in a still

Having said all that, I felt that the second season of the series went a little too haywire and the humanity and claustrophobic nature of the content from the first season couldn’t be replicated. The story does some crazy things with the character and history of Rudra and these things may be too much for some of the viewers to fathom. Atleast it was too much for me to gulp down and that resulted in the second season turning out to be a lot less exciting and affecting than the first season. A legendary Indian actor makes an appearance at the end of the second season. While I absolutely loved his cameo and wanted for it to go on and on, I have to admit that the entire twist involving his character was too far-fetched and the character didn’t earn the kind of reverence that it demanded from the audiences. Thankfully, Siddharth Sengupta and his team have another season to rectify and tweak some of these issues and come up with a better-written and more affecting third season.

Apharan is still one of the better thriller series out there on the Indian OTT. This could be a perfectly enjoyable and hilarious watch if it is viewed with the right kind of expectations and the necessary suspension of disbelief. The performances are solid and the direction is good. I will be waiting for the third season of this series and I would love to know how the story of Rudra and Ranjana culminates.   

Rating: 3 out of 5.
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