oppn parties Ashram: Fake Babas And Their Evil Empires

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  • Formed Indian cricket captain Kapil Dev suffers a heart attack, undergoes angioplasty and is now stable
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  • India bans many imported goods in Army canteens
  • India tells Pakistan that any talks with it will not have J&K on the agenda
  • Prime Minister Modi says there will be no reconsideration of abrogation of Article 370 and the Farm Bills
  • Pakistan will remain on FATF grey list till February
  • The US says it is working to ensure that the standoff between India and China does not escalate further
  • Tejasvi Yadav says Lalu will be released on November 9 and Nitish will get his farewell on 10th
  • Mumbai Indians beat Chennai Super Kings by 10 wickets to move to the top of the table
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  • Andhra HC takes cognizance of objectionable posts against judges on social media, orders a CBI inquiry
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  • PM Modi says government spending will boost demand and hasten economic recovery
  • Centre to spend Rs 37000 crore to boost demand, will give loans and advances to Central staff and will spend Rs 25000 crore on infra projects while states will get Rs 12000 crore to spend on capital projects
  • No consensus in the GST Council meeting, states to borrow to meet shortfall, allowed to float bonds
Mehbooba Mufti says "dacoits" have taken away the flag of J&K and adds that she will not unfurl the Indian flag until the right to unfurl the J&K flag is restored
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Ashram: Fake Babas And Their Evil Empires

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2020-09-04 07:55:22

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.

Welcome to the world of fake babas and their immense clout, their sprawling and lavish ashrams and their nefarious activities. Prakash Jha is on familiar territory in Aashram, streaming on MX Player. The opening credits make it clear that the idea is to expose these fake babas and not to malign the true ones. And expose them does Jha do, in his own inimitable style. As is his wont, along with the story of fake babas, Jha has woven several of his pet themes seamlessly in the narrative.

Kashipur wale Baba Nirala, alias Monty, is as crooked as fake babas go, and some more. He runs an empire where drugs are procured in the name of a rehabilitation centre, men are castrated to make them 'pure', women are procured to keep the baba's bed warm, policemen toe his line and politicians vie for his attention and the votes of his millions of followers.

The opening sequences are pure Prakash Jha. The conflict between the upper and lower castes sets the stage for Baba Nirala to make a grand entry as the savior of the downtrodden. It also shows his ruthlessness as he grabs the upper caste patriarch by the balls to have his way. In the process, he wins the lifelong loyalty of a young wannabe Dalit wrestler Pammi, who begins to swear by him. When she is deprived of a rightful shot at the Nationals by fraud, she joins the ashram, along with her brother.

But when the body of a girl is dug up during the construction of a factory, a chain reaction takes place which forces the baba and his trusted and menacing aide Bhopa to start firefighting operations. They encounter a stumbling block in the form of sub-inspector Ujagar Singh, who with the help of government doctor Natasha and the local cable news journalist, tries to gather evidence against him and crush his empire.

Bobby Deol is outstanding as the conman baba. His screen presence is marvelous and he gets the mannerisms spot on. Chandan Roy Sanyal as his trusted sidekick Bhopa, who does his dirty work, is a perfect foil and is equally impressive. So is Darshan Kumar as Inspector Ujagar Singh. Anupriya Goenka as Natasha gives good support. But the surprise package is Aaditi Pohankar as Pammi, the young wrestler in awe of the baba. Her transformation from a wide-eyed Dalit girl trying to make her mark in life to a fawning devotee is exceptional. Although Pohankar is a seasoned actress (she was equally impressive in She), she kills it in the role of Pammi.

Aashram is an important series, eminently watchable and entertaining. The twists and turns will keep viewers hooked. Be warned, you will want to watch all episodes at one go. So start watching when you have the time. The trailer of the second season raises hopes of more of the same, at an altogether different level. Since Ujagar Singh will leave no stone unturned to book the baba and his gang will fight tooth and nail to protect their evil empire, this is one fight worth waiting for.