A poorest of the poor series, Aashram stumped me with its abject crassness. Lengthy sequences of girls being chased across forests infested with two-legged animals, Babas and Babus seeking sexual favours from Babes who are all for it as long as the zeroes on the cheque are enticing enough and the storm of salaciousness in Aashram is the equivalent of a raid at a factory where the law enforcers sit and watch the obscene and vulgar acts. Prakash Jha who once made films about class discrimination and social inequality like Damul and Apaharan scales down his vision to suit the cheesy requirements of homegrown entertainment.
Normally used as a form of brutal oppression in Jha’s cinema, the word ‘sex’ is used as a seductive tool for the first time in the filmmaker’s work. Sadly, when we see the Caucasian woman Lucy (clad in a sultry gown and all) seducing the senior police officer we can only burst out laughing. The moans, groans and the pixelated glimpse of her private parts … is this supposed to be titillating? And if it is, then isn’t the series director guilty of the same sins as the shambolic baba?
The series has any number of strands jutting out of the plot like queasy hair from aging ears: the conscientious investigating cop (Darshan Kumaar), the innocent oppressed lower-caste girl (Aditi Phankar) who falls prey to Baba’s lust, the honest female doctor (Anupriya Goenka) who won’t be intimidated by muscle or money power, the Baba’s brutal right-hand man (Chandan Roy Sanyal) who won’t stop at anything to please his lord and master and finally Nirala Baba, so smug in his debauchery that he seems to be doing civilization a favour with his filthy doings. As the Baba, Bobby Deol is hardly there. Whenever he does show up, he wears the look of bemused attachment that says, ‘Aise bhi log hote hain kya?’ The answer to that is, yes as long as there are sleazy serials there will be a society more than willing to match up. Welcome to Nirala Baba’s despicable Aashram. Check in at your own risk.