Season 1, Episode 3 of Aarya (2020)
Song: Zindagi Ek Safar Hai Suhana by Kishore Kumar
The first season of ‘Aarya’ (an official adaptation of the popular Dutch crime drama ‘Penoza’) revolves around the titular character, Aarya Sareen, portrayed by the talented actress Sushmita Sen – a dutiful wife and mother who finds herself entangled in a web of crime and deceit after her husband is assassinated. Determined to protect her family, she steps into the dark world of narcotics to uncover the truth and seek justice. Through its exploration of power dynamics, family bonds, and resilience, ‘Aarya’ captivated audiences with its intense and thrilling plot. Among the many elements that contributed to its success, the licensed music stood out in particular, so let’s dive in and explore how various oldies from India’s Golden Age of cinema added depth and resonance to the storyline.
The song ‘Zindagi Ek Safar Hai Suhana’ appears as a particularly moving usage in the third episode, playing in the form of a raw recording at a funeral. Tej, our protagonist’s spouse, passes away suddenly after a brutal attack and many hours of fighting for his life in the hospital. The song plays during an in-memoriam video and the visuals are particularly haunting – panning over the faces of all his loved ones, devastated by his passing and mourning their losses in silence and reverence. The stellar acting in this scene (and the rest of the show), especially by the children, really helped me to connect with the emotion of the moment and brought a tear to my eye.
Using reprised or remixed versions of yesteryear’s songs is a pretty common move in modern Indian media – so what sets this placement apart? They use the song in it’s rawest form, mirroring the real life emotions that people associate with their favourite old songs. It is a simple recording of a loving father singing to his children, the lyrics reminding them that the beauty of life is not knowing what comes next. Even from beyond the grave, Tej tries his best to lift the spirits of his mourning family, telling them to carry on despite their losses. In hindsight, you will see that the choice of song also foreshadows the absolute shitstorm that’s about to come their way, as they are unwillingly pulled into the dark world of drug lords and hitmen.
‘Zindagi Ek Safar Hai Suhana’ isn’t the only song that makes an important appearance in the series – they have used the classic song ‘Bade Achche Lagte Hain’ multiple times for it’s melodic and sentimental value. It plays when Tej’s life fades away, when their puppy Mango dies, or when the kids are re-watching their father’s video, and the idea was to “drive this song into every human emotion one may feel while watching the series and create a lasting impact through the journey and to keep Tej alive without resorting to the crutches of flashbacks. We used a nostalgic song to keep his memory alive,” director Ram Madhvani told India Today. Score composer and producer Vishal Khurana has done an admirable job of seamlessly blending and incorporating these various iconic songs into the score, and the end result is equal parts uplifting and haunting.
The emotional resonance, nostalgic appeal, and thematic relevance of the sync licensed songs in this series added depth and meaning to the storyline. Through their reinterpretations and placements in key moments, the songs became synonymous with Aarya’s journey of resilience and transformation. The inclusion of such iconic songs in visual media not only enriches the storytelling experience but also reaffirms the timeless power of music in evoking emotions and connecting with audiences, in a distinctive way that I want to see more and more.