Aspirants (2021) Webseries Review

Creators: Arunabh Kumar, Shreyansh Pandey
Stars: Naveen Kasturia, Shivankit Singh Parihar, Abhilash Thapliyal

The story revolves around three UPSC aspirants: Abhilash, Guri, and SK. All three have come to Rajinder Nagar, Delhi, to pursue their dreams of becoming civil servants. Abhilash has taken a break from his job, SK has no backup plans, and Guri has a more relaxed approach to life. Aspirants take us on their journey, showcasing their anxieties, tough choices, sacrifices, the advice they receive, and the conflicts that arise among them throughout the five-episode series.

The creators of Aspirants seem aware that the series structure will be familiar to many viewers. They even acknowledge the reference to Dil Chahta Hai through the character SK. Instead of deviating too much from that formula, writer Deepesh Sumitra Jagdish focuses on developing the characters. This approach allows the series to connect with the audience on various levels. Personally, I found SK’s character particularly compelling, and one of the standout scenes for me was his phone call to Abhilash in the final episode. However, it doesn’t mean that the other characters are any less engaging. Guri is highly emotional, Abhilash is constantly plagued by insecurity, and Sandeep Bhaiya appears to have faced the toughest challenges. Each major character in Aspirants brings something familiar and relatable, keeping the series consistently engaging.

In some ways, Aspirants dispel the notion that realism is the only way to create compelling content. Director Apoorv Singh Karki demonstrates how an evolved version of cinematic storytelling can still capture the essence of a story. The series includes dramatic moments, cheesy romantic encounters, and slow-motion shots, but it embraces the changing trends in presentation and presents them in a fresh and engaging manner. Writer Deepesh Sumitra Jagdish does an excellent job of blending the emotional journeys of the characters with the hurdles they face in their UPSC preparations. Sandeep’s life story, for example, serves as a catalyst for Abhilash to make the right choices in his UPSC journey. The cinematography effectively captures the essence of Rajinder Nagar, and the seamless cross-cutting between past and present adds depth to the storytelling.

The performances in Aspirants are commendable. Naveen Kasturia convincingly portrays the anxiety and determination of Abhilash without going overboard. Shivankit Parihar’s portrayal of Guri is effective, especially in his scenes with Kasturia where he struggles to maintain his composure. Sunny Hinduja delivers a terrific performance as Sandeep Bhaiyya, displaying a less-is-more approach that enhances the character’s depth. Through a scene where Sandeep narrates his story to Abhilash, we feel his fiancée’s unwavering faith in him, thanks to the brilliant dialogue delivery. Namita Dubey brings heft to the role of Dhairya, the sole female perspective in the series. Although her character has a significant impact on the journey of the main characters, I hope we get to explore her character in more depth in a potential second season. However, my personal favorite was Abhilash Thapliyal as the overlooked friend SK. SK endures a certain level of humiliation but relies on his friends for support. Thapliyal’s earnest performance makes SK an incredibly endearing character.

TVF’s Aspirants strikes all the right chords. With its well-developed characters and their personal struggles intertwined with the competitive world of UPSC exams, the series feels familiar yet refreshing. The show has successfully created a strong foundation, and if there is a second season, delving deeper into characters like Dhairya and SK would further enhance the series. Aspirants is a must-watch for anyone who appreciates relatable characters and a heartfelt narrative.

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