Found another brilliant show from Doordarshan archives, Aarohan (1996-97) from Prasar Bharati Archives on YouTube. Thank you, Aparna Kunal Jain for the recommendation.
Aarohan is the story of the first batch of women cadets who joined Navy way back in the 1990s. It is a make-believe story with a fictional scenario, set in the days when Indian women could not join the Navy. The Indian navy opened its branches slowly and steadily to women over a period of time. Initially, they were allowed to join only in the branches of Law, Logistics, Air Traffic control, Education, and Naval Architecture. Seawater turned gender-neutral only recently. India got its first woman Navy pilot, Sub Lieutenant Shivangi Hari Bhushan Singh, only in 2019.
Aarohan TV Series Storyline
Two young energetic girls Nikita Sachdev and Nivedita Sen aspire to join the Indian Navy and clear the selection exams with flying colors. But when they reach the training academy, the harshness of the training and the rocky career ahead dawns on them.
With seasoned actors and a tight gripping plot, the serial is a definite hit. What is interesting is that the story focuses on the technical side of the Naval training rather than their emotional journey. The struggles which these women cadets face, right from convincing their family members to join the navy, to later handle the condescending behavior of the senior officers at the training academy are highlighted very well.
The upheavals the cadets go through, the tough exercise regimen, strict time management, ability to deliver under trying circumstances, and the hard punishments if they miss on their duties are all beautifully captured. It does get a little preachy at times; considering that the Navy itself must have evolved in two decades and the equipment and the machinery which are shown in such great detail in the TV series could be obsolete now. The makers delve into the different ranks of navy, attire, and civil manners, in great detail.
On sidelines, run two romances of the two leads with their senior officers, both the romances are beautiful and very subtle. In the end, there is a war-like scenario which is created where the cadets realize that it is just not the commitment and determination which matters, defense forces also demand heavy sacrifice; of their own lives or of their near and dear ones.
Pallavi Joshi, the scriptwriter and producer of this series was definitely a thinker ahead of her time, we do not get these types of series quite often. I am rather surprised that this was not made into a film. Bollywood could do well with these types of movies, it would have been a definite classic. The message is nailed so hard into the head that at one point in time the viewer will definitely feel guilty for not attempting to join defense forces at least once in their lives. It has a good star cast and all the actors have done a fabulous job.
My Final Verdict on This TV Series
Shot in the 1990s, Aarohan must definitely have raised the bar of Indian television shows by a few notches. Alas, the curve took a downward spiral with the soap operas of the 2000s. But what has to be cherished must be cherished. In short, Aarohan is a timeless classic, which deserves applause. If you like defense forces, do not miss this.
The World of Movies Rating 09/10
Cast: Pallavi Joshi as Cadet Nikita Sachdev, Shefali Shah as Cadet Nivedita Sen, Tarun Dhanrajgir as Lt. Commander Siddharth Khurana, Anju Mahendru as Commander Kashmira Khurana, Parveen Dastur as Cadet Vinita Krishnamurti, Harsh Chhaya as Lt. Rohit Sharma, Girish Malik as Sahil Khurana, Amit Behl as Flying Officer Nikhil Sachdev, Arun Bali as Rear Admiral Karan Khurana, R Madhavan as Lt. Shammi, Satyen Kappu as Colonel Arun Sachdev
Year of Release: 1996
Country of Origin: India
Original Network: DD National (Doordarshan)
Directed by: Nandu Ghanekar
Written by: Pallavi Joshi
Genre: Drama, TV Series
Number of Seasons: 01
Number of Episodes: 13
Episode Length: 25-27 minutes
Distributed by: Doordarshan
Production Companies: Atharvaa Communications
Image Source: Screenshots taken from the TV Series.
Reviewed by: Anantha Alagappan