The beautiful location is perhaps the most important character of the moody mystery on Netflix.
Deep coniferous forests where the mist swirls mysteriously. Winding mountain roads that give the twists and turns of the plot a run for their money. Timber homes where the glass-paned windows frame the glorious mountains perfectly. Red-roofed shops where characters of all sorts congregate just as they do in rea life. The reel version of small-town Himachal is just as scenic as the real thing. If, like us, you binge-watched Aranyak, which stars actress Raveena Tandon, you’ll have realised that Sironah plays its part just as much as the cast of good actors does.
But where exactly is this Sironah? Search online and you’ll realise many others have beaten you to it. And you’ll come away empty-handed, as no such place exists in reality. It is but a figment of the writer’s imagination, the director’s vision, and the cinematographer’s creation.
Screenwriter Charudutt Acharya, an FTII graduate, who also holds an MA in feature film screenwriting from the Royal Holloway University of London, has worked on many feature films and TV dramas, including Crime Patrol and Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahi, and has several more in development. He is the one who wrote the intriguing tale of Aranyak that has gripped the imagination of so many viewers across India in the last week. Aranyak dropped on Netflix on December 10 and is being aggressively promoted on huge hoardings everywhere. We spoke to Acharya to find out where Sironah was born and how it was conceived.
While writing the script, did you have a particular place in mind which represented Sironah?
Yes. I had Himachal Pradesh in mind. I had conceived the story of Aranyak during a holiday in Manali.
Where was the series shot and what are the characteristics of the location that embodied what Sironah meant to you?
Sironah is a fictitious town I created for the story. It was shot in and around Kasauli and Manali. The forests play an important part in the story. The show is named after forests, after all!
What were the benefits of setting the story in a small town in the Indian mountains?
One did not set the story in a small Himalayan town for any particular benefits. The story was from there, so it had to be shot there. The added visual treat is a bonus.
We agree. Here is our take on both places, if you want to explore the beautiful locations. Rest assured, there’s no nar-tendwa lurking in these forests anywhere!
A short drive from Chandigarh and within easy distance of Shimla, Kasauli is a delightful little hamlet that is worth at least a two-day visit, and more if you care to relax amidst the cedar-lined lower reaches of the Himalayas. It as a mix of traditional Himachali homes and throwbacks to its days as a British colonial hill station.
Top 5 must dos
Gilbert Trail: For a fantastic and secluded walk around the edges of the mountains, with great valley vistas.
Kasauli Club: To relax and make connections, if you have the connections!
The Timber Trail Ropeway at Parwanoo: For the touristy experience and a great view.
Heritage Market: For knickknacks and skirmishes with persistent monkeys.
Christ Church: For a little bit of colonial history, and a whole lot of atmosphere.
About 270 kms from Shimla, Manali has been a tourist magnet for decades. There is a lot to explore in and around the destination.
Top 5 must dos
Camping: For a thrilling time in tents by the riverside.
Solang valley: For zip lining and cable cars in the midst of nature’s splendour.
White-water rafting: For a different side to the river Beas!
Hidimba Devi Temple: For natural beauty, traditional architecture and immersion in Mahabharata stories.
International Roerich Memorial Trust: For art by the celebrated Russian painter Nicholas Roerich who lived here for much of his life.