A.I.SHA Is Back With Season 3. Here’s What You Need to Know

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A.I.SHA Is Back With Season 3. Here’s What You Need to Know

Illustration: Arati Gujar

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he third season of Arré’s award-winning science-fiction web series, A.I.SHA, is finally set to release on March 4. The series that debuted in 2016, and racked up awards at the LA Web Festival and the South Florida WebFest, revolves around software developer Sam, who creates an Artificial Intelligence Simulated Humanoid Assistant — also known as A.I.SHA.

So it’s fitting that the action-packed Season 3 trailer launched yesterday evening at the annual Cloud Security Summit, hosted by global cybersecurity company, Palo Alto Networks, who are also the presenting sponsor and cybersecurity advisor to the series. Teasing some big reveals to come, the trailer promises an escalation of the show’s conflicts around cybercrime and the battle between man and machine.

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A sneak peek of the A.I.SHA Season 3 trailer.

A.I.SHA’s big question is: Since when has creating an omniscient robot solved anyone’s problems? In previous seasons, Sam’s greedy boss, Sid (Raghu Ram, who has also produced the show for Arré) tries to wrest control of A.I.SHA because she’s a goldmine for his tech company. Meanwhile, a shadowy hackers’ collective called Maya is also scheming to get their hands on A.I.SHA — who, in a Frankenstein’s Monster scenario, wants to be with Sam by any means necessary.

It’s the perfect premise for a gripping thriller, and the first two seasons built up the drama around tech-heavy twists and turns, relying on the tensions that arise when the digital and real worlds collide. Season 3 features the addition of longtime Arré collaborator Aahana Kumra as a police officer trying to bring Maya to justice, while a host of old characters return, including Sam, played by Ruslaan Mumtaz. Auritra Ghosh, who in Season 1 played Kriti, Sam’s love interest who was killed and who inspired him to create A.I.SHA, also makes a super-creepy reappearance.

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The cast of A.I.SHA at the Palo Alto Cloud Security Summit.

It’s been nearly two years since Season 2, but Raghu Ram hopes that the wait will be worth it. “There was a completely different story arc, and then we had a rethink. We started from scratch,” he told us at the launch. He knows that A.I.SHA comes with high expectations, and not just because of the international awards the series has picked up. “It’s the icing on the cake, but it’s the cake we’re into. For me, a show needs to work for the platform and the audience.”

For new cast member Aahana Kumra, this was one of the major attractions of the series. “I was trying to figure out what kind of audience watches A.I.SHA. It’s not a funny show like Official Chukyagiri,” she said, referring to her role on another Arré web series. She’s never played a cop before, despite her mother being a decorated police officer. “My mom is very critical of cops on-screen… I’ve seen women cops and how brutal they can be.” And the show’s focus on realism, what Raghu calls “a believable suspension of disbelief,” goes beyond her character, she says. At last year’s World Conference for Information Technology in Hyderabad, Aahana saw the AI robot Sophia. “Saudi Arabia has given her citizenship… We are living in this world. I think what the show is trying to say is, be careful.”

Raghu Ram and Aahana Kumra speak with the press.

“Half the characters are delusional on this show,” points out Adesh Sidhu, who plays Cyrus, the psychotic leader of Maya. It’s an exploration of the darker side of people and their megalomania, he says. Artificial intelligence, androids — these cutting-edge tech developments come with a side of ethical arguments over humanity’s God complex, and A.I.SHA grapples with this through its characters.

This clash of personalities — the types who would be interested in using a self-learning AI for their own agenda — is part of what makes the show such a wild ride, as much for the actors as the audience. Rashi Mal, who plays Maya member Abby, says that even she was startled to read the season end. “But in a series like this, it’s imperative that that happens.” According to Auritra, the fun will begin from the very first episode, where her new role will be revealed. “They’re poles apart,” she says of her Season 3 outing. “The way I prepared is completely different.”

It’s the perfect premise for a gripping thriller, and the first two seasons built up the drama around tech-heavy twists and turns, relying on the tensions that arise when the digital and real worlds collide.

Will the much-awaited season, helmed by new director Ajay Bhuyan, be up to scratch for fans? “As I’ve been part of every process, I really have no one else to blame,” laughs Raghu. “But this is how I prefer it. It’s good to take feedback from audiences, but wrong to seek approval from everyone.” For a guy who’s obsessed with the high-tech, Raghu still thinks of himself as an old-school creator, not used to seeing viewers’ reactions in real time. Just as he doesn’t place a lot of importance on awards, Raghu also tries to filter out the barrage of critics and trolls. “Everyone has an opinion, and it’s a dangerous thing,” he muses. Call it another casualty of the digital revolution, along with all the bodies piled up on A.I.SHA.

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The team behind the A.I.SHA Season 3 launch.

Season 3 0f A.I.SHA will premiere on Arré and MX Player on March 4.  

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