The new season of ‘The Family Man’ is fun and absorbing, led by the ever-dependable Manoj Bajpayee and a fiery Samantha Akkineni
In the thick of things and trying to avert an imminent threat, a group of National Investigation Agency (NIA) officers ruminate on why politicians can’t look at an issue without being driven by the politics of it all. An officer states that irrespective of whether they agree with an ideology or not, their duty is to serve the country in the interest of national security. Nothing else matters. They agree in unison and gear up for the rest of the fight, knowing well what’s at stake.
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Season 1 of Raj and DK’s The Family Man was an absorbing, though a tad overdrawn, story of how these invisible and unsung heroes, led by Srikant Tiwari (Manoj Bajpayee), counter a terror operation. They left us on a cliffhanger.
The Family Man 2
- Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Samantha Akkineni, Priyamani
- Direction: Raj and DK
- Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
A follow-up to a worthwhile series is usually tricky and weighed down by expectations. Nevertheless, Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK hold on to their nerves and deliver yet again. Season two is also lengthy, takes its own time to set the stage for a high on-adrenaline clash replete with well constructed action sequences, and ultimately triumph.
As Srikant Tiwari, Manoj Bajpayee is all earnestness and stoic, holding our attention even during the sluggish portions. Meanwhile, rising slowly as a fiery nemesis and making us take a new look at her is Samantha Akkineni.
It did take me a while to shake off her star image. She might have gone rustic and sported darker make-up in her Telugu film Rangasthalam, but she was still required to look glamorous in it. This series is her test, to make us believe she can play a rebel named Raji, from Sri Lanka, fighting for an independent State.
Raj and DK don’t rush through her characterisation. But thanks to the trailer, we know how things will turn out. So to an extent, it spoils the conceit of the initial portions where she goes about her day-to-day travails. But boom! Her eyes — deeply filled with hurt from the past and the disgust she feels for the person seated opposite to her — say it all when she counters an officer’s lamely-constructed false story with her own distressing truth.
From then on, the officer and we look at Raji for what she portrays and embodies, looking beyond the star portraying her. One of the successes of this series lies in constructing a strong nemesis for Srikant Tiwari.
The series also takes confident strides towards realistically letting a bulk of its characters speak in Tamil (a neutral Tamil Nadu dialect as well as the distinct Sri Lankan Tamil dialect), without masking it with Hindi, as would be the norm in a mainstream film. At one point, when Srikant and buddy officer Talpade (Sharib Hashmi) struggle with Tamil on arriving in Chennai, one of them says something like ‘just because you speak Hindi, don’t assume the entire world does so too’. A digital platform where viewers consume content with subtitles is a great place to reflect India’s multicultural and multilingual stories.
A bulk of the new season’s conflict happens in Chennai, where a group of Sri Lankan Tamil liberation ideologues work covertly. Some of the members operate from London. Their leader is called Bhaskaran (Mime Gopi), like LTTE’s Prabhakaran. The story also touches upon the fact that the rebels have local sympathisers, which makes the job tougher for investigation officers.
Many of the characters in this complex mosaic are gradually delineated, with enough room to throw light on what makes them the way they are.
Along with it, there are multiple actors to root for. Manoj Bajpayee immaculately internalises everything his character goes through on the personal and professional fronts. Sharib Hashmi offers steadfast support. Several others are noteworthy — the actors cast as the Tamil rebels, an informer, a misguided teen, Seema Biswas as the Prime Minister, her aide, and the officers in Chennai — the most memorable being Ravindra Vijay and Devadarshini (I wish she had been given more to do).
A few beats are on familiar paths; the manner in which a nosy and annoying young boss who labels Srikant as a ‘minimum guy’ is dealt with, for example. There are other expected progressions — the way a sexual predator on public transport is dealt with. Another sexual assaulter is also dealt with, but not before the story pauses to unravel deeper wounds of a victim.
The turbulence between Srikant and his wife Suchi (Priyamani) spills over from Season 1, but the counselling and introspection portions get boring after a point. The story also looks at the emotional toll that a marital discord can cause among children of the household, especially in an adolescent.
The Family Man is not all serious. Srikant is dealing with a crisis and ideally it shouldn’t be a laugh aloud moment, but I laughed at his distraught look when he struggles to understand new-age terminology such as ‘feminazi’. Srikant might have moved to a corporate job and thereby to salad and pasta from vada pav, but the young gen is a different beast for him to understand.
Other small moments add to the fun, like the Chennai officer ribbing the Hindi-speaking counterpart who claims he loves South Indian food, but struggles to mention anything beyond idli and filter coffee. Over time, he’s given lessons on how to eat idli with podi, and so on.
With nine episodes, and the actual adrenaline rush portions only beginning from episode 4, this is an unhurried, slow burn series coming from a good writing and sound technical team. Stick with it, and it’s both immersive and fun.
Oh, and there’s more coming.
(The Family Man 2 streams on Amazon Prime Video)