Directors: Raj & DK
When Amazon Prime released the trailer of their yet another original series, ‘The Family Man’ it looked intense and catchy, something that will keep you on the edge of your seats. Although, telling a story about a middle-class Indian man who is a secret agent can be a tricky subject, the directors and creators Raj & DK nailed it. More so, when you have power-pack performers of actors like Manoj Bajpayee, Priyamani, Sharib Hashmi, Neeraj Madhav, Gul Panag, Darshan Kumaar, Kishore it makes watching ‘The Family Man’ a treat. However, the main hero of the series remains the content and the script.
Manoj Bajpayee as Srikant Tiwari is stuck at his low-paying, paper-pushing government job as per his family but, in reality, is a secret agent with an intelligence agency TASC – Threat Analysis and Surveillance Cell, Mumbai and his office routine usually involves nabbing, questioning and even shooting down terrorists.
While the story predominantly revolves around Srikant Tiwari’s quest to find a balance between his personal and professional life, every supporting character, from his best mate and colleague Talpade (Sharib Hashim), wife Suchitra (Priyamani), his children etc., each character’s graph is well-defined enabling writers to take the story forward smoothly. Although none of these characters is totally dependent on Srikant, yet Srikant’s life might fall apart if even a single one of them abandons him. Be it Srikant’s love for cooking biryani, frowning at his kids for overspending at the supermarket, his younger brother constantly taunting him about his govt. job, his guilt and nervousness when Suchi wants to step out of her comfort zone and follow her ambitions, Manoj’s nuanced performance shows his constant inner conflict, compassion, vulnerabilities and insecurities through a touch of humor and loads of reality.
In the midst of all these ubiquitous but demanding situations, the writers very skilfully and smartly build up the central part of the story – Operation Zulfikar, which is said to have been already put in motion by a group of ISIS terrorists. The underlying subplots which talk about the anti-national sentiments, nationalist propaganda, the burning beef issue, Mumbai bombings, geopolitical issues involving Kashmir are weaved in carefully and handled sensitively.
Although, a few episodes where Srikant is in Kashmir trying to find intel about the mission seemed a bit drab, the makers kept up the suspense and the momentum by peeling the layers of Moosa’s (Neeraj Madhav) character. Neeraj Madhav’s character arc keeps you invested throughout.
However, the big surprise comes with National Film Award winner Priyamani’s character Suchitra Tiwari who blends in perfectly as Bajpayee’s wife. A well-known name in the South Indian film industry, Priyamani did a few Hindi movies but is mostly known for her famous dance number from Shahrukh Khan – Deepika Padukone starrer Chennai Express.
Priyamani’s character is not just watered down to being a nagging wife, but she perfectly emotes her vulnerabilities, insecurities, her guilt to break-free from the shackles of her mundane yet overly demanding domestic life by chasing her ambitions, constant disappointments from her husband, or trying to be a friend to her kids, the actor stands out in every scene. While Srikant may be the husband, she definitely wears the pants at home and seamlessly handles work, home, husband and children who are facing their own challenges. She’s a wife who has a voice of her own and doesn’t necessarily shy away from it. The actress lately who has been very choosy about her projects, made her online debut with this Hindi series even though the Tamil industry has been churning out interesting online content. Just like the ending, the makers have left her character at a cliff-hanger to keep up the mystery around her storyline in season 2.
‘The Family Man’ is flawed at certain places and the pace of the story does get a little drab in between, but the tight writing, unpredictable twists, and the cliffhanging ending has all the right elements that keep you hooked. The series has 10 episodes and each is around 40-50 minutes long.
Review By: Shreya Iyer