- BOTTOM LINE: A Layered Crime Drama Sans Surprise Value
|Platform: Amazon Prime||Genre: Crime|
What Is the Story About?
The Family Man tells the story of Srikant Tiwari, an investigative/intelligence officer part of a special squad working with the Central Government on aspects concerning the country’s security. It’s a high-risk, low-paying job for the officer who finds it challenging to juggle between his professional and personal duties. He is married to Suchitra Iyer and is a father to two children, who’re completely unaware of the nature of his job.
The series showcases the compromises an upright officer has to make to look at the larger good of the country. From Suchitra’s closeness to a male colleague in a new company, her crumbling marriage to Srikant’s pursuit to prevent a deadly terrorist attack, the multi-layered story has an interesting mix of humour, drama, crime and a dose of thrills. Where is this headed?
The Family Man starts on a fairly conventional note, throwing light on how an intelligence officer Srikant Tiwari barely has time to spend with his family, though he’s sincere in his attempts to do justice to his role – be it at work or home. Here’s a father who tries to make sense of a parent-teacher’s meeting at his daughter’s school, simultaneously thinking of a terrorist who’s just been caught as part of a security operation.
The hands-on mother is frankly livid with her husband for not taking enough responsibility for his children. It’s this interplay between profession and family that keeps the proceedings quirky and engaging, with the directors Krish and DK shifting between two parallel universes with effortless ease. They don’t dilute either of the issues but balance the seriousness with enough heartfelt humour.
The series is mostly engaging and scores on treatment, though there aren’t major surprises in the trajectory of the story. The Family Man makes use of the long-storytelling format to encompass several issues. The storytellers discuss hard-hitting political issues like anti-nationalism, cow vigilantism, anti-establishment with the right fearlessness. Issues like the willingness to stand up for the national anthem at movie theatres, Muslims being beaten to death for ‘reportedly’ carrying beef, religious extremism are also woven into the story without taking sides.
A Hindi-speaking Srikant is married to a Tamilian and the makers use this backdrop so adeptly to talk of the Hindi imposition debate and the importance of regional languages. A teenager sister finds it important to educate her younger brother about sanitary napkins and periods. Adults find it hard to get some ‘me-time’ after marriage, maintain the thin line of personal space among members in the family, struggle to get past the naughty 40s phase where the foundations of a relationship start weakening – these are only a few among the many nuances weaved seamlessly into the proceedings despite they, not being the central aspect of the story.
Just as the proceedings of the story shifts to Kashmir, the debate moves onto terrorism, national security, mysteries surrounding a mission that could destroy the peace of the country. The importance attached to the family drama takes a backseat and suddenly, Srikant appears to be any conventional hero. He holds negotiations with terrorists, travels to Balochistan, prevents a nerve-gas attack to name a few. The vulnerability in the character is missed. The series doesn’t lose its grip yet, but the balance between the harder and softer issues feels lost. Terms like a mission, religion, terrorism, national threats attain more significance and The Family Man takes the ‘Sacred Games’ route towards the climax.
Yet, the Raj-Krish DK directorial duo scores more targets than they miss. They prove that you don’t need to be crass, on-the-face while talking dark issues in a series, can maintain visual-medium aesthetics and still engage audiences. Their ability to handle multiple genres was already known in the past and their web-series debut is further proof to their versatility. Provided a viewer goes in with lesser expectations, he/she is bound to enjoy it more.
Manoj Bajpayee, regardless of the role he takes up, fits into the scheme of things like glue and his digital debut is no different. His understated humour, agility in handling action segments, the portrayal of vulnerability during emotional sequences come in very handy. He never steps a foot wrong, gets into the skin of a quirky character like Srikant Tiwari and shows his capability to headline a series with great composure.
But, the real surprise comes from Priyamani. After doing a series of worthless roles in commercial films, she gets something to sink her teeth into and is almost effortless in her performance as a middle-aged wife going through a marital crisis. Her Hindi diction is flawless, so is her body-language and expression-range. She presents the tough exterior of her role and also portrays the tenderness in her with equal grace. Her role is, however, abruptly cut short in the latter half of the series.
With Kishore, Gul Panag, Sundeep Kishan, Dalip Tahil essaying key roles, the performances remain the backbone of the series. The best part about their acts – they keep the performance flavourful, edgy without exaggerating too much. Though they may not have bagged full-fledged roles, they remain true to the setting and add authenticity to the series.
The small-time actors like Neeraj Madhav (as Moosa) and Sharib Hashmi (as Jk Talpade) get good screen space and they pack a good punch. Sharib Hashmi does well to be the loyalist of Manoj Bajpayee in any given situation, showcasing just the right amount of ease and comfort one has with a best friend at work. Neeraj Madhav, as a Malayalam-speaking terrorist who hails from Kerala, has a dark, complex part and whose performance belies his acting experience. He brings a human element to a role whose graph is quite unpredictable. The child-actors, particularly the boy Vedant Sinha, make an impression.
Music and Other Departments?
Music composer Ketan Sodha sustains the underdog, cheeky momentum of the series with his score that never lets a viewer off the hook. Cinematographers Nigam Bomzan, Azim Moollan traverse past a series of diverse locales in and beyond India and keep the proceedings slick, just enough to capture the atmosphere of their setting and not indulge too much. The writers Sumit Arora, Krishna D.K., Suman Kumar, Raj Nidimoru come up with a series that’s incredibly well-researched but the zip in the screenplay goes for a toss in its later portions.
Extremely slick action segments
A thin, predictable story
The wavering screenplay in the later portions
Will you recommend? Yes
Did I Enjoy It?
Will You Recommend It?
The Family Man Review by Srivathsan Nadadhur
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