After being pushed back multiple times and then being under the shadow of cancellation, due to the outraged Tamil Nadu Government, the defiant sophomore season of The Family Man is finally here and it is absolutely worth the wait.
The Family Man follows Srikant Tiwari (Manoj Bajpayee), an average middle class Indian man who works as an agent in the special Threat Analysis and Surveillance Cell (TASC) in the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
He has two children, Atharv (Vedant Sinha) and Dhriti (Ashlesha Thakur), with his wife, Suchitra (Priyamani). Due to the dangerous and highly secretive nature of his work, his family does not know the details of his job.
While season 1 of The Family Man focussed on the tensions in Kashmir with Pakistan, season 2 shifts its focus to the tensions in Tamil Nadu with Sri Lanka.
Fed up and disillusioned by the workings of TASC, and guilt ridden after being a part of the public shaming of a deceased innocent Kashmiri youth, who was labeled as a terrorist, Srikant quits TASC and starts working in an IT firm. He tries to be the perfect husband to make Suchitra happy and make up for all the time he spent away from the family due to his previous job.
Srikant still remains in touch with his trusty colleague and close friend, JK Talpade (Sharib Hashmi), through whom he manages to keep a connection to his old life.
Meanwhile, soldiers of the freedom movement in Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka are trying to gain legitimacy for their ‘government in exile’. To prevent them from getting a seat at the United Nations, the Sri Lankan Prime Minister asks the Prime Minister of India, PM Basu (Seema Biswas) to capture Subbu, one of the key ministers of the Government in exile who is living in India.
TASC is assigned to capture Subbu alive. Srikant is unable to keep himself uninvolved in events that follow that once again threaten to disrupt his home life.
The Family Man is full of fantastic character actors who give excellent performances whenever they appear on screen.
Manoj Bajpayee is spectacular as Srikant Tiwari. His nonchalance charm along with all-too-familiar struggles make him an excellent protagonist. He gives the best performance in a cast that is already supremely talented. In many ways, Srikant is like an average Indian uncle but Bajpayee’s portrayal is absolutely unique and deeply nuanced. He is not a caricature that he could have very easily been. His chemistry with everyone in the cast is instantly fantastic.
Sharib Hashmi as JK Talpade acts as a great foil to Srikant. He plays off well with Bajpayee while also having plenty of terrific moments of his own.
Priyamani as Suchitra, once again gives a fantastic performance. Priyamani expressed the guilt, turmoil and the discomfort that Suchitra is feeling after carrying a secret for all this time. Once again, her scenes with Bajpayee are realistic yet fantastic. She remains one of the best actors in the series.
Samatha Akkineni plays Raji, a highly trained Tamil Eelam soldier who lives covertly in India. After the death of her entire family and anyone she cared about through the hands of the Sri Lankan Army, Raji simply wants vengeance. Akkineni is a new addition to the cast in season 2 but she stands out. She is absolutely spectacular and a treat to watch. Her struggles of being a woman in abusive circumstances makes the audience empathise with her even more.
Sunny Hinduja as Milind Hinduja gives a surprisingly fantastic performance. His performance this season is much more memorable than his performance last season. That is quite possibly because Milind has problems like PTSD and survivor’s guilt to deal with this season, making his character much more nuanced. With recent acclaim for playing Sandeep Bhaiya in TVF Aspirants and now as the traumatised TASC intelligence agent, 2021 is shaping up to be a fantastic year for Hinduja.
Vedant Sinha who plays Srikant’s younger son, Atharva and Ashlesha Thakur who plays his elder daughter, Dhriti, really get moments to shine this season. The precocious and witty Atharva is an excellent comic relief while also being the heart of the family. Meanwhile Thakur gives an excellent performance towards the end of the season.
The eccentric and specific supporting characters are also excellent in their roles. Kaustubh Kumar as Tanmay is hilarious as Srikant’s patronising scrawny young boss, who thinks of himself as Mark Hanna in The Wolf of Wall Street.
The Family Man has always been a highly nuanced series. The writer-director-creator duo — Krishna DK and Raj Nidimoru — better known as Raj and DK, do not paint the characters in black and white, instead all the characters are grey.
The Family Man does not pass a judgement on any of its characters. Instead, it presents to the viewers; the life, ideologies, struggles and circumstances of all the characters and lets the audience be the moral judge. This effectively makes all the characters a protagonist in their own story.
Such emotional attachment to all the characters makes the stakes higher. Raj and DK are also comfortable with killing off characters, as a result the thrilling moments of the show genuinely offer edge of the seat, nail biting thrills. The second last episode of the season especially is exceptionally well crafted and one of the most thrilling episodes in recent history.
A series that follow a seasonal arc usually forget about the characters of the previous seasons but The Family Man builds upon several characters from season 1 that could easily have been forgotten by the audience.
The way The Family Man blends genres is truly masterful. It switches from comedy to drama to action to thriller all within a few minutes without being jarring. Again this is due to the characters driven writing on the show that even extends to the naturalistic dialogues which are hilarious because they are so real.
There are several themes that are woven into the series that are expressed through the differences in the characters. The way the north- south divide is expressed is especially interesting.
The action scenes are also well executed. Although The Family Man uses a lot of shaky cam, that is a creative choice and not one borne out of apathy. The cinematography is frantic and energetic. Raj and DK also take it upon themselves to craft several very well choreographed long take action scenes that are once again very unique and thrilling to watch.
The Family Man miserably fails in one technical aspect of the series, that is the ADR, Automated Dialogue Replacement, more commonly known as dubbing.
For some reason, the series uses a lot of dubbing. Several pieces of dialogue have been added to the series in post production. Scenes have been shot from far and dubbed so that the audience cannot read the actors lips.
The dubbing is truly atrocious and unnatural and takes you out of the series in an instant. This minor technical issue single handedly ruins several scenes in each episode.
With a 9 hour-long runtime, The Family Man is a long watch that could have certainly benefited from some more editing, particularly in episode 5 and 6.
Although, going above and beyond and shooting long takes is a commendable job, Raj and DK seem to over use it and treat it as a gimmick at times. This results in long take sequences where the cuts in the supposed long takes are fairly obvious and hidden in whip pan cuts.
The constraints of the budget can also be seen in the limited VFX on the show. Particularly things like smoke and explosions have been poorly made.
The Family Man usually has excellent performances even from the supporting characters but the minor characters with one or two lines are sometimes terrible and break the illusion of the series.
The Family Man season 2 is bigger, better and more thrilling than the previous season, which is a rare achievement. It’s genre bending curation allows it to be appealing to almost all tastes. The Family Man season 2 is a must watch.