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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Family Man 2 makers on Samantha Akkineni: She took extreme risk to do this role, it is a brave choice

The highly-anticipated season two of The Family Man, starring Manoj Bajpayee, Samantha Akkineni, Priyamani and Sharib Hashmi, will premiere on Amazon Prime Video on June 4.

Written by Priyanka Sharma | Mumbai |
Updated: June 3, 2021 8:47:56 am
the family man trailer dateThe Family Man Season 2 will begin streaming on Amazon Prime Video from June 2. (Photo: Twitter/PrimeVideoIN)

After almost two years and thousands of fan requests later, Manoj Bajpayee-starrerT he Family Man is returning for its second season. The  adventures of Srikant Tiwari, who struggles to be a family man in between saving the world, will go live June 4 on Amazon Prime Video. Already doing a tightrope walk between a middle-class life and all the challenges it entails, and being a super spy, the precarious balance of Srikant’s life goes completely awry with the entry of his new nemesis, Rajji who is played by South star Samantha Akkineni.

In an interview with the indianexpress.com, Manoj Bajpayee and The Family Man 2 creators Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK speak about what has changed the second time round and why Srikant looks so rattled. They also weigh in on whether the second season borrowed anything from various fan theories and why Samantha Akkineni’s decision to do the show was brave.

Do you feel the pressure of fans’ expectations or is there just excitement in the room ahead of second season?

DK: (Laughs) There is pressure. Nobody wants to answer this question.

Manoj: I am sure Raj and DK, Suparn (Varma, writer), Suman (Kumar, writer) and the whole team feeling the pressure because they are the originators, they have been with the project from the beginning till the end. But at the same time, I feel it’s unnecessary (laughs). They have created such a fantastic creative piece with season one, and the second season is uninfluenced and unimpacted by the success of the first season, because we already shot the first schedule by the time the first edition was out.

The family has moved on, Srikant has moved on and he has new challenges on work front and I am restlessly curious to know how people are going to receive Srikant in these new circumstances, how they will welcome this explosive character like Samantha’s. That way, I am assured we have a great product in hand.

DK: Thankfully, when we were scripting, developing and even filming season two, the weight of season one was not on us. We went organically into season two.

While only the first schedule of The Family Man 2 was complete, the response from the audience for the first season started pouring in. So, was it easy for you as creators to disassociate the process of filming from the reactions? Or were there times when you thought you might get influenced, because once a season becomes hit, there are fan theories and predictions, like how should the season two begin, what Srikant Tiwari should do next…

Raj: We saw some really credible theories, and at least three were shortlisted. And we realised, we weren’t doing any of the three. Now, we did good or bad, we don’t know. But we had thought it in a different way, how to go forward and we stuck to it. All we did was tweak here and there just for a couple of small things that we might have forgotten and audience made us realise how much they loved a certain part of it and we realised that we weren’t paying attention to it. So, 5-10 per cent of tweaks after the response, but rest we were going on a different path.

DK: The thing about a sequel is, like you said, everybody makes their own stories. Just like everybody else, we also made our own story and we are lucky that we get to show it.

What was it about Samantha that you felt she needed to be a part of the show?

DK: We had written a Tamil-speaking character. The first rule that we have been following since season one was that we go and find a Tamil-speaking actor.

Raj: What’s funny is that someone asked us what’s the last film of Samantha that we watched and we said Rangasthalam. It was a good, fun film but her character had nothing to do with what we were casting for.

DK: We also saw Super Deluxe. And she has never done something like this. In fact, I don’t think anyone has done a character like this. But you have to go with the faith in the actor.

Raj: Samantha’s choice of doing The Family Man 2 is an extremely risky one, especially if you see how passionately her fans follow her work. Already there are few comments saying, ‘What did you do to our beautiful Samantha?’ I said she is still beautiful, in just a different role. Someone like her doing this role is very risky. It is brave to say, ‘I am going to let go of all the things people look in me, in my character and I will embrace a completely different, contrasting character and try and do my best with it.’

Manoj, you have repeatedly made and broken images over these years. You play one character and the next would be a complete departure. But interestingly, with The Family Man 2, it will be first time you will be playing the same character again, in the same setting but different circumstances. So, were there moments when you felt you were literally competing with yourself? 

Manoj: The first witnesses to the changed Srikant Tiwari were Raj and DK. They were observing and coming up with their suggestions. But this time I needed their control much more than I needed it in the first season. I needed much more response from them.

Raj: I could see his effort and struggle. He is just going to drink water and go and do a great scene (laughs). But we had this conversation, where he told us that he was trying to do something else. ‘I know it’s the same character but I am trying to do something else here,’ he said. And we could perceptively see that. So, whoever is watching it very closely– it’s very nuanced because you can’t depart and start talking like somebody else. You will see a lot of that if you closely observe his acting style in season one and two. He did bring in a subtle but a challenging shift.

Manoj: I also feel that Srikant Tiwari in the second season looks rattled at times. That you don’t see in the first season because there you feel he has answers for everything.

DK: Yeah. The cockiness and the confidence of the first season takes a little beating here. He is a little unsure.

Manoj: Yes, for a while he really feels helpless. As an audience, you feel at times that he may get sucked into it, he may surrender. But he is Srikant Tiwari at the end of the day. He finds an answer. But for those moments, you do feel that this is not the Srikant Tiwari that you knew in the first season.

Is that a risk?

Manoj: It’s never a risk. The audience also wants to see him going through all those ups and downs and enjoy the complete journey of Srikant Tiwari rather than sticking to one kind. The element of Srikant Tiwari is never going to go away. But keeping that element intact, showing him to deal with different circumstances, breaking at times and then picking up very fast and coming out victorious is Srikant Tiwari. He is like a cockroach.

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