Amazon Prime Video original The Family Man will start streaming from September 20. Manoj Bajpayee will be seen essaying the lead role of a super spy trying hard to balance his domestic issues. Starring alongside him would be south Indian actor Priyamani, playing his wife Suchitra Tiwari.
Priyamani will be making her digital debut with this 10-episode series. Apart from working in Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam films, the 35-year-old has also done Hindi films like Chennai Express, Raavan and Rakta Charitra II.
In an exclusive interview with indianexpress.com, Priyamani opens up about her role in The Family Man, working with Manoj Bajpayee, what keeps her away from Bollywood and more.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
What kind of response are you getting for The Family Man?
This is the same venue (JW Marriott Hotel), where the audio launch of Chennai Express happened. So it’s a bit of nostalgia for me currently. Also, for an actor like me, who has about 55 films to her credit, it’s amazing to see such a humongous response for a trailer. It’s not just the Hindi audience, but my colleagues down south have also been impressed. They were like ‘Macha, it’s awesome.’ But then their next line would be, we are big fans of Manoj Bajpayee, please pass the message to him (laughs). Honestly, I have never seen such a response and now I feel it’s an added responsibility for us to give the audience a good show, which I know we will. Here, I would like to echo my directors Raj and DK’s words – please watch the show and if you like it, do recommend it to others.
While Bollywood actors have taken over the webspace, the medium is yet to get popular down south. Did that ever become a reason for second thoughts?
So before I got to know that Amazon Prime Video was on board, coming from that background, I was a little hesitant. In a time where all kinds of sexual content, kissing or nudity at different levels are being produced, I did have a little doubt. I spoke to Raj and DK and asked them if there would be any intimate scenes as I will not be comfortable with that. They told me we are making a family show, family banane wala show nahi. They assured me that it’s a very relatable and decent character which will connect with most women around.
Tell us more about your character.
Suchi is a south Indian but has grown up in Matunga, Mumbai. She is the wife of Srikant Tiwari and clearly wears the pants at home. She believes her husband does a regular government desk job. She is a working wife who has to take all the responsibilities with her husband being out on assignments. Recently we met some RAW agents and they echoed the same thoughts that the families of these spies have to actually face most of the issues. The partner and children have no clue about the nature of their jobs. I really feel that apart from army, navy, air forces, and soldiers at borders, these agents are also unsung heroes. They work 365 days, if not more, trying to find every threat that can hit their region. And ironically, not much is known about them and even if they are in trouble when caught, the country has to deny their association.
How was it working with Manoj Bajpayee? Did it take time to break the ice?
Not at all, we really started bonding from the first table read itself. I have a lot of respect for Manoj sir, not just as an artiste but also because he is a wonderful human being. He really made us comfortable. I recently realised that he is the common point for every character in the series. Srikant Tiwari rubs shoulders with everyone. I really had a great time and hope to get more chances of working with him.
Many actors still shy away from playing mothers on-screen, and you have two kids in your first digital venture.
I have played mother many times in south films. And I really have no problem with it. Times are changing, and so are the trend and people’s views. When I started years back, there was a lot of apprehension to don a mother’s role. People feared that once you play a mother, you will get similar roles from next time too. But look at actresses like Kareena Kapoor or Malaika Arora. They look so hot in real life despite being mothers. So the same can happen on-screen too. One doesn’t necessarily have to be grey-haired to portray a mother. Also, the audience has started accepting leading ladies as mothers, on and off-screen.
What has kept you away from Bollywood for so long?
(laughs) I hope through The Family Man, I get some good offers. Honestly, after Chennai Express, I did get some calls, some were good, some were not. But now, I hope people will sit up and take notice of my performance in the series. It’s not your regular web show, yet it is very relatable to everyone.
Fifty-five films and more, how satisfied do you feel as an actor?
All I can say is that I am still hungry to do more.
Helmed by filmmakers Raj and DK, The Family Man also stars Sharib Hashmi, Neeraj Madhav, Sharad Kelkar, Sunny Hinduja and Shreya Dhanwantary among others.