The Family Man cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Priyanami and Sharib Hashmi
The Family Man directors: Krishna DK and Raj Nidimoru
The Family Man rating: Three stars
Have you ever wondered what super spies and agents eat? What do they wear when they are not on an off-the-books mission? What do they tell their spouse when they are at an undisclosed location and can’t be home for dinner? Amazon Prime Video’s The Family Man answers all these questions and more. Set in Mumbai, at a fictitious intelligence agency TASC, The Family Man takes us into the world of Srikant Tiwari, played flawlessly by Manoj Bajpayee, who apart from being an ace intelligence officer, is also a dad struggling with a teenage daughter, and a marriage that has taken its toll over the past 15 years. And yes, there is a home loan waiting to be configured, in the same breath as Tiwari breaks the code for an impending terror threat.
The show begins in the serene blue waters of the Arabian Sea, where a boat has been apprehended by the Coast Guard, and we meet with some former ISIS recruits who are on the run. Hints are collated and evidence is gathered which overwhelmingly point to an impending terror attack on India. From there begins the cat-and-mouse chase, where Srikant and his team gather intelligence through surveillance, phone tapping and good-old-fashioned analysis. The chase takes us to Kashmir, Quetta, Balochistan and then New Delhi.
The Family Man tries to weave in international and national geopolitical and current happenings in the show. The origins of an ISIS recruit from Kerala are traced to the Godhra riots of 2002. The chase also takes us to Kashmir where the plight of the average Kashmiri is also addressed. As a vital final piece of the puzzle, ISIS Daesh and its nexus with fringe militant elements of Pakistan is also established. The tagline of the show is ‘Inspired From Daily News Stories’ and if by any miracle, you have missed out on what’s happening around us, this show will provide a Cliff Notes version. Gaurakshaks, lynchings, beef controversy, imposition of Hindi (the show’s writers might have been ahead of the curve on that one), anti-nationals, all this is woven in seamlessly into the narrative.
The performances by Manoj Bajpayee and Sharib Hashmi are stellar as are the dialogues. ‘Privacy like democracy is a myth’, says an eager Talpade (Hashmi) to a new recruit at TASC. Kudos to Sumit Arora, the dialogue writer, who has made intense topics, conversational not preachy. The humour is embedded, and Arora seems to be carrying forward the legacy of the directors who gave us the brilliant Stree last year.
The show has bent over backwards to humanise almost everyone, even the bad guy. It’s interesting to see the hero grappling with a new world order, where a ‘sarkari naukri’ is synonymous with being a loser, as he cannot keep with the cool quotient of his kids. The origin story of our bad guy, though a tad simplistic, is refreshing in its approach. We would have liked a bit more about Srikant Tiwari — how did he land up in TASC? How did he end up marrying his wife? After the initial fumbles in the first three episodes, the show is fluid in its narrative. The season ends on a cliff-hanger, and we can’t wait to know if Tiwari finally secures his home loan.