Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Samantha Akkineni, Sharib Hashmi, Priyamani, Sharad Kelkar, Sunny Hinduja and ensemble.
Creator: Raj Nidimoru & Krishna DK
Director: Raj Nidimoru, Krishna DK & Suparn Varma
Streaming On: Amazon Prime Video
The Family Man 2 Review: What’s It About:
If you are here without watching the first season, I would suggest head back. Delhi was on the verge of a gas attack by the end. Milind (Sunny Hinduja) and Zoya (Shreya Dhanwanthray) were stuck in the chemical factory. And what happened in the room in Lonavala stands to be the biggest mystery. Season 2 begins on the same note. Regret has led to Srikant Tiwari leave his job with the NIA and is now working in an IT company.
In the lands not so far away, the Tamil Government in exile plans to take revenge, and NIA is at the forefront of this new war to save PM Basu (Seema Biswas). Srikant has to get back as Raji (Samantha Akkineni), the face of the baddies, is not an average joe, as they say. Begins the quest of The Family Man!
The Family Man 2 Review: What Works:
Now, I am neither scholar in politics nor an expert in especially the Tamillian conflict here. So my review is that about the fictional story that Raj and DK have to tell with all honesty. To take ahead a show as massive as The Family Man, it must take a village. And in season 2, the village is expanded. We enter the lives of already existing characters in the universe while they are facing the aftermath of what happened in the season 1 finale.
Appreciate me for the fact that I am writing this review without a single spoiler, but I might end up telling you what happened in Lonavala by the end. First, the fact that creators Raj & DK were ready with the content of season 2 while filming season 1, is a winner. Unlike many other shows that end up going against their tonality in follow up seasons, The Family Man stays afloat on the same surface successfully. The universe is expanding more horizontally than vertically. This has also led to a drawback, but about that later.
The scale has, of course, gone up, and the pressure is too high. While season 1 was more compact in its approach, season 2 is spread wider. As writers, the team, including Raj Nidimoru, Krishna DK, Suman Kumar and Suparn Varma, must have faced the biggest trouble in connecting the antagonist to the NIA, and it is a very soft spot considering the real times. The writing makes sure that it reflects that the routes these people have taken are wrong, but the struggles and sufferings they have met aren’t something we should ignore. It is oppression and domination that creates monsters that someday come for the oppressors. We are reminded that at equal intervals.
The writing gets interesting every time the two leads (Manoj and Samantha) cross paths. By now, we know what mastery the two creators have achieved in conceptualising the cat and mouse chase story. It isn’t that the mouse is caught only by the end once, and that thrilling habit still prevails. God, it’s so difficult to not give out spoilers! A scene which has Raji and Srikant converse is such a treat and what follows is a punch in the gut. Credit to amazing actors and the team behind them.
The screenplay is woke and alert about the times it is set in. For example, Srikant’s daughter Dhriti being a pseudo intellect, or the rest of the country’s ignorance towards the South of India and a nod to WhatsApp forwards that suggest you keep your drenched phone in a rice container. Each character is layered, and no one is left one tone. Also, thank god, Tamillians talk in Tamil without the stress of the audience understanding it or not. It’s time we embrace subtitles. Cross-pollination of cultures is the need of the hour.
Talking of actors, Manoj Bajpayee reprising his NIA agent who can lie on the drop of a hat, a dotting father and a brutal officer continues to be his dashing self. The difference is that he isn’t hiding his identity as much as season 1. Bajpayee has now completely marinated himself as Srikant and he even breathes like the character. Watch his juggle between two lives when a closed one is hurt. See if you can find Manoj in any bit of it.
Someone has to tell Samantha Akkineni that she is a precious actor and we deserve her on screen. Samantha’s Raji has not just faced brutality at the hands of Sri Lankan soldiers but has also faced abuse by the men in day to day life. Men trying to get into bed with her in her workplace, or a random stranger trying to touch her inappropriately on a local bus. So you see, the angst is not only against the Indian/Sri Lankan Governments, but also the patriarchy, male oppression and society at large. The actor literally embodies all of that suffering and wears it.
We are introduced to her like a dumb person with no expressions. But slowly, she unfolds, and you see the darkest side of her existence. There is a reason why she is expressionless. Because she has seen the most brutal side of life at a tender age. Nothing moves her anymore, not even the happiest news. To emote her emotions, Akkineni does the smallest of the movements, and you are bound to capture them because she does it so effectively. And please give her the action star label already.
Sharib Hashmi only gets better as Talpade and is more romantic with Sri than Suchi this time around. Talking about Priyamani, she picks up where she left and compliments the show nicely. I am a fan of her accent for some reasons. Sunny Hinduja is set to break hearts again, and I am not spilling anything more.
I will not forgive myself if I do not mention DOP Cameron Eric Bryson, and his skills he has showcased in shooting the climax. Majorly one take, it seems like the camera had got a life of its own and was wildly following everything that was happening around.
Also, I could be reading too much between lines, but an observation. Sajjid is still alive and is caught at the similar location where the team had shot dead Kareem (Abrar Qazi). Seemed like a closure to the conflict to me.
The Family Man 2 Review: What Doesn’t Work:
I know many will come at me for pointing out bad in a show as good as The Family Man. But I cannot ignore the drawbacks however a big fan I am. The first and foremost is a dip the show suffers midway. A lot of it is to be blamed on the parts the show takes off to London. The weakest of the parts are always when we are taken to London and adjoining countries. The energy is pulled down almost by half and that ruins the experience a bit.
The Family Man 1 was throughout a slow-boiling broth that took its sweet time to become perfect. Season 2 also begins in a similar way. But somehow, it catches speed and doesn’t tend to slow down. To further dismay, the rush follows the climax too. Remember when Zoya ( in season 1) prayed for her life by the end minute, we were hooked. But season 2 rushed towards the end so fast that it came and went by without creating a huge impact. That was injustice to Samantha’s brilliant performance indirectly.
The Family Man 2 Review: Last Words:
There are drawbacks, but not enough to stop you from watching The Family Man 2. Watch it for a team who have put heart, soul, blood and sweat into making it. But watch it as a fictional show because it is one, and that is how it must be consumed. Oh, about Lonavala? You trust me more than you should. Watch the show for it! Also, I am in no mood to be in Srikant Tiwari’s bad books.