family man review

Manoj Bajpayee and Priya Mani as Shrikant Tiwari, the family man, and his now-troubled yet beautiful and conscientious wife (and mother to two lovable kids) Suchi, in “The Family Man 2.” (trailer grab)

“The Family Man Season 2” proves several filmmaking fundamentals: one, that great series or cinema happens and cannot be designed, as this season, already shot almost alongside the original first season in 2019, is actually leagues ahead. Two, a team completely in command ensures that everything falls in the right place, from the pace to the characters to the action to the performances. The two directorial entities (Raj & DK and Suparn S. Verma) keep the tone perfectly even, just like it happened with another outstanding espionage series, “Special Ops” last year.

Three, the end is not a washout or a spoilsport but a finite end, while yet leaving openings for another season, a la “Special Ops” again. And this opening to Season 3 is truly intriguing—we have the Chinese conspiring against India after the ISI-Pakistan setup in Season 1 and the ISI connection with Tamil rebels of Sri Lanka here. With Pakistani Major Sameer (Darshan Kumaar) frustrated by the Indians twice, it will be interesting to watch how he collaborates with the Chinese—the other troublesome neighbor our country has.

Four and not the least, the emotions are firmly in place—for Indians and probably the globe, this is a cinematic compulsion for action to work on a big scale.

“TFSS2” cannot be faulted on any score: be it the plot, which logically follows from Season 1 (which I always thought was just a little above-average), the real-life base, the superb editing (Sumit Kotian), the amazing camerawork (Cameron Eric Bryson) and VFX as well as, above all, the action (Ejaz Gulab, Yannick Ben) and the absolutely fantastic background score (Ketan Sodha) and evocative title-music (Sachin-Jigar, who have also contributed a song).

The best part of this series is its natural use of languages—both the Indians from Chennai et al and the Sri Lankan rebels talk in Tamil, and Hindi, Urdu and English are also used naturally. For those who cannot comprehend, of course we have the subtitles, in which the language can be chosen. But in effect, it enhances the appeal of the series, including the atmosphere of menace.

The plot goes like this. Sri Lankan rebels Bhaskaran and brother Subbu (Srikrishna Dayal) and their associate Deepan escape from Sri Lanka, with Subbu moving to India’s Chennai, while the other two set base in London. The Sri Lankan government requests Indian PM Basu (Seema Biswas) to capture Subbu and hand him over, pressurizing her as she wishes to set up a military base in their country.

The covert agency TASC is summoned for the purpose and moves to Chennai to nab Subbu, headed by J.K. Talpade (Sharib Hashmi). However, their ace member Srikant, due to the fallout of a development in Season 1, has left them and moved, for his family’s sake as well, to a corporate 9 to 5 job. But he hates his new assignment and misses his old work. His wife too has left her previous job and is now a (disturbed) homemaker, also taking help of a counselor to sort her issues and mental state.

Subbu is nabbed with difficulty by Talpade and team, aided by some telephonic guidance by Srikant, and a deal is struck between Sri Lanka and India. A summit meeting of sorts is organized between the Indian and Sri Lankan PM Rupatunga (Abhishek Shankar). Meanwhile, the ISI steps in and kills Subbu on his way to the court to incite trouble, as he is on trial for killing many police officers in an escape bid. This is done by Sajid, under instructions from his boss Major Sameer.

Bhaskaran is both devastated and furious and summons his ace team of rebels to plan a retaliation—killing Basu and Rupatunga at the meeting. The rebels will be led by Raji (Samantha Akkineni) and Sajid will also be a part of the team.

Meanwhile, Srikant has quit his new job and rejoined TASC, and he is at the forefront of the team to prevent this, as intelligence has warned them of Bhaskaran’s moves. But even before that, his daughter is being targeted with a boyfriend, Salman, posing as the soft and charming Kalyan.

The able directors (the main ones, Raj & DK, really excel again after “Go Goa Gone”—the 2013 film, while Suparn S. Verma gets his first success after directing some flop movies) extract good to great performances from all, thanks also to superb writing.

And the especially remarkable turns among them, especially since their roles are shorter, come from Devidarshini Chetan as Inspector Umayal of the Chennai police, Uday Mahesh as Chellam, Kaustubh Kumar as Srikant’s tech boss, the late Asif Basra as a counselor, J. Perumal as Jebaraj and Prakash Rajan as Nandhaa. The actor playing Salman (Abhay Verma)’s father is also impressive.

This obviously means that the major role players are all outstanding—sans exceptions. Manoj Bajpayee and Priya Mani as Shrikant Tiwari, the family man, and his now-troubled yet beautiful and conscientious wife (and mother to two lovable kids) Suchi, Sharib Hashmi as J.K. Talpade, Abhay Verma, a new find, as Kalyan a.k.a. Salman, Ravindra Vijay as Muthu Pandian, Shahab Ali as Sajid, Mime Gopi as Bhaskaran, Azhagam Perumal as Deepan, Sharad Kelkar as Arvind, Ashlesha Thakur and Vedant Thakur as the Tiwari kids, and Anandsami as Selvarasan are all special.

Seema Biswas as PM Basu and her team, comprising Dalip Tahil, Vipin Sharma and Pawan Chopra also do their respective but routine roles smoothly.

And if we have kept one of the series’ best things till the last, it is with a purpose: Samantha Akkineni is just fantastic as Raji, the rebel with a (humongous) cause. She is incredible as the harassed woman at work in a plant, the ruthless fighter and the thoroughly passionate, selfless and dedicated woman of many secret talents. The series is replete with multiple highs in sequences and most of the tallest highs feature her, like her bedroom scene with her boss, her illness sequence, her interrogation and more. This is one explosive debut.

Don’t miss this thrilling series for anything.

Rating: *****

Amazon Prime Video presents D2R Productions’ ‘Family Man 2’

Produced by: Raj & DK

Directed by: Raj & DK, Suparn S. Verma

Written by: Raj & DK, Suman Kumar, Sumit Arora, Suparn S. Verma, Manoj Kumar Kalaivanan (Tamil)

Music: Ketan Sodha & title-music by Sachin-Jigar

Starring: Manoj Bajpayee, Priya Mani, Samantha Akkineni, Sharib Hashmi, Vedant Sinha, Ashlesha Thakur, Pawan Chopra, Sharad Kelkar, Milind Hinduja, Shweta Dhanwantary, Darshan Kumaar, Shahab Ali, Vijay Vikram Singh, Dalip Tahil, Aritro Rudraneil Banerjee, Ravindra Vijay, Devadarshini Chetan, Mime Gopi, Azhagam Perumal, Anandsami, Abhay Verma, Kaustubh Kumar, Asif Basra, Seema Biswas, Abhishek Shankar, Uday Mahesh, Vipin Sharma, M. Ranjith, Tawhid Rike Zaman, Suparn S. Verma, Krishna D.K., Srikrishna Dayal, Rajesh Balachandiran, Prakash Rajan, J. Perumal, Shruti Bisht, Sohaila Kapur & others

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