Amazon Prime delivers its best original series since Made in Heaven. Manoj Bajpayee is, as always, in excellent form.
Without ever parodying the genre, The Family Man succeeds at being a surprisingly funny spy series; equally capable of snappy one-liners as it is of slick thrills. Like its street-smart protagonist, the new Amazon show is wily, adaptable, and intelligent. Family Man walks a delicate tonal tightrope, successfully shrouding its lofty ideas under the middle-class sensibilities of its hero.
But is the spy thriller worth your time? Read on as we analyze Manoj Bajpayee starrer The Family Man.
The Family Man Review- The Plot
We meet Srikant Tiwari in the middle of an argument with his long-suffering wife, Suchi (played by Priyamani). She wants him to take the kids to school, and not shirk his responsibilities as a dad. It seems as if it’s an argument they have regularly, going by the expressions on the faces of their two kids, who are distractedly eating idlis and playing with their phones, vaguely aware of how situations like this play out. Sri, much to the disappointment of his family, has settled into his government job, despite their sustained suggestion that he find a more lucrative profession.
But while this may be partially accurate — Sri is an underpaid government employee — it is far from the whole truth. In reality, while his family believes he is rotting away as some paper-pusher behind a desk, Sri is an agent at a top-secret intelligence facility named TASC, a mysterious offshoot of RAW. Their job is to conduct mass surveillance in an effort to spot patterns and prevent terrorist attacks. As Sri’s best mate explains to a rookie agent in the first episode, surrounded by large screens and state-of-the-art tech, “Privacy is myth, just like democracy.”
The Family Man Review- The Good
Effectively a workplace comedy in scenes likes this, and a domestic sitcom when Sri is at home, The Family Man is deceptively relevant as well. Using nearly all of the popular incidents of the recent past- mob lynchings, portraying students as anti-nationals, etc.- the show gives to keep you intrigued. As far as performances are concerned, none actually deserves more credit than Bajpayee, who single-handedly carried the whole show on his shoulders and kept us hooked. The Family Man is a consistently engaging show, even when you find yourself disagreeing with it. The action, particularly a slum shootout made to appear as if it has been shot in a single take, is impressively staged and Raj & DK, at long last, seem to be back in the game.
The Family Man Review- The Bad
The writing of the show, which deals with dissecting subcontinental geopolitics and themes of homegrown terrorism is… murky. I don’t know which is worse — that The Family Man insists on portraying Kashmiri youths as terrorists, or that it spends a significant amount of time on humanising said terrorists, perhaps in order to soften the blow of this gross generalisation. Too many shows and films have taken the easy route and blamed radicalisation on brainwashing, but by offering relevant socio-political context, The Family Man immediately rises above such reductive reasoning. By playing into populist beliefs — regardless of how true they may be — creators Raj and DK avoid confronting the more controversial aspects of Indian terrorism; the fact that it is not restricted to one religion. It is not a sign of confusion, but fear — in their attempt to offend neither side, they, unfortunately, end up hurting both; not to mention their show as well.
The Family Man Review- On The Whole
All in all, I feel that they’ve broached a subject that is rarely addressed in mainstream Indian entertainment. There’s a reason why even the Americans are hesitant about calling mass shooters ‘homegrown terrorists’. This distracts from their president’s stance that most threats are external. Most adversaries in The Family Man — from the Keralites who set the plot into motion to the college students who snatch the baton from their hands — are Indian. With few bumps here and there, The Family Man is an enjoyable ride. We’re going with 3.5 out of 5 stars for Amazon Prime’s new show.