Review: ‘The Family Man’ – Gripping espionage thriller with humour

The poster of The Family Man is ironical and hilarious. On one side of the screen, we see the hero Srikant Tiwari (played by the flawless Manoj Bajpayee) carrying groceries dressed in a typical office-going attire while his reflection sports a jacket with gun in his hand. The Amazon web series follows the life of Srikant who faces a tough time to balance as a secret agent for the National Investigation Agency (NIA), as a father to two children and husband to a workaholic Suchitra (Priyamani).

The Family Man is perhaps one of the best Indian series made to date. It’s funny and sleek, riddled with exceptional twists and turns, powerful performance and gripping direction and writing. Srikant works on a case against terrorists who enter India through sea with an agenda to dethrone peace. Srikant is aided by his team of fellow agents played by Sharib Hashmi as JK Talpade, Shreya Dhanwanthary as Zoya, Sunny Hinduja as Milind, Dalip Tahil as Kulkarni and Pawan Chopra as Sharma. The cast is brilliant and they depict their character with ease. Neeraj Madhav as Moosa, one of the terrorist, delivers an act that is impossible to miss.

The best part of The Family Man is that it explores harsh news that often clouds channels and newspapers. As the end credits in every episode remind us that it is ‘inspired by daily events’, The Family Man isn’t shy to depict bitter realities. In ‘Anti Nationals’, we witness three students retaliate against a politician who fuels a mob to lynch Muslims suspected of carrying beef meat. We also see one of the students, who is disturbed by actions of the government and people running the system, defiant to stand for the national anthem in a theatre. Soon other theater-goers beat him up. As he is thrashed, the camera shifts its focus on the flag that gently flutters on the massive theatre screen. The directors perhaps want to tell us that people beat and incite hate speech in the name of nation and religion.

There are several long-shot sequences in the series which are as good as Alfonso Cuaron’s style adopted in Children of Men. In one episode, the NIA agents play cat and mouse game with terrorists who enter a building to help break out another militant. The sequence extends well over 13 minutes. We follow the gun-wielding fanatics getting down from a van, walk-in quietly, spread throughout the corridors, stealthily kill staffs and start a shoot out with NIA agents…all without a pause.

In another episode, we see Srikant working with Saloni (Gul Panag) in Kashmir. The depiction of the crisis plaguing this beautiful valley gives a stark reminder about the flaws that constantly affects the lives of people living here in the dark. “It is the Kashmiris caught in the crossfire in battle between militants and armed forces,” Saloni says.

And then we also see tough lives of secret cops, spies and armed forces who lay down their lives for the greater good. They are shown as ordinary folks with meager pay and living in small homes. Srikant finds it hard to communicate with his children and wife, thanks to the stress that comes along his line of work. It’s wonderfully shown how lack of communication among the couple gradually makes them to drift apart. Srikant’s constant lie and Suchi’s drive to seek a better job makes them argue a lot while the conversation with their children is bound to leave you in giggles.

In a world that witnesses violence, news of secret terror groups, capturing of militants and criminals, terror attacks, and many others, creators of The Family Man, Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK, seamlessly weave such hard news into a gripping espionage thriller with a dose of humour.

Mohammed Rayaan