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The Family Man season 2 review: Mostly engaging, partly tiring

When The Family Man season one set the bar so high, it must have been difficult for the makers to top that creation.



The Family Man

The Family Man season 2

Creators: Raj & DK

Directors: Raj & DK, Suparn Varma

Writers: Raj & DK, Suman Kumar (Screenplay), Suparn Varma (Hindi dialogue), Manoj Kumar Kalaivanan (Tamil dialogue)

Cinematography: Cameron Eric Bryson

Editing: Sumeet Kotian

Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Samantha Akkineni, Priya Mani, Sharib Hashmi

Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video

Director duo Raj & DK have a knack of making the mundane things cinematically interesting. Their filmography is proof of not repeating a movie genre. Their films Shor In The City, Go Goa Gone have received a cult status. They also have the underrated 99 and Happy Ending to their credit. Their digital debut The Family Man took the Indian OTT space by storm and enjoys a massive fan following. With The Family Man the director duo and actor Manoj Bajpayee gave us a fascinating, relatable character in Srikant Tiwari.

Bajpayee reprises his role in season 2 but as a corporate employee doing a 9 to 5 job and trying to keep his family happy. The struggle is real just like any other ‘family man or woman’. But Srikant is at heart a spy. And soon he sets on a mission to save the Indian Prime Minister Basu (Seema Biswas) from getting assassinated. The series travels from Mumbai to Chennai to Sri Lanka to London to France and back to Dombivali (a suburb on the outskirts of Mumbai).

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The series explores the conflict and politics of Sri Lankan Tamil rebels, some of whom have taken refuge in Tamil Nadu. Samantha Akkineni plays one such trained guerilla rebel, Raji. She is brainwashed, deadly and unpredictable. Samantha gives an earnest performance as Raji. There’s not much of a face-off between Raji and Srikant so there’s not much to see in terms of actors playing off each other. The only characters who get to do that are Srikant and JK (Sharib Hashmi). Their scenes with each other and other policemen/ intelligence officers are some of the best ones in the series.

Just like season one, there’s a lot happening in season two but sometimes it feels like you’re obliged to ‘binge watch’ the complete season because you liked the first one so much. After the first two episodes, the viewing experience becomes a little tiring sometimes. The series ‘kicks in’ again in the last two episodes. In spite of having such a huge conspiracy (PM’s assassination) as the main plot, the narrative doesn’t offer many thrills or chills. The only thing I wished was that it doesn’t end on a cliff-hanger like the first season. Needed a closure after almost 8 hours of binge watching.

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Cameron Bryson’s cinematography makes the experience lived-in, handheld operating captures the uncertainty and unsettling nature of the plot and characters extremely well. There are a few scenes though where there seems to be too many shots taken for a simple scene. Too much cutting (editing by Sumeet Kotian) at times was irritating, felt distanced from the characters and what they could have been going through in that given moment. The stunning background score from the first season returns improvised. The action sequences are superbly choreographed. Performance wise, all the top billed actors are in their finest elements.

The series is directed by Raj & DK and Suparn Varma. The long format of the series allows the filmmakers to use certain scenes or sequences where nothing great happens but they are worth watching. A feature film won’t allow you to do that. The Family Man season one had some wonderfully written, directed and acted scenes of such type. Season 2 doesn’t offer much in that area. At times, I wondered, is it because the first season was so brilliant that it became too difficult to top that level of creation?

Watch the trailer of The Family Man season 2:

What I liked the most of The Family Man is that it is a truly Indian series. There’s no aspiration to pull off something ‘Hollywood like’. The more local they keep it, the more universal it becomes. The multilingual narrative shot on real locations with regional actors makes for an immersive experience even though it seems to derail in parts in season two.

Of course, there’s going to be a season 3 of The Family Man. And I would be willing to watch it only because as a viewer you’re so invested in Srikant Tiwari’s character that you want to see what he takes on next. Although, what I would absolutely love to watch is a crossover between The Family Man and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. These two spies taking on a mission would make for a fabulous experience. Both shows stream on the same OTT platform, so a crossover shouldn’t be a problem.