How does one describe an-edge-of-the-seat-thriller, that is intense from start to finish, has more than a twist to offer every ten minutes and a set of developments that invariably compel you to keep moving on to the next episode without so much as taking a break?
For want of a better word, I’d term it outstanding!
Now, that is exactly how I would describe the Family Man 2 series if I bought the theory that this was just another imaginary series, bearing no resemblance to any entity or person, living or dead.
However, I’m afraid, it isn’t as simple as that for some characters in the series bear a striking resemblance to some people who lived and some people who continue to live to this day.
For the time being, let us ignore that.
Let me first give you a synopsis of Family Man 2 and then, we’ll get to the pros and cons of the series.
Family Man 2 is, without an inkling of doubt, a well-packaged, engaging story that moves at a blistering pace so much so that it is frighteningly close to making one get addicted to it.
The hero of the story, Srikant Tiwari (Manoj Bajpayee), has quit the elite TASC force, his dream job, to take up a job in the corporate sector in a bid to please his wife Suchi(Priyamani).
Like most sane, self-respecting people who find the mundane practices of the corporate world to be boring at best and depressing at worst, Tiwari too finds the job to be a draining, unfulfilling exercise. But he continues to drag himself to work for a year, in the hope that his excruciating effort will win him some brownie points from his clever wife, who likes to keep the equation between them in such a way that she always gets to play the victim. His wife is only part of the problem on the home front. His teenaged daughter, who is fast growing up to be a feminazi, adds to his list of worries.
What makes Tiwari’s life more miserable than the job itself is the fact that he has to report to a narcissistic, ambitious, insensitive young boss with an inflated ego.
While Tiwari is giving it his best shot by practising patience and forcing himself to like his job for the sake of his wife and kids, his wife is busy making a decision between continuing to live with him and moving out of the relationship.
The pressure is too great and one day, a confrontation ensues between both partners. The face off makes Tiwari erupt and he decides to kiss his corporate job good bye and go back to what he loves doing most — being in the service of the nation.
He is welcomed with open arms at the TASC, which is now looking to combat a different kind of challenge in the southern most tip of the country.
While Tiwari was busy in the corporate world, one of three top Tamil leaders who escaped the final brutal, inhuman onslaught that was carried out by the Sri Lankan army on Tamils in the island nation of Sri Lanka in 2009, has returned to Chennai to meet up with politicians from the state in a bid to secure India’s support to their rightful claim of being a government in exile.
The poor man however does not know that Indian and Sri Lankan politicians have already struck a deal over him. Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI, which is always looking to create problems, sneaks in and plays a dirty little game which puts the Indian government in the dock.
The developments that follow trigger a fierce backlash, which threatens the top premier of India. How Tiwari and his unit handle the challenge is what Family Man 2 is all about.
The star of the sequel, without doubt, is Samantha, who plays Raji, a Tamil militant waiting to lay down her life for the cause of the Tamil land. This is easily Samantha’s best performance until now and she showcases two completely different facets, each complex, unique and beautiful in its own way.
One moment, she comes across as a single woman, patiently putting up with several instances of molestation and harrassment both on her way to work and and at work for a bigger cause, and in the next, she transforms into a true-blue commando, well trained in martial arts, capable of not just delivering death but doing it in a deft manner, with practised precision and consummate ease.
Be it the molestation scene in the bus in which she has entered unexplored territory or the action sequences, Samantha is exemplary. She looks every bit lean, mean and capable of doing what every trained commando can do.
Her expressions and body language are perfect and communicate in the strongest possible terms her passion for her mission. Her dialogue delivery is apt. In all, this is one hell of a performance.
Priyamani as Suchi is impressive as well. Confident at times, filled with guilt at others, Priyamani displays multiple shades in minutes. She handles with commendable ease, both parts of her role – as a homemaker who is disillusioned with herself and life and as a working professional, who is slowly finding her feet in the firm that she once helped build. In every scene that she appears with Manoj Bajpayee, she seems to outclass him.
Devadarshini as a police officer with the Tamil Nadu police has played a character that she has never attempted before. A gifted actress, who has the potential to handle any role that comes her way with confidence, Devadarshini plays her part convincingly.
Manoj Bajpayee as Srikant Tiwari comes up with a fine performance. But sadly, his character appears weak, indecisive and rattled on quite a few occasions in this sequel. Directors Raj and DK, in their eagerness to portray women characters strong, have had to make his character appear weak in contrast to theirs. Therefore, by the time the nine episodes of the series finish, you have no doubt in your mind as to who’s owned the series.
Mime Gopi as Tamil leader Bhaskaran pulls off a convincing performance as does Azhagam Perumal, who plays one of the Tamil leaders looking to gain recognition for the Tamil government from the international community.
So, what doesn’t work in the series?
Showcasing the Indian Prime Minister as someone who does not care about the overwhelming sentiments and feelings of the people of an entire state comes across as being unfair to the Indian PM and does little to strengthen the cause of federalism.
Directors DK and Raj might claim that they have done nothing to hurt the sentiments of Tamils. But the manner in which Tamil politicians have been shown is just appalling. There is a sequence in one of the episodes in which a Tamil leader meets one of the rebel leaders in Chennai. In this sequence, the Tamil leader is shown more like a puppet of the rebels, willing to carry out their wishes with regard to passing resolutions in the Indian Parliament!
What is even more hurtful is showing Tamil rebel leaders joining hands with Pakistan’s ISI! The directors might claim that this is just a figment of their imagination but what it could do is that it could dent a real legitimate diplomatic campaign that has been going on for several years to get Sri Lanka punished for its inhuman war crimes against Tamils.
There is a good chance that people who have never been to Tamil Nadu might, after watching Family Man 2, get the impression that the state is full of molestors, lusting for sex.
From the molestor on the bus to Samantha’s boss at the mill to the Excise department official who lets the rebels pass to the bystander who picks the pocket of a NIA official lying wounded on the field, men in Tamil Nadu are shown in poor light.
NIA officials with The Tamil Nadu division and the Tamil Nadu police are shown as being inefficient, slow and incompetent as compared to the police forces in Maharashtra or the RPF, which seem to be more proactive in the series.
In short, if you look at The Family Man 2 as just a figment of imagination, you are likely to enjoy it. But, that is going to be difficult for people who are well aware of the inhuman manner in which the Sri Lankan army butchered innocent Tamil civilians in the war on the island nation.