There is perhaps no other show or film that uses talents from across the country in the way that "The Family Man" does, say creators Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK, proud that the spy thriller allowed them to tap into the diverse culture and languages that make India a cohesive whole. The massive success of the first season added a layer of pressure but "the core" of the story remains unchanged in part two with the protagonist, an intelligence officer fronted by Manoj Bajpayee, still balancing family and country, said the director duo. This time though, "the intensity on both sides of his life is a notch higher", they added.
The second season of “The Family Man” will premiere on Amazon Prime Video on June 4. It was set for release in February but got postponed following the controversy around the streaming platform's shows "Tandav" and "Mirzapur".
According to Nidimoru and DK, who have been behind hits such as "99", "Shor in The City", "Go Goa Gone" and "Stree", the freedom to explore India’s diversity was the first thing that inspired them to make a jump to OTT.
"I don't think there has been any other film or series where such diverse talents are used from across the country. That's the greatness of our country, its richness in talent and culture with a mix of such diverse languages. The show gave us an opportunity to tap into it," Nidimoru said.
"We were excited about mixing up the languages and picking the people for that particular language. Like Moosa, played by Neeraj Madhav, is a Malayali actor coming and playing a Malayali character. You are not hiding the accents. Priyamani who is playing Suchitra has a bit of Tamil accent and we aren't coaching her to speak more Hindi."
DK said the series shows the diversity of India’s south and the north and how "we all are part of a big nation".
"Otherwise, our favourite joke is that everybody to the south of the Vindhya's is a Madrasi and everybody to the north of it is a Punjabi. But no, there are distinct states and there are differences and there are similarities and we are a cohesive whole as a nation," he added.
Season two, spread over nine episodes, will see Bajpayee's Srikant Tiwari pitted against a new and powerful adversary, Raaji, played by South star Samantha Akkineni.
The cast also features Sharib Hashmi, Seema Biswas, Darshan Kumar, Sharad Kelkar, Sunny Hinduja, Shreya Dhanwantary, Shahab Ali, Vedant Sinha, and Mahek Thakur, Mime Gopi, Ravindra Vijay, Devadarshini Chetan, Anandsami, and N. Alagamperumal.
The first season ended on a cliffhanger with Tiwari realising his mission to nab the mastermind of a terrorist organisation is far from over even as his family life comes apart. DK said the show allowed them to create strong female characters.
"We always like to create strong characters and strong female characters whenever possible, if the subject or the milieu allowed for it. I'm super happy we could create, not one, not two but three strong female characters in season two… You might almost say that the women in the show stand out more than the men, and I think that's a great thing for any series or a film."
Nidimoru said the title of their show “The Family Man” was very deliberate. “We could have called the show ‘Agent Srikant’ but the idea is about 'The Family Man', so the core of it is that he is balancing the family and the country."
His partner added that an Indian spy can't be similar to what is shown in Bond movies or other western stories. "When you make a spy show in India, let's all be real here, he's going to be a government employee right. He's not going to go around jet-setting and vacationing in the Maldives with babes around. He's probably going to be living in Chembur (Mumbai), dropping his kids to school and doing a government job, that's where it all started," DK said.
The perception around government jobs helped the directors flesh out the finer details of the story. "Nobody thinks you're doing a good job and even if you're working very hard, and especially in a job like this, you're probably risking your life to protect everybody else but the appreciation is probably minimal. Nobody really appreciates the kind of job Srikant Tiwari does… that was the basis of it," DK said.
DK and Nidimoru are among the first successful filmmakers from the industry to transition to a streaming platform and said they are happy they made the switch. Could they have made two films in the time they worked on the series? "It's exactly the same number of films we gave up to do the series. We said no we should focus on a series. We've been wanting to make the long format for a while because that's what you're consuming, that's what everybody is consuming," Nidimoru said.
The first season of the “The Family Man” premiered in September 2019 on Amazon Prime Video and became an instant hit.