Meet Srikant Tiwari, a middle class man with equally middle class aspirations: buy a house in Mumbai. He is the husband and father of two children with a seemingly ‘easy’ job in the government that his daughter believes he will not quit because “I work in the government mein kuch karna nahin padta hai”. He is the man who won’t yell at you if you cut him with a sign. He is also the man who will persecute the terrorists and beat them to death to save their country; his city Mumbai; of a terrorist attack

Have you ever wondered what super spies and agents eat? What do they wear when they are not on a mission outside the books? What do they tell their spouse when they are in an undisclosed location and cannot be home for dinner? The Amazon Prime Video Family Man answers all these questions and more. Located in Mumbai, in a fictional TASC intelligence agency, The Family Man takes us to the world of Srikant Tiwari, played perfectly by Manoj Bajpayee, who besides being an ace intelligence officer, is also a father who fights with a daughter adolescent, and a marriage that has taken its toll in the last 15 years. And yes, there is a mortgage loan waiting to be set up, at the same time that Tiwari breaks the code for an imminent terrorist threat.

The show begins in the serene blue waters of the Arabian Sea, where the Coast Guard has stopped a ship, and we meet some former ISIS recruits who are fleeing. Suggestions are collected and evidence is collected that overwhelmingly points to an imminent terrorist attack against India. From there begins the chase of the cat and the mouse, where Srikant and his team gather intelligence through surveillance, telephone listening and outdated analysis. The persecution takes us to Kashmir, Quetta, Balochistan and then to New Delhi.

The Family Man tries to weave into international and national geopolitical and current events in the program. The origins of an ISIS recruit from Kerala date back to the 2002 Godhra riots. The persecution also takes us to Kashmir, where the difficult situation of the Kashmir average is also addressed. As a vital final piece of the puzzle, ISIS Daesh and its link with marginal militant elements of Pakistan are also established. The motto of the program is “Inspired by the daily news stories” and if by some miracle what is happening around us has been lost, this program will provide a version of Cliff Notes. Gaurakshaks, lynchings, beef controversy, imposition of Hindi (the writers of the program could have been ahead of the curve in that sense), anti-nationals, all this is interwoven perfectly in the narrative.

The Family Man cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Priyanami and Sharib Hashmi
The Family Man directors: Krishna DK and Raj Nidimoru
The Family Man rating: Three stars

Manoj Bajpayee and Sharib Hashmi’s performances are stellar as are the dialogues. “Privacy as democracy is a myth,” an anxious Talpade (Hashmi) tells a new recruit in TASC. Congratulations to Sumit Arora, the dialogue writer, who has made intense topics of conversation, not preaching. The humor is embedded, and Arora seems to be carrying forward the legacy of the directors who gave us the brilliant Stree last year.

The program has strived to humanize almost everyone, including the bad guy. It is interesting to see the hero deal with a new world order, where a “sarukari naukri” is synonymous with being a loser, since he cannot keep up with the great quotient of his children. The origin story of our bad guy, although a bit simplistic, is refreshing in his approach. We would have liked a little more about Srikant Tiwari, how did he get to TASC? How did he end up marrying his wife? After the initial confusion in the first three episodes, the program is fluid in its narrative. The season ends in a cliff hanger, and we can’t wait to know if Tiwari finally gets his mortgage loan.

It is not that they are pouring an exorbitant amount of money. They are not stupid. Of course, it is a business and recovering the money spent and making money on that is something that must be taken into account. Someone who is entering this space to make a web series already knows what they want to do and how they want to do it. This financial support makes it easier to give new talent a break. With that comes new perspectives and new ideas. Everything works in synergy really.


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