The Family Man does not promise to bring anything extraordinary to the genre. Like every espionage, there is this one hero vs some anti-national elements, both working on and against a certain ‘operation’ which is always supposed to be ‘the biggest ever’. Having said that, Family man stands competent in handling the socio- geo-political explication and summarize it in a fairly gripping 10 episode series.
Manoj Bajpayee plays the title character of The Family Man ‘Srikant’, an undercover agent who passes himself off as a regular ‘file-pushing’ government official. Juggling between his family duties and staying ahead of threats to the nation, Bajpayee moves between his loser self and achiever self with an inherent common-man-ness. His wife and children’s view of him is built on the lame lies he weaves in everyday to hide his official identity.
The first two episodes are slightly sluggish but if you stay patient with the context, action starts unfolding from the third episode on ward. From here on, The Family Man stays true to its tagline- ‘Inspired from Daily news stories’. Credit scenes after each episode show you headline snapshots ranging from Islamic radicalization, cow vigilantism, mob lynching to some historic disasters which are spread across and relevantly used in bringing together the whole narrative.
From 3rd to 9th episode the series goes through multiple highs and lows. There are instances where logic is defied for the sake of thrill. Also some major inputs or revelations are simply narrated by characters (mostly Manoj Bajpayee) instead of being intertwined in the story. As if only our hero knows the who’s who of terrorists, the wanted lists, diplomats etc. Yes, there is also Gul Panag as his CO who appears to explain and stand for the whole geopolitical situation of Kashmir in a quick 5 min scene. Meanwhile, there are few genuinely ‘nerve on edge’ boiling points in the story that are commendably executed. What Family man excels in, is the smaller moments. Moments of subtlety where the chase and run nail-biting pace runs in tandem with the emotional household pace of the parallel plot.
True to the title Vajpayee is kept considerably human who makes several mistakes (questionable no of times). The veteran actor sinks his teeth into the character and keeps us empathetic towards his every struggle. Priyamani as Suchitra has her own graph that takes time, but does rise to its potential virtually. The two kids are a joy to watch and the source for innocent humor between all the drama. The overall casting is again one of the reasons why Family man keeps peeking up despite its flaws. Neeraj Madhav as Moosa is a surprise package and a pleasant one.
Some parallel stories are left midway, is it ignorance or hint for season 2, not sure. Taking one away for a disappointing season finale, another half for initial pace. Going with 3.5 out 5 cutting for this binge-worthy series.