In 2015, TVF Pitchers opened the Indian audience, at large, to the idea of web series while giving working millennials the ultimate catchphrase, "tu beer hai". Since then, multiple web series, and their dialogues, have captured our interest.
But The Family Man, on Amazon Prime Video, has to be one of the finest, most entertaining Indian web series ever made. Here's why:
1. A unique storyline.
When we think of spies, we imagine sleek gadgets, fast cars, and international conspiracies. In short, we imagine a world far removed from our daily existence. But The Family Man brought us the story of a spy who was every bit like a desi father. And in doing so, Raj and DK brought novelty to even the over-exploited genre of spy dramas.
2. A stellar star cast headed by the talented Manoj Bajpayee.
Manoj Bajpayee is one of the finest actors of our generation, but the casting team for The Family Man deserves complete credit for building a truly brilliant ensemble cast. From Darshan Kumar to Samantha Akkineni, Vedant Sinha to Neeraj Madhav, the star cast across both seasons was a joy to watch on-screen.
Even the actors cast for comparatively smaller roles, like Abhay Verma (Salman), Umayal (Devadarshini), or Chellam sir (Uday Mahesh), left a lasting impression with their performances.
3. The violence isn't gratuitous, and the swear words are not added unnecessarily.
One of the most common criticisms that Indian web series have encountered is the excessive use of foul language and graphic violence, especially in action-dramas, to hook the audience's interests. And while we're all for authenticity, there is a thin line separating reality from vulgarity. The Family Man toes the line with aplomb.
4. Well-developed characters.
It is truly rare to see web series afford each character, major or minor, a proper arc but The Family Man nails the character development. Whether it's focusing on Dhriti's unfounded but all too common teenage angst, bringing our JK's unflinching loyalty and humility, or highlighting Suchi's frustration with the never-ending lies, the show's writing team ensured every character was properly fleshed out.
5. Showcasing South India, without stereotyping or caricaturing the community.
Most mainstream movies and shows tend to stereotype communities, and often resort to using offensive, running gags about a community. And thus, the representation of South India and the South Indian community on the show feels refreshing and honest. The also show does not shy away from exposing North Indians' ignorance when it comes to South India.
6. A mature take on complex topics like infidelity, terror camps, war atrocities, etc.
Barring its rather shallow take on mental health (which is actually the only major flaw in the entire series), the show can be credited for dealing with complex topics in a mature, sensitive manner. Infidelity, the cost of religious profiling, the brainwashing of kids and young adults in terror camps, political warfare - The Family Man deals with all this and more, but without resorting to tokenism.
7. Absolutely brilliant dialogues.
One of the best parts about the show has to be the dialogues. From Srikant's one-liners to Atharv's cheeky responses to Suchi's on-point remarks, the dialogues are easily the best part of the show. It's not easy to make you laugh in the middle of chasing terrorists, but The Family Man's dialogue writers, headed by Suparn Verma, manage to do it with apparent ease.
8. It is patriotic, without being jingoistic.
There is certainly no shortage of patriotic movies in India. But how many of them actually highlight the cost that patriotism exacts from our soldiers? How often do they highlight the innocents who end up becoming victims of war, for no fault of their own? It's hard to think of even one film, apart from perhaps Raazi. And that's why The Family Man deserves to be appreciated for showcasing the difficulties of the job while also highlighting how high is the cost of making a mistake.
The Family Man is certainly not the only web series to check all the boxes, so to say. Shows like Delhi Crime, Scam 1992, Aarya, and Panchayat have also set the bar high when it comes to novel storytelling and brilliant performances. But when it comes to being a mass entertainer, that appeals to people of all generations, The Family Man ranks right at the top!
All images are screenshots from Amazon Prime Video, unless specified otherwise.