‘The Family Man’ is an Indian spy drama series on Amazon Prime. The story follows a secret agent as he frantically tries to juggle tracking down terrorists and maintaining the facade of an everyman in front of his family. The show is alternatingly thrilling and funny, making good use of all the interesting situations a person in that position can get into. Combined with sub-plots about his troubled marriage and an impending cross-border terrorist attack, the grounded show is the antithesis of flashy spy thrillers à la ‘James Bond.’ Is the everyman-secret agent that is the show’s protagonist and the chaotic events that surround him based on a true story? Let’s find out.
Is The Family Man Based on a True Story?
No, ‘The Family Man’ is not based on a true story. The show’s dual-sided portrayal of the protagonist as a common man and as a secret agent, combined with the backdrop of contemporary terrorism and geopolitical tensions in the subcontinent, gives the show a feeling of being based on present-day reality. However, the show is a fictional work by filmmaker duo Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K., who are the creators, producers, and directors of the show. The two also co-wrote the script with Suman Kumar.
Srikant Tiwari, the protagonist, is an agent of the Threat Analysis and Surveillance Cell, which is a fictitious branch of India’s very real National Investigation Agency (NIA). The character was partly inspired by Raj’s uncle, who was an intelligence officer. Despite the show’s fictional nature, it draws heavily on news stories and alludes to versions of many historic events and contemporary issues. The Bhopal Gas Tragedy, the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, and the rise of ISIS are just some of the issues that form the kaleidoscopic backdrop of the show.
The idea for ‘The Family Man’ came to its creators more than 2 years before it was actually made. At that time, being involved mainly in cinema, the duo realized that the scope of the story and its protagonist was too large to encompass in a two-hour plot. Hence, they waited until they could effectively present it in a longer format. In addition to the current-affairs-inspired backdrop, the exploration of Tiwari’s character was also a point of significant focus and research.
Apart from portraying his domestic life, Raj and Krishna, in the interest of authenticity, have leaned towards showing a deglamorized, realistic version of what an intelligence agent in India would be like. This means Tiwari is a government employee who is overworked, under-appreciated, and very clearly middle class, a far cry from the glamour associated with espionage.
His financial problems spill into his domestic chaos, with regular jabs like his son complaining about why they can’t get a new car. The show’s authenticity and appeal are, in large part, driven by this aspect of the protagonist. The character is also driven by Manoj Bajpayee, who essays Tiwari and brings his own experiences of fatherhood and family life into the mix.
The online streaming format of the show has also helped its creators retain creative control over the project, hence letting them utilize and portray the diversity that is characteristic of the show’s subject matter. The religious and cultural conflicts on display aside, even the cast of the show draws on the inherent diversity of the story. Many of the cast members essay characters that are of the same cultural background as them, making the cast of the show one of the most diverse compared to other similar projects.
‘The Family Man’ is an up-to-date spy thriller that takes inspiration from the complex present-day social and geopolitical scenario of India. The show’s creators have put significant effort into researching and piecing together the story and have even attempted to forecast simmering issues that can be used in future seasons of the show. Its protagonist is equally layered, and the aspect that he draws authenticity from — his grounded plain-ness and everyday domestic problems, is also what makes him such an engaging character.
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