‘The Family Man’ season 2 explores the complex web of politics and power in the Indian subcontinent. Taking inspiration from the Sri Lankan Tamil separatist movement in Northern Sri Lanka, the show explores a wide gamut of events from the gritty and violent ground level to the highest echelons of politics. Basu plays a small but crucial role in season 2, and in a way is even responsible for the highly dangerous situation that the show’s protagonist subsequently has to avert. The show’s much-discussed inspiration from real-world politics also makes us wonder whether Basu might show a likeness to an actual person. Let’s explore the character of Basu and the actress who so convincingly portrays her.
Who is Basu?
Basu is the Prime Minister of India in ‘The Family Man’ season 2. A shrewd and strong-willed politician, her character uses the murder of an enemy of the Sri Lankan administration as an opportunity to solidify her political influence and power. The bilateral talks, to be attended by her and the president of Sri Lanka, become the target of a highly complex terror plot that season 2 centers on. Despite multiple warnings from various intelligence officers and advisors, Basu refuses to cancel the summit, saying that she is not so weak-willed as to be influenced by a few rebels. The headstrong character also displays a level of political cunning that makes her appear as authentic as the actual politicians we see on the news.
Basu is essayed by the prolific and diverse Indian actress Seema Biswas. Initially known for her early role essaying the famous human rights activist Phoolan Devi in the award-winning film ‘Bandit Queen,’ the actress has since worked on multiple critically acclaimed projects that have also garnered her multiple awards. Known for the variety of roles she has competently essayed, Seema has avoided being typecast and has acted in genres ranging from horror, to biographical to romantic drama. Her craft has also seen her crossing over from mainstream Indian to regional cinema, with roles in Assamese, Malayalam, and Marathi films as well.
In her role as Prime Minister of India, Seema has been likened to channeling aspects of the political figure Mamata Banerjee, who became the 9th Chief Minister of the Indian state of West Bengal and the first woman to hold the office. Characteristics like referring to herself in the third person, as well as being headstrong which is Basu’s defining characteristic on the show, are aspects that the real world politician and Seema’s character share. Since she hails from the state of Assam, which is in the same region as West Bengal, Seema’s ethnic and linguistic portrayal of the Prime Minister also closely matches those of Banerjee.
The show is well known for its intricately crafted fictional reality, with its creators even attempting to forecast political situations that can then be used as the backdrop of the show in future seasons. The portrayal of an Indian Prime Minister that shares attributes with a real-world sitting politician helps give this season of the show its signature feel of an accurate alternate reality. Basu’s character is left ambiguous and doesn’t assume the role of a hero or a villain. Akin to reality, the powerful Prime Minister on the show is portrayed as shrewd and scheming and cares little about the lives lost and sentiments hurt in favor of larger geopolitical ambitions.
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