‘The Family Man’ season 2 introduces the character of Raji as one of its many leads. The Indian series, known for its complex geopolitical backdrops that are heavily inspired by historic events, features a long roster of characters from different parts of the subcontinent. Considering the serious subject matter being treated, and in a bid for authenticity and ensuring sensitivity, the actors essaying the characters come from a similarly wide plethora of cultural backgrounds. Raji, as one of the lead characters, is most memorable and plays an integral part in the explosive finale of season 2. Let’s get to know the compelling, deeply tragic character that is Raji and the prolific actress that essays her.
Who is Raji?
Raji is a highly trained rebel commando and pilot who plays a crucial role in season 2. Having completed her training in just 6 months and touted as the best pilot in the rebel forces, Raji is handpicked to fly a plane packed with explosives into the venue hosting bilateral talks between the Indian and Sri Lankan Premiers. Her dark and tragic history, which is explored in bits and pieces throughout the show, motivates her to undertake this kamikaze-type suicide mission. Portrayed to be part of a Sri Lankan Tamil rebel group, Raji’s cultural identity plays a crucial role in her motivations. She is convincingly portrayed by Samantha Akkineni, who is well-known for her roles in South Indian cinema.
Samantha is best known for her work in the Tamil and Telugu film industries, both of which are thriving regional powerhouses of cinema. Her acting debut in the critically acclaimed Telugu film ‘Ye Maaya Chesave’ won her the Filmfare Award for Best Debut Actress. Samantha has since essayed roles in a long list of South Indian projects, most of them to critical acclaim and with many being commercial successes as well.
Samantha’s multi-regional success as an actress can partly be attributed to her similarly diverse upbringing. Having grown up in Chennai, the capital city of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, she also has Telugu and Malayali influences from her parents. Hence, the multilingual actress is at ease essaying roles from multiple ethnolinguistic cultures from the region, making her perfect for the role of Raji, who is a Sri Lankan Tamil.
For her role as the lethal rebel agent whose sole focus is revenge for the treatment meted out to her and her family during the armed conflict in Sri Lanka, Samantha researched the Eelam War and the experiences of those that lived through it. She was touched by the incredible suffering of the women present during the long-running conflict and used her role as a victim to raise awareness of the atrocities the women had to face.
In an Instagram post about her role, she explained: “I was particular about Raji’s portrayal being balanced, nuanced, and sensitive. I want Raji’s story to be a stark, much-needed reminder for us, more than ever before, to come together as humans to fight hate, oppression, and greed.”
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