Ahead of Family Man Season 2, the controversies and clarifications

Before the release of Manoj Bajpayee led web series The Family Man 2, we look at the controversy that has surrounded the Prime Video series so far.

In the first season of the Amazon Prime Video series The Family Man, creators Raj and DK presented the story of a middle-class family man who is also a world-class spy, Srikant Tiwari, ably portrayed by Manoj Bajpayee. But, they didn’t restrict the narrative to the life of the undercover intelligence agent on and off the field. They also explored the roots of Islamist terrorism and the geopolitical situation of Kashmir. They made a bold choice of showcasing the lack of trust between law enforcement agencies and the people in the Valley.

In one of the scenes, Srikant’s Kashmiri colleague Saloni (Gul Panag) told him about how the security establishment uses politics as an excuse to shut down basic facilities like the internet, and phone lines for the local. The scene landed the creators in trouble after the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sanghnew (RSS) accused the series of presenting the Indian army in a negative light. Through its magazine, Panchjanya, it called the content of the series a form of anti-nationalism and jihad, The Hindu reported.

Just like the previous season, the upcoming season of the hit web series has picked up a poignant issue of the Eelam Tamils. In the trailer of the series, we see Samantha Akkineni essaying the role of Raji, a rebel, who has an ulterior motive against the government and Srikant Tiwari is out to stop her from leading the anti-establishment force.

However, just like season one, the creators have drawn flak for being courageous enough to pick up a subject that is considered risky by many.

What is the controversy around The Family Man 2?

Rajya Sabha member and MDMK leader Vaiko wrote a letter to the Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar on May 19 to stop the broadcast of the show. He alleged it shows Tamilians in a negative light. As per Vaiko, the show depicted “Tamilians as terrorists and ISI Agents and having link with Pakistan.” An excerpt of his letter read, “These descriptions have hurt the sentiments of Tamil people and Tamil culture and offensive against the Tamil community. The people of Tamil Nadu are raising serious objections over such act and are protesting against the Serial.”

Who else is objecting?

Naam Tamilar Katchi leader Seeman had also demanded a ban on The Family Man 2 for “intentionally portraying the LTTE as terrorists and Tamils as vicious people”. He tweeted his concerns and also alleged that its story being set in Chennai was no coincidence.

Later, the Tamil Nadu government objected to the series, and claimed the Raj and DK show ‘depicts the Eelam Tamils in a highly objectionable manner’. In a letter to I&B minister Prakash Javadekar, the Tamil Nadu Minister T Mano Thangaraj stated, “I would like to bring to your notice about the condemnable, inappropriate and malicious contents of The Family Man 2 serial in Hindi, which depicts the Eelam Tamils in a highly objectionable manner. The trailer of the above said serial which was released in the social media network is aimed at discrediting and distorting the historical struggle of Eelam Tamils in Sri Lanka.”

In another part of the two-page letter, the state government also objected to the casting of Tamil actor Samantha Akkineni as a terrorist. “Branding Tamil-speaking actress Samantha as terrorist in the serial is directly an attack on the pride of Tamils living around the world and no one will tolerate this kind of motivated and mischievous campaign,” the letter read.

How did the show directors Raj and DK react to requests for a ban on The Family Man 2?

Noting that some assumptions have been made about their much ahead of its release, only on the basis of a few shots in the trailer, directors Raj and DK released a statement. The statement read, “Some assumptions and impressions have been made based on just a couple of shots in the trailer. Many of our lead cast members, as well as key members of the creative & writing team, are Tamilians. We are very cognizant of the sentiments of the Tamil people and Tamil culture and have nothing but the utmost love and respect towards our Tamil people.”

They added, “We have put in years of hard work into this show, and we have taken great pains to bring to our audiences a sensitive, balanced, and riveting story – much like we did in Season 1 of the show. We request everyone to wait and watch the show when it releases. We know you’ll appreciate it once you watch it.”

What did Manoj Bajpayee say on the calls for a ban on the release of The Family Man 2?

In an interview with Bollywood Hungama, Manoj Bajpayee emphasised how the show has been created by a team dominated by Tamilians, including directors, Raj and DK, actors Priyamani and Samantha Akkineni, and writer Suman, who have great regard for the Tamil culture. He said, “The team leaders of this show are mostly Tamilians, Raj and DK, Samantha, Priyamani, Suman (writer), who can be a better person than these guys to safeguard the interests of Tamil people. They are the people who have been leading the show and have created the show. They have done everything possible to show their respect for Tamil culture and sensibilities. This is one series which believes in diversity. It not only tells you a good story but it also shows how proud the makers are of Tamil culture and sensibilities.”

The Family Man 2 starts streaming on Amazon Prime Video on June 4.

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