Interview: Manoj Bajpayee on third part of The Family Man, Samantha & more

The National Award-winning actor said it is "touching" that the series is not known for being just a one-man show

It has been only two days since the second season of The Family Man started streaming and series lead Manoj Bajpayee says fans have already started “demanding” the third chapter.

Created by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK, the new season of the espionage action thriller series released on Friday after a lot of wait amid the controversy around Amazon’s shows Tandav and Mirzapur.

While season two finale of The Family Man drops more than a hint about the potential renewal, Bajpayee, who plays Srikant Tiwari, an intelligence officer trying to balance his personal and professional life on the show, said he has no idea how the story will progress if there is a third part.

“There’s a lot of work that goes into making a season. I will be very happy if Amazon, and Raj and DK decide to do a season three but before that, the writing has to be complete. All the formalities need to be finished. I’m ecstatic that people have started demanding season three,” the actor said.

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“What all season three will have, I myself don’t know. I’m waiting for the script to come to me,” he added. With mostly positive reviews coming their way, the team of The Family Man has seemed to have achieved the impossible: delivered a better season two. Bajpayee, who won his maiden best actor National Award for Bhonsle earlier this year, is in a happy space for more than one reason.

“Season one was considered classic and cult in its own way and it created a franchise. After this, Raj and DK are regarded as one of the best minds in the industry. Suparn Verma, who joined the directors and writers, is a very close friend of mine. He has got his due with the second season. I must congratulate writers Suman and Manoj. These guys are pure geniuses,” the 52-year-old actor said in an interview with PTI.

The Family Man, playing on Amazon, also stars Sharib Hashmi, Priyamani, Shreya Dhanwanthary, Sunny Hinduja, Shahab Ali, Ashlesha Thakur and Vedant Sinha. Bajpayee, who continues to be at the top of his game in his 27-year-long acting career, said it is “touching” that the series is not known for being just a one-man show.

“Sharib’s success with this new season truly touches my soul. I want him to do very well. His success is like my success. All these actors like Shahab who played Sajid. Shreya had already become a big star after season one and then Scam 1992 came. I see Sunny who is Sandeep bhaiya in Aspirants and then Milind in this show and Priyamani, Ashlesha and Vedant… Their success is far more touching to me than me being talked about.”

The second season marks the digital debut of actress Samantha Akkineni, as Raji, who goes toe-to-toe with Bajpayee’s Srikant as his new and powerful adversary. “Samantha is such a huge star. She doesn’t need anybody to validate her work but she comes in and she contributes so much to the show,” Bajpayee said praising his co-star.

Over two seasons, the team has become a family, which like every other brood, has its own WhatsApp group that keeps buzzing, he said. “Now we are a family. Every day we are constantly in touch with each other. There is a Family Man group on WhatsApp. I don’t go there quite often as I really can’t type. But this is the way it is. We are happier for each other than for ourselves. This is the atmosphere not only on the set, but also (off-camera) as we keep checking on each other.”

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Be it Srikant reciting the iconic Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikandar dialogue with expletives or being schooled by a younger and hyper new boss in the trailer of the sophomore season, Bajpayee has been garnering praise for his comic timing, a less explored side of his persona in the movies.

The Aligarh actor, however, said he was simply being true to the character. Citing his memorable roles like Bhikhu Mhatre in Satya and Sardar Khan in Gangs of Wasseypur, Bajpayee said the audience found these parts “quite hilarious”.

“Similarly when I am playing Srikant, people get these moments coming from his behaviour. But I’m not trying to make you laugh, I am putting the character in that situation, exploring his thought process and his responses. I am interested in getting the character to you in the most intelligent and honest way. When you look at the situation from a distance, it is hilarious. But at the same time, for those people who are living it, it is troublesome,” he added.

On one level, The Family Man is a face-off between the “good guys” and “bad guys”, but the show also attempts to blur this line between the two, through wholesome characters, Bajpayee said.

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“We are so influenced by the mainstream cinema that we look at villains as dark (people). I think Ram Gopal Varma, Shekhar Kapur, Mani Ratnam have broken this stereotype and after them, directors like Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar (Banerjee) have looked at characters in a human way. They tried to touch upon their story from their perspective.”

There is a collision between the two worlds in which these characters live, he said.

“So it is as much as Srikant Tiwari’s series as it is Raji’s. Like the first season was as much Srikants as it was Moosa’s (played by Neeraj Madhav). How directors or writers tell a story or create characters and the world they inhabit, makes all the difference.”

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