Two English shows that you can’t possibly miss this season are The Family Man on Amazon Prime and Unbelievable on Netflix
I’ll tell you why.
The Family Man on Amazon Prime
They say never judge a book by its cover and isn’t that so true as we always find out. On first glimpse and the prosaic title, you’d imagine The Family Man to be a family drama that would possibly appeal to a few and be a big bore to many. So I wasn’t particularly inclined to watch it, given that I have a mild aversion to most English shows that are made in India. The reason being that the actors speak English very theatrically and hence their skills get snowed down under, after you witness their affectations.
This was not the case here; there is no fakeness and everybody talks like they would, in their Indian homes, in the English language. That authenticity was important. And lead actor Manoj Bajpai is brilliant in and as the family man. As an actor who has not made even one false move in his entire career, he’s a treat to watch, as the secret service agent whose double life leads to jeopardy with his family.
He charms us with his various facets; at times serious, at times downright funny and at times vulnerable and a simple, normally fucked-up guy who can’t seem to hold his family together as he chases down terrorists and other traitors all over the country. Very Indianised, you can see that patriotism runs high in this series which also shows how love for your country and dedication to it are not necessarily going to get you a cushioned life and yet such people persevere in the face of all odds.
A downward spiralling family life is the reward here as his wife, the very excellent actress Priyamani starts a covert emotional affair with her ex-colleague, the handsome and charming Sharad Kelkar; the daughter gets teenage angst; not to mention his smart-mouthed younger son who blackmails dad into giving him pizzas and ice cream in lieu of keeping shut about his father’s activities.
For fans of Bajpai, its sheer pleasure to watch him perform so effortlessly, like always. Crisply written with good screenplay though it is quite a common story and yet so entrenched in intrigue that it keeps you on the edge of the seat. The effervescent Gul Panag is the surprise package here who our man meets on his punishment posting to Srinagar. Watch!
Unbelievable on Netflix India
A young woman is raped. But nobody believes her. She’s distressed, retracts her statements many a time and most importantly there’s no proof of the crime being committed. That’s the true story of Marie Adler for you. A young teen who’s been in and out of foster homes lived with abuse and yet is trying to get on with her life. Youth is always hopeful and Marie’s story inspires.
The sad bit about nobody believing her becomes a complex issue when similar crimes occur across the country in far-flung areas and take a different turn when two gutsy women detectives step in. While I’m not indulging in gender advocacy, at least here, the fact that these detectives are women, makes it an important case for them to solve. They give it the kind of serious attention it deserves and leave no stone unturned to find the perpetrator of this horrific crime. Contrast to that the attitude of most men who all disbelieve Marie.
Finally, her story is vindicated. An excellent but at times slow elongated watch since it is very expansive. And yet these are the shows to write home about.