Priyamani on being Suchi in ‘The Family Man’

As the independent and strong-willed Suchi, Priyamani has matched Manoj Bajpayee’s Srikant Tiwari beat for beat in The Family Man. With Season 2 of the Amazon Prime Video series opening to unanimously positive reviews,

The Telegraph caught up with the 37-year-old actor on being Suchi, sharing screen space with Manoj Bajpayee and what The Family Man has done for her career.

Congratulations for yet another stellar season of The Family Man. Is there a standout feedback that remains memorable?

Thank you so much! I have received a lot of positive response from all over, and a lot of people have also been saying that they are identifying with the character of Suchi. A lot of ladies have ben texting me and saying that Suchi is relatable… in terms of the turmoil she goes through, the communication between Suchi and Srikant (played by Manoj Bajpayee) has become a lot worse in Season 2…. As a last resort, she’s been going to a counsellor to try and save their marriage.

Suchi also has to handle (daughter) Dhriti’s (played by Ashlesha Thakur) tantrums as a teenager. Suchi’s life has many ups and downs that a lot of ladies are identifying with. That’s the best compliment I have got. It’s overwhelming to see that

Season 2 is getting as fantastic a response as Season 1.

Suchi is a woman with various shades and yet so relatable. What is it about her that resonates with you and in what ways is she different from you?

I won’t say that Suchi and I are very alike or very different. We are similar in the sense that both of us are very strong, independent women… if we want something and set our minds to it, we can definitely get it. The difference between the two of us lies in the fact that she finds it difficult to communicate with Srikant, but my husband and I communicate very well… I think communication is one of the most important things in a relationship… there has to be trust. But Suchi and I are almost alike in the way we think and are very sure in how to take the next step to take care of the family and protect them.

The screen dynamic between you and Manoj Bajpayee feels very organic. Both of you are, of course, very good actors, but how much of the chemistry that you share is studied and how much is spontaneous?

The relationship between Manoj sir and myself has grown from Season 1. I think the level of comfort we share is what you see on screen. It’s always great to work with a fabulous actor like Mr Manoj Bajpayee. With him in the same frame, you always have to be very alert and on your toes. Half the things that you see on screen are improvised. He’s not what he seems! (Laughs) As in during rehearsal, he says his lines in a different way, but when we go for the take, he says it in a completely different way, which may catch one off guard if you are not alert.

That’s what I have learnt from him in Season 1… how to catch the nuances or the small reactions that he gives…. Even after the scene is done, he continues with things that add on to the scene and make it a lot more convincing.

In hindsight, what do you think has worked for the success of The Family Man?

I think the series works because people identify with the characters. The level of comfort that you see on screen makes the characters relatable. Srikant Tiwari, right from Season 1, is known as the ‘James Bond of Chembur’ (laughs). A regular government agent is what we think he is… he travels by local train, he’s got a normal car… it’s not a fancy-schmancy car like an Audi or a Merc. Even Suchi, the kids and JK (played by Sharib Hashmi), right through both the seasons, are relatable. This is a show that has the right mix of comedy, emotion and thrill…. Generally, such kinds of series don’t have humour, but The Family Man does have a funny bone, and the humour helps to lighten situations. It has the right amount of action and drama and sentiments…. I think it’s the perfect package… the writing (by Raj & DK and Suman Kumar) is extremely gripping and keeps people hooked to the series. I would like to thank the audience for binge-watching the series so many times.

The advent of streaming platforms has blurred boundaries and made a variety of content available. How much has that benefited your career?

The OTT platforms are the ones which are getting us through this pandemic. A lot of streaming platforms have come up, and hence a lot of meaningful content is available. In a way, featuring in web series has helped actors like me to tap into a talent which probably may not have been tapped to that extent otherwise. One tends to get noticed more, and that too by a pan-Indian audience, and that helps a lot. A lot of film-makers also watch these series, and it’s beneficial for everyone to work on these OTT platforms. I am not saying that working in films doesn’t help us, but given the current scenario, I think OTT platforms are definitely the future of content.

For you, what’s the best thing about being an actor?

Right from the time I became a little serious about my acting career, I just love the fact that I am in front of the camera and that I get to not only wear nice clothes and look good, but that the parts I play give me a sense of liberation…. Okay, liberation may not be the right word, but it just gives me a high to be in front of the camera. A lot of people look up to you and the characters that you play. Of course, it’s how the director shows you on the screen and it’s the vision of the cameraman that makes you look the way you do on screen. The feeling of being an actor is unlike any other experience… I wish I could say it in a better way, but to put it simply, I feel like myself when I am in front of the camera. I feel free, I feel happy….

In the last year, all of us have consumed a lot of content. Is there a series or film or performance that’s stayed on with you?

Of late, I have been following Korean drama and I have seen a lot of them. I find K-Drama to be very relatable because a lot of the stories, and the way they are with their parents, their mannerisms, are pretty close to how we Indians are. Apart from that, Money Heist is a series I absolutely love and I am looking forward to the final season!

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