In Amazon Prime Video’s upcoming web series The Family Man, Manoj Bajpayee plays an intelligence agent who operates under the guise of a regular government employee. The extremely secretive and high-pressure nature of Srikant Tiwari’s job ensures that he has barely any time to run after his school-going children or care for his wife.
The wife, Suchitra, is played by the National Film Award-winning Priyamani (Paaruthiveeran, Thirakkatha, Raavan). Suchitra “wears the pants in the house”, the 35-year-old actress told Scroll.in. “She has to handle the kids, the husband, her job as a college lecturer. She is also contemplating switching to another job. She gets frustrated that Srikant isn’t listening to her even though he wants to. But she doesn’t wait for him. She spends time with the kids and takes up the responsibilities at home.”
Directed by Raj and DK and written by the filmmaking pair and Suman Kumar, The Family Man will be premiered on the Amazon streaming platform on September 20.
Priyamani “immediately jumped at” Suchitra’s role when it was offered to her. “When Raj sir and DK sir described Suchi to me, I really liked her,” she said. “She’s a typical working wife and someone who is not afraid of expressing herself. She’s a multi-tasking woman and someone who, even though she has her hands full, wants to do more.”
How was the experience of working with two directors? “A picnic,” Priyamani said. “I haven’t seen two directors who are more in sync. They don’t get flustered at all. Raj sir focuses more on the character while DK sir defines the shots.”
Priyamani made her debut with B Bhanushankar’s 2002 Telugu romance Evare Athagadu. Fluent in Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam and Telugu, the actress has been a consistent presence in the four main southern-language industries over the years. Her breakout role was as Muthazhagu in Ameer Sultan’s Tamil drama Paaruthiveeran (2006). The acclaimed film narrates the tragic relationship between Muthazhagu and Paruthiveeran (Karthi).
Priyamani won a National Film Award for her performance in Paruthiveeran. “The film made all industries sit up and take notice,” she said. “I didn’t anticipate that kind of a response. I just thought that the role was so wonderfully written.”
Priyamani has dabbled in Hindi cinema in the past. Her debut Hindi role was in Mani Ratnam’s dual-language Raavanan/Raavan (2010), in which she played a character loosely based on Shurpanakha from the Ramayana epic. Then, there was the item song 1234 in Rohit Shetty’s Chennai Express (2013).
“I don’t plan my career,” Priyamani said. “To be honest, almost every day, I listen to or read at least three to four scripts. I’m always choosy with my roles. I’m not worried about whether the movie will succeed or not. I should be convinced that my role is good and that it has a significant contribution to a movie.”
Actresses are being offered better roles than before in South Indian films, Priyamani observed. “A lot of directors are coming up with original stories and author-backed roles, and that’s great,” she observed. “However, in the South, if you ask for a heroine-centric film, half of them still come up with horror films, which I think has to change. I myself have done a few of those.”
She hopes that a web series like The Family Man will be a gamechanger. “The web is the future and everyone is dabbling in it,” Priyamani said. “The potential of this series for an actor and the global exposure it offers are immense.”