It is their tenth year in the industry and director duo Raj & DK are indeed getting their due. Though there was appreciation galore when they made films like 99, Shor In The City and Go Goa Gone, box office returns started coming with Stree last year. 2019 has been ultra-special for them though since their The Family Man has cut across boundaries and is continuing to be appreciated even though weeks have passed by since it started streaming. We get into an exclusive conversation with director duo Raj & DK who are known for their quirky narratives.
Other than the critics, it is the aam junta which has woken up to The Family Man being supremely entertaining. That must be even more heart-warming for you, right?
DK: Yeah, exactly. Firstly, I don’t think that there is an organized method of critical reviews of shows. For films they do it on a regular basis every Friday. Now more and more critics are reviewing series. We didn’t even know what to expect. This one has got raving reviews across the board. We have subverted the spy genre. People are used to seeing spy genre in a certain way. We have done it differently and that’s what surprised many. Our twitter accounts have been swamped on a daily basis.
Raj: The quantity and quality of the response has been mind boggling. The web platform is a little more personal to people. People are watching it on commute back home. Some are binge watching it. People are finding their own time to watch it. To a large extent people are living the show and identifying with the characters. It is very flattering. It is resonating with such a large base of audiences. It is not over yet, it is happening week after week.
It has been a while since 99 and Go Goa Gone which brought it well into the Bollywood map. Is the super success of The Family Man a shot in the arm already?
Raj: It has been a great year. In fact it has been 10 years for us in the industry. It’s has been a great tenth year starting with Stree. It was such an offbeat subject and still garnered so much success. It has now been followed by an even cooler success of The Family Man. It is indeed a shot in the arm.
DK: When we made 99 which was our first film in Hindi, people appreciated it. It was a small film and not with a major star cast. Go Goa Gone was a film that was appreciated and people were really surprised by it. Lot of people pointed out that it was way ahead of its time. It was a backhanded compliment though. When Stree came out, we also got confidence and assurance that our kind of humour and quirk had started working. Even before Stree, we had decided that whether our film turns out to be a hit or not, we would stick to our kind of stories rather than doing anything else that market dictates. Lot of people who have followed our work have said that finally now your stories, concept and kind of humour is working. That was a good thing to hear for us. Then we made The Family Man. Now everyone is seeing the kind of films that we make and the kind of humour that we bring on the table. It is distinctive. It is a good time for us, I believe.
I guess the masterstroke has been to place the central protagonist as an ordinary middle class family man, isn’t it?
DK: Yeah, that was the idea. It was to make a spy genre show that actually broke the mould. We see James Bond who is cool and has great reflexes with cars and all. In real world they are just human beings like us. They have problems and they do extraordinary things. One thing that we didn’t want to lose focus on was that the core of the issue had to be middle class, no matter what else happened. That’s there for everyone to see.
However, as the series progresses, post the midpoint it largely turns into a national drama thriller with the family angle left behind. What made you take that call?
Raj: I don’t think that we left it behind. It was that the plot took over. The first act is the setup, the second act is the thickening of the plot and the third is the climax. The first couple of episodes you get to know who this family man is. We didn’t want a single dimensional character. We had a story arc for all. As the plot takes over, you get to see the core of the series and hence you get more invested in it. The characters are all drawn into the plot.
DK: In a lot of ways that’s inevitable. The texture, concept, theme and the setting is one thing. It happens in 99% of series were at some point in time the plot has to take over. Else, you end up making slice of life show and that wasn’t our intention. In the first half of the series you have luxury to go on tangents to showcase lot of issues and personal matters that helps set up the characters to make them believable. More often than not at the mid-point you have to go to the story, which is the unspoken rule. This is where the plot thickens. That’s not a conscious choice as it is inevitable. We still went at some points back to the family but relatively the focus on the family is lesser in the second half. Any loose ends which are there, we have left them there deliberately.
(To be continued in Part 2)