Manoj Bajpayee in 'The Family Man 2' (screen grab).
There is something about Raj & DK that has always made me marvel the kind of cinema that they make. First and foremost, they have truly original stories to tell. Moreover, there is distinct humor that they bring to the proceedings, something that has been apparent from the likes of 99 and Shor In The City to Go Goa Gone and even Happy ending and A Gentleman. With their web series the Family Man, they have further found their bearings as they are able to narrate a tale in a manner that only then can, and in Manoj Bajpayee, they have found a ready partner.
While the world of talking about how good is the second installment of this geo-political web series has turned out to by, what has further caught my attention is the technology marvel that they bring in each time around. One such narrative peg that they use is around shooting action sequences as a 'single shot' sequences, something that is not just audacious to think of but it is almost impossible to pull off. In drama, it is still possible, as shown by Alfred Hitchcock in Rope . However, to do that for an action affair sounds implausible even on paper.
However, the duo did that with aplomb in the first season as well and that too twice over, first on a shootout that took place in the dead of the night at the empty streets of Mumbai and later in a well crafted hospital escape sequence. In the second season, they have now gone one up. This time around, there are three such sequences and each one only makes you gasp. (Spoilers ahead)
In a style that could well be trademarked by them, Raj & DK in fact open the second season with a near five minute long sequence that is set 'somewhere in Sri Lanka'. A long drawn single shot sequence has the right mix of drama, tension and action, as audiences are introduced to the Tamil rebels. A majorly mounted sequence which has a camp site set in the natural locations of the coastal area, you get to see soldiers practicing in the background, trucks carrying ammunition, cooks preparing meals and the key characters taking a walk around the camp.
It is all done so seamlessly that it takes you a couple of minutes to actually realize that there is no cut even once. While you go along the flow, the mood is creating for some impending action ahead and that happens indeed when Sri Lankan army attacks the base camp, hence leading to an action sequence which dissolves into black. Truly well crafted.
However, the best of the lot is the second sequence (and this is my personal favorite of them all across both the seasons) where Manoj Bajpayee realizes that the police station where he has held the rebel (Samantha Akkineni) in custody is about to be attacked. While his facial muscles ache for a microsecond before he exclaims 'I think we are under attack', as an audience you aren't entirely prepared about what would ensue. No wonder, it is sheer magical to see it all unfold as villagers arrive out of nowhere and soon an action sequence kick-starts.
One has to acknowledge the director dup, the action director, and a team of around 30-40 actors who go through their act in clockwork precision as action shifts from indoors to outdoors. I especially loved the shot where action unfolds outside the police station and while Manoj Bajpayee shoots a man down from the first floor of the police station, the drone camera follows him from this point on even as he shifts the action to different points of the police station. Remarkable indeed as there are bullets, blood, blows and explosions all happening simultaneously.
Last such 'single shot' sequence to arrive is the one is the climax where Manoj Bajpayee has a job in hand to stop Samantha from taking off with a private plane and then blowing it away. It is a major action sequence with a wide canvas feel and rest assured, it wouldn't have been easy to pull off even as the good guys chase the bad guys. Yet again, it is amazing to see how the entire technical crew of The Family Man comes together to alternatively focus from a character's face and body to the much wider action happening on the road being used as an airstrip.
Even Raj & DK would agree that at a couple of places at least they come up with a cheat shot trick which acts as a camouflage. That was understandable too since the camera had to go in and out of a moving jeep and then focus on the plane, something that is impossible to pull off when there is vehicular movement in motion. Still, it is done seamlessly which enhances the overall impact.
For the aspiring filmmakers, there is indeed a lot to learn from just three of these sequences, and rest assured when the third sequence of The Family Man arrives, there would be a lot more of technical wizardry coming into play from Raj & DK with Manoj Bajpayee continuing to enjoy being a part of this joy ride.