Amazon Prime Video’s The Family Man Season 2, created by Raj & DK, has been winning rave reviews from critics and viewers alike. However, many Tamils are upset with the makers of the show and the actors. While the first season dealt with Kashmiri separatists, the second revolves around Eelam Tamils and their struggle. Although fictional, the premise, storyline and characterisation have triggered massive outrage among the Tamil community.
In the past few days, discussions have been raging on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Club House. Dr Yazhini PM from Chennai, who has been part of several such discussions says, “The making of Family Man Season 1 was excellent. But even in the first season, Muslims and Kashmiris were stereotyped. There’s already an agenda set in our country that Muslims are terrorists, and the first season reinforced this stereotype. The second season is not only about the LTTE but also the Tamil rebels. Even in Tamil Nadu, there is a large section that has not read anything about the Eelam Tamil movement. When they haven’t done so and they watch the series for the first time, their first impression is that it’s a terrorist movement that killed a former Prime Minister of our country, and that the Tamils were a huge part of it.”
Yazhini further points out that there is a perception in north India that the Tamil people have ‘anti-national’ tendencies due to the resistance to Hindi and national parties like the BJP that are popular everywhere else. “It is actually a very complicated issue in which the Indian government played a huge role in encouraging the movement in Sri Lanka and also diffusing it. The geopolitical reasons are explained very superficially in the series. They haven’t gone into the intricacies, to show how the Union government and not just the Tamil Nadu government supported the organisation. The entire blame has been shifted to Tamil Nadu as such,” she says.
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From the discussions that have been happening, here are the other major reasons why the Tamil community is upset with The Family Man Season 2 (major spoilers ahead):
1. The reason for Bhaskaran deciding to attack the Indian Prime Minister: The chief of the Eelam movement in the show is Bhaskaran, who is closely modelled on late LTTE chief Prabhakaran. Bhaskaran decides to assassinate the Indian Prime Minister after his brother is captured in Chennai and killed in a blast at the court premises.
While the LTTE was indeed involved in the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, history is more complicated. India had cordial relations with Prabhakaran but changed its outlook subsequently, and when Rajiv Gandhi sent the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) that is believed to have committed several atrocities against Eelam Tamils, the relationship was strained further. In the show, Bhaskaran is shown to have compromised on the struggle for personal vendetta. In reality, Prabhakaran lost almost his entire family to violence but remained committed to the Eelam cause till the very end.
2. LTTE shown working with the ISI: In the series, it is the ISI which kills Bhaskaran’s brother but makes it look like it was the Indian government that did so. Bhaskaran and his followers then work with the ISI to kill the sitting Indian Prime Minister.
Although there have been allegations by the NIA and other agencies about links between the ISI and the LTTE in the past, this premise has not gone down well with Tamils who see their struggle as a righteous one. The idea of Bhaskaran being so easily manipulated has also offended their sentiments.
3. Eelam Tamils as the enemy: The nearly 26-year long war in Sri Lanka came to an end in 2009. Most of the LTTE’s top leaders and their families were brutally killed or made to ‘disappear’. Over 50,000 LTTE cadres are believed to have died in the war that went on for decades.
Though the series makes several mentions of the brutality unleashed on the Tamils by the Sri Lankan army and government, it is ultimately the Eelam Tamils who are the antagonists pitched against TASC agent Srikant Tiwari and his team. The othering of an already oppressed people, despite the attempts to portray them with empathy, has led to much of the anger.
4. Raji and her attitude to sexual assault: In the series, Raji is a Tamil rebel who is chosen for the mission of assassinating the Indian PM. She’s careful not to draw attention to herself, and this requires her to put up with sexual harassment in public transport and at the workplace. It is also revealed that Raji was gangraped by the Sri Lankan army and rescued by Bhaskaran. However, though Raji gives a fitting reply to the men who harass her, the scenes where she puts up with it are seen as triggering and humiliating to Eelam Tamil women.
Towards the end, she voluntarily has sex with an officer who stops their truck. This is to make sure that the disassembled plane that they’re carrying is not captured. This scene, in particular, has offended the Tamil community since they see it as an insult to the honour of Tamil women. Samantha being brown-faced for the role has also been criticised heavily.
5. LTTE men shown drinking when alcohol was banned in the outfit: Although alcohol is not villainised in the series and is not used to portray someone negatively, showing the Tamil leaders consuming it has been criticised since it is factually incorrect. Alcohol and drugs were banned in the LTTE, and this departure from facts has led to anger among the Tamil community which has accused the makers of inadequate research.
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