This is the Summer of Aspirants and the Family Man S02.
What went viral in the Season of Second Wave, besides the China Virus, are Sandeep Bhaiya and Chellam Sir.
Without taking anything away from the fine efforts of Naveen Kasturia and Manoj Bajpai, it must be conceded that Sunny Hinduja in Aspirants, and Udaybhanu Maheshwaran in the Family Man S02, have sent fans into frenzy. Why did these cameos capture the public imagination to such a huge extent? Is there more to it than meets the eye?
While Sandeep Bhaiya filled the otherwise dry, loveless and pragmatic Aspirants with emotional warmth and humanity, without Chellam Sir, NIA would have been all at sea, from the roll of the dice to the final wrapping up of the plot. It would be fair to assess but for Chellam Sir’s presence in the Family Man, PM Basu would most certainly have been assassinated.
This cannot be mere coincidence that both these ‘viral’ characters-
- come across as ‘men in control’- of their emotions and various situations, and have accrued lot of knowledge and wisdom in life. In these dangerous and difficult times, such characters, who can fend for themselves, and serve as mentors and provide support to even the most successful of men, are highly sought after. They give confidence to the viewers, that someone, somewhere shall come forward to help them too, if and when do they need it. This is, after all, the Age of Sonu Sood.
- make all, but one, contacts with the main protagonists only. While Shwetketu (SK) did share a moment with Sandeep, they hardly anything substantial was discussed. Besides this one instance, Sandeep Bhaiya shared all his screen time with Naveen Kasturiya’s Abhilash Sharma. Similarly, on Srikant’s request, Chellam Sir took Balakrishna (in UK) and JK (in Chennai) on a conference call, in a bid to convince Subbu to surrender. (But pay attention, this was just a call, not a face-to-face, not even a video Whatsapp call at that! )
What I suspect is that both these dramatis personae, Sandeep and Chellam, represent the alter egos of Abhilash Sharma and Srikant Tiwari respectively. In times of confusion, distress and deadlocks, heroes turn towards their inner selves for guidance, and are blessed with the best possible advice, sans malice and ulterior motives. Remember that neither Sandeep, not Chellam, make any demands upon the lead characters. They exist just to help, motivate and shed light. This is what has raised my heckles, because with real human beings, relationships are two-way streets. (Also to clarify, a minor character’s slight interaction with outsiders- like Chellam-Bhaskaran and Sandeep- Sardarji does not hurt the inner-self theory, because stories are told from the POV of lead characters, and such interactions can be explained away as main protagonists’ contacts with these characters….in this case, Srikant-Bhaskaran and Abhilash-Sardarji)
There are plethora of Sandeep Bhaiyas in Mukherjee and Old Rajinder Nagar. Slighly older, mature, sincere guys, hanging around Delhi like old bats with few attempts now left, and a lot of gyan accrued with experience to go along with their studied manner. Sandeep helped Abhilash with his attitude twice- once he cured him of his negativity when the latter had just arrived in Delhi and used to blame the system incessantly; and another time with his isolation, when after meeting him, the IAS set aside his ego, and left to attend his best friends’ wedding to his ex-girlfriend.
Sandeep stands for owning up to the reality around you- the inevitable setbacks and frustrations, and yet working towards finding ways forward in life. Sandeep does not reform or help others as part of his agenda, his help is incidental to his basic goodness. Sandeep is the name of shedding tears in rain, yet inspiring others while doing so. Sandeep is the name of avuncularly patting while hugging someone and goading them into following the right path. Sandeep is Abhilash’s inner voice-‘antaratma ki awaz’.
Chellam Sir on the other hand is further proof that NIA and other Indian security agencies cannot attract and keep the best talents interested. Both Chellam and Srikant Tiwari had quit their jobs, but had to return to save the PM and help the depleted ranks of the Agency. From getting Subbu to surrender, to locating the Eelam safehouses, unearthing the whole plot and finding the airstrip from which attack might have commenced, the duo is central to all the action that takes place. Chellam threw light and showed the path, Srikant rushed ahead and performed heroic action.
Sri and JK were supposed to meet Chellam at a restaurant. JK did hear Chellam grumble that he would not be alive but for the precautions, but did not actually get to see him, whereas Sri not only saw Chellam, but also picked the newspaper containing address details. Even when JK wanted to turn and look, Chellam asked him not to (perhaps because there was nothing to look at). Later Chellam contacted only Srikant, and guided him all the way. Safe is to say that but for Chellam, there would be no story.
Chellam’s phone to JK, even as Balakrishna waited at the other end, does weaken the inner voice theory, I admit, but let me also point out that this might actually be a smokescreen created by Srikant. Maybe he is the one who personally knew and had called Bhaskaran, and then asked someone to speak to JK. And why would Srikant play this game? To be taken seriously, of course. Remember, he had quit the job, but had kept his interest and assets alive. To be taken seriously by a serving office (JK), it is quite within the realm of possibility, that Sri created a fictional character who occasionally helped him out.
That is how Srikant, despite being a newly-returned agent, was able to take the team along and got them to follow his instincts and information. Chellam is thin air, merely a figment of Sri’s fertile imagination, a make-believe former agent helping NIA.
There might be some points against this ‘inner voice’ theory in both the cases. Blame it on poor writing if you have to. The script screams and time craves for such reincarnations which take birth in protagonists’ minds. Somewhat more aware, smart and careful writing might have taken care of these glitches and delivered perfectly logical and coherent stories. Even otherwise, I guess my contentions hold. It just requires a little leap of faith.
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