In a year where OTT overflowed with shows and movies to consume, the techies-turned-directors of The Family Man managed to grab their audiences’ attention with a mind-blowing season 2.

Two techies-turned-directors, Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK, began their film industry journey with films like 99, Shor in the City, and Go Goa Gone. They were termed quirky, and ahead of the times. Their success has turned their film style into relatable and popular. “I’m just glad that we persisted with the type of cinema we wanted to make, and if that is popular and relatable now, it is lovely,” says Raj.

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The duo directed The Family Man Season 2 this year, and it was the toast of the streaming services. It cemented their position as the most exciting names in the business. Raj says, “It has been a fantastic combination for me as with The Family Man 2, we were able to break the curse of season 2, which has destroyed many a series.”

“We all know that season one did exceptionally well, and we were meeting many people who would tell us that they had seen the show. But with season 2 doing equally well, it is difficult for me to find people who haven’t seen the show or who aren’t planning to watch it,” adds DK.

Cinema Bandi was another project from them under their D2R Indie vertical, which is specially aimed at supporting independent film-makers. It is a story of a rickshaw driver whose life takes a turn when he finds an expensive camera, and decides to make a film. “Cinema Bandi is the kind of independent cinema we come from. We produced our first film. We always put our own money with our small teams and make the film. Bandi was just 10 people going to a village, and shooting a film. The film went on to become one of the best Telugu films. Two projects. and both of them are successful. You just can’t ask for more,” Raj says.

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The success of both the seasons of The Family Man can also be seen as redemption for the directors. As directors, Happy Ending and The Gentleman were their last films that didn’t work at the box office. They explain, “We put in a lot while making Gentleman. We wanted to make a popcorn film like Die Hard. I still think the film has great action.

The film was a washaway on the first of the shoot itself. There was heavy rainfall lashing that day, and I thought, ‘Oh my god. This film is gone.’ It didn’t work at all when it was released, and it was a depressing Friday. On Saturday, I had a chat with DK, and discussed how we needed to dig in our heels and go back to our roots. That’s when we started writing Stree. The idea was we would write what we wanted to write. Let’s just do it, and make it on our own. We would make the film irrespective of who would partner as a producer, just how we did Flavours, and 99. I’m glad that the whole phase of The Gentleman and Stree made us relook at the bigger picture, and do what we are doing right now.”

Go Goa Gone 2

Things don’t stop there for the duo. They are directing the Shahid Kapoor – Vijay Sethupathi-Raashii Khanna project, and are producing a Pankaj Tripathi and Kunal Khemmu starrer, both are on the edge of completion. They also have an international project titled Citadel with Russo Brothers, The Family Man Season 3, and possibly a film with Shah Rukh Khan. It may be one of the most exciting creative phases for the directors, but the directors disagree. DK explains, “It is all catching up right now. Things that we intended to do in 2019 carried forward to 2020-2021. Now, we have to work at double speed. It is a good, creative phase. 2019 was when Family Man Season 1 came out. It was also when Citadel and the other shows that we are making now were conceived. In 2020 with the pandemic, everything came to a standstill. A dead year for many people, and 2021 was the culmination of all that started from 2019. Glitch, part of Unpaused on Amazon Prime, was the only one we took on as a challenge during the pandemic. There were huge restrictions, and we had to make a film in 2-3 days with a skeletal crew. The film involved a lot of creative thinking, from the script stage to how it would look. It was a film about a pandemic, shot in a pandemic, but it couldn’t look depressing.”

Stree

“We are in a very creative phase. I don’t know if this is best or not, but we are as creatively excited and expressive as we were when we started off like Shor in the City and Go Goa Gone back-to-back. It is the kind of creative freedom, and enthusiasm is back with bigger stakes and bigger backing,” concurs Raj.

With so much going in their favour, today, the directors can choose their own projects on their own terms. Though DK disagrees and asserts, “Truth be told, we were always very choosy about our subjects even when we had flop films. We were writing our own stuff, and choosing what to do. There have been so many offers that we have turned down because it was either a remake or it was something we could see but couldn’t fathom making or doing something special with it.”

Happy Ending

The duo will be straddling between the roles of producers and directors over multiple projects very soon. So what kind of producers are Raj and DK? “We want to be the producers that we never had but would have loved to have when we were trying to find our feet. All that we needed was that little support to make the film, and most of the people we end up partnering with are also very resourceful like us. It’s either just the knowledge you bring to the table, or some kind of financial collaboration. However, we are not wealthy producers, so budget always matters, and hence it is still called indie,” DK says, and I concur.