A father and child have always shared a complex relationship on celluloid. Some fathers were the protective heroes and some were the angsty villains; some were the pillars of support and some were the biggest walls between the protagonists and their goals.
Over time, while the theme of single mothers became quite common in Hindi cinema, single fathers, in comparison, remained relatively scarce. However, some films did explore the latter. This Father’s Day, let’s take a look at a few of these characters and the relationships they shared with their children. P.S. Not all of them are hunky-dory.
The Over-Protective Father
Character: Seth Dharamchand (Anupam Kher)
Film: Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin
Rarely do we see a father who asks his daughter to run away from her own wedding. But Seth Dharamchand does it anyway. And no, not because the man she’s marrying isn’t rich – he’s actually a well-known movie star. He asks her to run away because he knows that there exists a man who probably isn’t as rich, but loves her the way she deserves to be loved. When Pooja (Pooja Bhatt) tells him that the man in question, Raghu (Aamir Khan) thinks of him as a father who spoilt his daughter, he delightfully agrees, acknowledging his flaws. He knows he has spoilt her – that she is stubborn and needlessly privileged because he could never say no to her, and respects Raghu even more for showing her the mirror. Of course, he is overprotective, and he tries to shield his daughter from fighting her own battles, but in the end, all he wants is the best for her. Caste, class, money doesn’t matter. And that’s what counts.
The ‘Sharma-Ji-Ka-Ladka’ Father
Character: Ramlal Sharma (Kulbhushan Kharbanda)
Film: Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar
Ramlal Sharma is that father who wishes to relive his golden days through his sons. Once, years ago, he had won the first – and only – cycling medal that Model college ever won against the mighty Rajputs. Now, he runs a café while training his elder son, Ratan (Mamik Singh), to become the next winner. While he isn’t the kind of father who would berate his son for not topping the class; he would, however, believe that the one who tops is the ‘sikandar’. When Ratan, after a fatal accident, falls into a coma, his youngest son, Sanju (Aamir Khan) recalls how his elder brother used to get more affection from their father for winning multiple large-sized trophies in comparison to Sanju’s maiden, miniature one. That makes you wonder whether that was why he, otherwise the brat of the family, never tries to work harder. The father and son are always at odds, neither one trying to communicate to understand each other. Ramlal Sharma is not the ideal father, for he doesn’t believe in his children equally. It’s rather saddening to see him not even cheering for Sanju for participating in the race. He sits in the stands with no expectations, or emotions, and only stands up, eyes moist, when he is about to win the race. Someone tell him it’s not always about winning anyway.
The Father Who Is Actually A Friend
Character: Rahul Khanna (Shah Rukh Khan)
Film: Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
Rahul is probably very young when he has Anjali (Sana Saeed). He is married to Tina (Rani Mukherjee) soon after college, and plans the child and their future with her. To imagine a situation where suddenly, it’s only him and a new-born child – after his beloved wife’s untimely death – Rahul must’ve felt lost. And yet, he somehow manages to stand back up for his daughter. He takes the help of his mother to raise little Anjali and tries to become a father and friend to her. He is extremely protective of her – refusing her permission to go to a summer camp she desperately wants to go to. She ends up going anyway, and he accepts it, because he adores her. He is dependent on her too – he misses her so much that he lands up on her favourite TV show to tell her that. But the good thing is that they talk. A lot. He takes his eight-year-old as seriously as he possibly can, and often ends up getting schooled by her – which he doesn’t quite mind at all. They have a healthy, heart-warming relationship, and even though Anjali misses having a mother, Rahul makes sure she knows she has a father who loves her unconditionally.
The Gen-Z Dad
Character: Samarjit Talwar (Amitabh Bachchan)
Film: Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna
Samarjeet aka ‘Sexy Sam’ was ahead of his time. He isn’t just best friends with his son Rishi (Abhishek Bachchan), but is probably pally with his friends too. He lives his life to the fullest, loves to party and indulge in… short-term relationships. He is one of the first people to notice the cracks in his son’s marriage. However, he maintains his distance – letting him figure out his life on his own. Instead, he subtly tries to mend his family by talking about his own relationship with his wife, who is now no more. It won’t be wrong to suggest that in a way, Rishi and Maya’s (Rani Mukherjee) marriage stays afloat for as long as it does because he inspires them to. When he discovers that Maya is having an extra-marital affair, he doesn’t blame her or compel her to stay with his son, no matter what. When the time comes, he, in fact, humanizes her and tries to understand her point of view – a perspective rarely seen when infidelity is involved. He is the one to actually advise her to leave Rishi instead of living in an incomplete relationship, because both of them deserved love, just not from each other. And that’s wise – and an extremely hard-to-find trait in a Hindi film father.
The Father Who Isn’t
Character: Bhairav Singh (Ronit Roy)
When a person becomes a parent without actually being ready for a responsibility that big, the end product might be similar to Bhairav. He has probably suffered from an intense, traumatic childhood himself if his conversations with his younger brother are to be taken into account. However, that doesn’t justify the way he treats his sons. He physically and emotionally abuses them, shuns them for having a dream that is unconventional, and doesn’t even bother to acknowledge their talent. In a heartbreaking scene, he passes an unnecessary, condescending remark after listening to Rohan’s (Rajat Barmecha) stunning poetry – breaking the kid’s heart, and his silent but desperate hope to find a silver lining to his father’s behaviour.
The Eccentric Father
Character: Bhashkor Banerjee (Amitabh Bachchan)
Bhashkor has a very complex, layered personality. On one hand, he raises Piku (Deepika Padukone) to become a strong, independent person, and is against the idea of any man controlling her life. He talks highly about women with ambitions, and female leaders who carved their own ways. But on the other, his reluctance towards Piku having a relationship, in general, feels selfish at times. He is now old, has health issues, and is dependent on his daughter. Is he concerned that her attention would get divided if she gets into a relationship? Or whether she would leave him if things get serious? While they have their own tender moments — they are quite similar in nature, and bond over their common love for music — it’s not difficult to see that they hardly agree on anything. As a father, he is a tad manipulative too – often twisting his words and guilting Piku for the tiniest of things. It’s oddly satisfying when Rana (Irrfan) actually calls him out on it. Listening to a third person’s perspective about his behaviour perhaps leaves him dumbfounded, and for once, the man is speechless. But despite all the hiccups, they are bound by love, and leave a deep imprint in each other’s lives.
The Accidental Father
Character: Jaswinder Singh (Saif Ali Khan)
Film: Jawaani Jaaneman
Honestly, Jaswinder aka Jazz is the definition of a man-child. He’s a 40-year-old who lives to splurge, party and hook up with women he meets in pubs. He is completely taken aback when a young woman then comes up to him to inform that he is actually her father. The thing is, he has no ‘paternal instincts’ – not everyone is supposed to have them either. And that makes him utterly confused about his responsibilities going forward. He had avoided the concept of ageing until then, and even ends up with a broken leg and a heavy hangover just trying to prove otherwise. With time, he adapts though, and he tries, to be there for a daughter he doesn’t know how to treat, or behave in front of, but grows to love and accept nonetheless.
The Doting Dad
Character: Champak Ghasiteram Bansal (Irrfan)
Film: Angrezi Medium
Champak is not just doting, he is the will-go-to-any-lengths doting father. His daughter Tarika (Radhika Madan) wishes to study abroad, and him, being him, promises her that he will send her there, come what may. Now London is a place that is very difficult to afford, especially without a scholarship. But Champak wants to – needs to – protect his daughter’s dream, and ends up in one misadventure after the other in order to do so. While Tarika does end up in London, and starts living on her own, Champak’s tryst with misfortunes continues as he finds himself detained, unable to meet his daughter. While he deserves a lot of credit for encouraging Tarika’s dreams, the lack of communication between them becomes irksome. He should’ve spoken to her and reasoned it out. While Tarika is impatient and rude with her father on multiple occasions, Champak too ends up judging her for sharing a house with boys, and wearing short clothes – both of which feel unfair. They do manage to tide over their issues in the end though, managing to communicate and find their way back to each other – a companionship they realize they’re not complete without.