On Father's Day, here are five examples from across languages to show us how a father is not just the one who is biologically related.
Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke is a good crash course for young dads. Aamir Khan is Rahul, who is left to raise his sister's three impossibly naughty kids after she dies in an accident. These kids give poor Rahul a really hard time as he figures out parenting. It doesn't help that Rahul has no concept of fun. On his day off, he takes them to a classical dance recital, and this ends with them fleeing the venue to escape boredom. Enter Juhi Chawla's character, and soon Rahul loosens up and becomes a fun uncle. He flies kites with the kids, takes them on picnics where they sing together like the Von Trapp family, and also slips into strict dad mode when he needs to discipline them.
Becoming a father wasn't really a choice Unnikrishnan (Mohanlal) made. Unni is old enough to get married when his mother becomes pregnant, causing him much embarrassment. But when she dies during childbirth and his heartbroken father leaves town, Unni parents young Meenakshi. But he isn't just her achan (dad). He is her chetta-achan (half brother-half dad), who later becomes very strict and controlling but also extremely sensitive about Meenakshi. In the film, it is hinted in several places that Unni gives up his own dreams and marriage to take care of Meenakshi. But when she moves to the big city for college, her need to shift away from her Chetta-Achan's ways causes him a lot of pain, resulting in one of most heartbreaking climaxes in all of Malayalam cinema.
Aby (Mohanlal) in Unnikale is a lot like Arun from Mr. India. They are both people struggling to take care of orphan children, the only people they have in their lives. But there's no magic to help Aby raise them. Sadness is his only possession. Aby Abraham becomes an orphan not once but twice. After being adopted by a kind-hearted lonely man, he loses everything when the man's estranged wife and kids return to take over his assets. Back on the streets, he deals with loneliness by taking care of a bunch of other orphans. Their little farm truly becomes heaven for all of them. But their peace, alas, is disturbed when it is learnt that Aby has a terminal illness.
Arguably, one of the most touching father-son relationships in recent movies is one that's actually between the king and his general. But the relationship between Baahubali (Prabhas) and Kattappa (Sathyaraj) is one with multiple layers. For Baahubali, Kattappa is his closest confidant, friend, conscience and philosopher. For Kattappa, he is King, his master, a part of his dharma, but also a son. Which is why that cliffhanger at the end of the first film became such a talking point in India for a couple of years till the second film released. Can a father ever kill his son?
When one thinks of Madhavan playing a non-biological father, the first character name that obviously comes to mind is Thiruchelvan from Kannathil Muthamittal. Give it a second thought, though, and there's a case to be made for Prabhu from Irudhi Suttru taking over the fatherly duties of Madhi to guide her through the boxing circuit.
That Madhi has feelings for him is hinted in several places, but the rules of this relationship are finally laid down by Prabhu. And when Madhi wins her boxing tournament, the way she runs to Prabhu to hug him, a daughter her father, is when their relationship attains greater meaning and depth.