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Papa. In the history of Bollywood, we have seen them as arrogant men, hard working labourers, or as fiercely protective people, who wouldn’t just let their daughters go anywhere near Rahul or Raj. When we think of the father figures in Bollywood, Amrish Puri and Anupam Kher have a special place in our hearts. But lately, dad’s of Bollywood are more than just another supporting role. They represent everything that’s both right and wrong in the world. In the recent years, a few daddies have majorly managed to impress us in their own ways.
Ideally, Bollywood has always taught us the ones who bribe are the ones who have taken the wrong road. But is bribing all about money? In Hindi Medium, when Irrfan Khan was asked by Tillotama Shome during a mock interview, what would he do if his daughter refuses to go to school, he reluctantly replied that he will give her a lollipop just to appease her. Accept it. This was a deal you have made with your parents when you didn’t want to go to school either. Raj Batra, was a major throwback to the daddy with whom we once danced to the tunes of ‘Taare Gin Gin’ or other groovy songs whenever they came on the radio. But the reason why he managed to leave a mark is because he practiced what he preached. While trying to show a movie on cultural imperialism, Hindi Medium also showed the flawed side of the reservation system – privileged families getting the benefit that is ideally reserved for the poor.
Unknowingly Raj had taken away the rights of a poor man, by pretending to be poor himself and that kept pricking his conscious when he realised his mistake. That was what provoked him to make his daughter join a government school, which had equally good facilities, but only lacked the glamour that comes from studying in a private school.
Talking about fathers of Bollywood in recent times, it is difficult to forget ‘Haanikarak Baapu’, Aamir Khan in Dangal. Each time, when I failed to get a good score in math, I knew that my punishment would include no television for the next few weeks, no eating golgappas, ice creams, and basically being grounded for the rest of the month until I got full marks in my next test.
Much like the girls of Dangal, I thought to myself, “teri nazron main kya hum itne naalayak hain, (Do you consider me to be so useless?”) while shedding “aansu ki pichkari, (while shedding tears)” on the outside. Aamir Khan in Dangal, reflected the strict daddy phase we encountered whenever we knew (or did not know) that we did something wrong. But when we grow up, or watch him from the perspective of a third person, we realise how he is one of those dads who is ready to give up even the last of his fortunes to ensure that we get to live better lives and not live with regrets. The only reason he teaches us the harder way, is because that’s the way the of the world.
Going further back, we have to mention the cranky old Bhaskor Banerjee, from Piku, who believed the creation of negativity begins when there is a problem in our digestive system. Amitabh Bachchan who had rightfully won the national award for this role, had played a hypochondriac, who didn’t want to die of constipation. But let us look at the brighter side of Bhaskor Bannerjee. He was too modern for his contemporaries. At a phase where parents insisted their children to find a partner and get settled, Bhaskor enouraged Piku to be a financially independent woman with a purpose, and not get married and dependent. Technically he was not against Piku being in relationships as long as they weren’t more than a casual exchange of affairs.
He was completely aware of his daughter not being a virgin and did not mind saying it aloud when she met other men. Although he convinced himself that he was fit enough to take care of himself, he secretly worried if Piku ever considered him to be a burden in her life. Piku may not have realised, but one of the reasons why she grew up to be a free-thinking, independent and strong woman was because she had a father who cared more about her than the strangers who lived with them in the society.
It was in the same year when we also met, Chandrabhan Tiwari, from Dum Laga Ke Haisha. The quiet, soft father, who slapped his son for fat shaming a well-educated woman. At a time when we read so much about women giving up their jobs after marriage, Tiwari ji never discouraged his daughter-in-law from doing anything fruitful in life. He probably secretly saw her as an inspiration and hoped his son would learn a thing or two from her, while being her husband. Sanjay Mishra may have been a supporting character in the national award winning movie, but even he had several qualities worth the mention.