It may begin with a theme that is socially relevant, or it may promise ‘quality content’. But ultimately, an Indian daily soap cannot stay away from the clichés and conventions — overly dramatic plots, characters wearing make-up to bed, unforeseeable, unrealistic twists.
However, Sony TV’s Mere Dad Ki Dulhan seems to be keeping away from that path. The Varun Badola-Shweta Tiwari starrer is worth your time due to its refreshing portrayal of a father-daughter relationship.
Mere Dad ki Dulhan is the story of widower Amber Sharma (Badola), who lives with his young daughter Nia (Anjali Tatrari). The two share a special bond where they do movie nights, dinner outings, share a drink when the going gets tough, give ‘champis’ and care for each other like nobody else. While Nia understands Amber’s age-related mood swings and his need to be pampered, Amber knows of his daughter’s dreams and never comes in her way. In fact, he has brought her up as an independent girl who is not bogged down by the challenges of life.
In Hindi TV shows, where a female character is often either a ‘bechaari’ or a vamp, it is delightful to watch Nia, played superbly by Tatrari, live life on her terms. And, unlike a Tulsi, Parvati or Pragya, she is not always a hero either. She is as vulnerable as any other youngster in today’s time. She has her flaws, and she isn’t afraid to acknowledge them. Like any of us, she has bad days at work and fails in her love life. But she is mature enough to understand her father’s need for a companion after her mother’s death.
In Amber Sharma, we get a relatable character. He is a father who is conflicted between his daughter’s safety, her dreams and her choices in life. He is worried when she goes out at night with a guy or is conscious when a male colleague visits her at home. But he still has relationship advice for her (though given reluctantly). But, ultimately, he trusts her with life situations.
Adding to this endearing father-daughter duo is Guneet Sikka (Shweta Tiwari), who plays Amber’s love interest. She is a woman in her early 40s, through whom the makers tell us love has no age, and it is completely fine for women to not be married even in their 40s.
She is hardly bothered about being likeable. She wants what she wants and is unabashed when she mentions what she desires in her partner. She is also unafraid to make mistakes. The trajectory of her relationship with Amber keeps one hooked. Kudos to the writers for not turning her into a woman who, to make a place for herself, plans and plots to bring differences between Amber and Nia.
What’s striking about Mere Dad Ki Dulhan is that none of its leads are painted as either heroes or villains. Also, it gives a very important lesson on how to make your characters relatable. It is not always necessary to give female characters an over-the-top look with makeup piled on. They can dress as you and I do.
To be fair, the ball was set rolling by the brilliant casting. They brought back television’s ace performers like Varun Badola and Shweta Tiwari, who proved their acting mettle on the small screen quite early in their careers. Joining them was a very talented young lot including actors Anjali Tatrari, Vijay Tilani, Samentha Fernandes and Shaleen Malhotra.
Indian TV shows have been misogynist, and have failed its women characters for such a long time that it will take more than just one show to turn the tide. So, I hope other channels and content creators take some inspiration from Mere Dad Ki Dulhan and realise it is not always about TRPs. Instead of blaming the audience for only accepting your stale saas-bahu dramas, offer them something new.
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