Unconventional fathers Bollywood.: Thankfully gone one are the days when fathers in Bollywood films were too quick to slap their daughters across their face even over the slightest ‘rebellious’ act like opposing to getting married to a stranger (if that’s called rebellion). Many stereotypical high-handed dads seem to have been replaced by fathers who unshackle their children rather than imposing unnecessary limitations.
On the contrary, the new (and needed) trope of unconventional fathers stand as a shield between the hypercritical and patriarchal society and their daughters, giving them the comfort a parent should be providing.
In these few years, we saw fathers sharing the burden, with the mothers, of raising and empowering a child. The notable characters became presented an instance of how seed of gender-equality needs to be sown at home and we are ever grateful for finally witnessing this change, at least on-screen.
Here are a few unconventional fathers we would like to see more often:
Sachin Sandhu in Thappad
The film Thappad which itself was a landmark project helmed by Anubhav Sinha is a near to perfect film for many reasons and giving us a remarkable character like Sachin Sandhu is one of them. Actor Kumud Mishra essays the role of the protagonist’s father, played by Taapsee Pannu.
While the women of the house preach Amrita, who wants to end her marriage after being slapped by her husband, the lesson of being a ‘perfect patni‘ that has been taught to them while growing up, Sandhu stands like a pillar of support to his daughter. He tells his daughter to follow her heart when the decision is about her life rather than raising the ‘log kya kahenge‘ question.
Sachin Sandhu’s character isn’t flawless, and realises that he has failed to take a stand for his wife but what he does right here is not repeating that mistake when it comes to his daughter. He rightly schools his son when he misbehaves with his girlfriend, a rare view. Mishra has set a benchmark after essaying the role of a feminist dad in the film and he is hands down, one of the favorites among the progressive Bollywood fathers.
Anup Saxena in Gunjan Saxena
The biopic based on the life of the former IAF officer Gunjan Saxena starring Janhvi Kapoor and Pankaj Tripathi gave us the unrivalled father-daughter duo. The latter who portrays the character of Gunjan Saxena’s father in the film, is an unparalled feminist dad. Anup Saxena believes in his daughter and her dreams even when she herself is on the verge of giving up on them. He is a man who denies to put the shackles of patriarchal mindset to hold her back from aspiring to become the person she has dreamt of.
While the threats of letting their daughter out in the male-dominated profession keep back parents from supporting their girl even when they want to, Saxena encourages Gunjan to become the example of change in such circumstances. When most people, even Gunjan’s family, are of the opinion that a woman can never be a pilot, Saxena dismisses the belief with just one statement: “Plane ladka udaye ya ladki, dono ko pilot hi bolte hain“.
Champak Bansal in Angrezi Medium
How far would a far go for his daughter’s wish? That’s the premise of the film. As a young kid, Tarika, Champak Bansal’s daughter harbours a wish to visit London which becomes her goal as she grows up. Bansal, played by Irrfan Khan, goes beyond his capabilities to help his daughter achieve her goal. As a sweet-shop owner from Udaipur he doesn’t totally understands Tarika’s ambition but that doesn’t restrain him from supporting her.
Even as an over-protective single parent, he understands the need of tacking a back seat and allowing a child to make decisions for themselves.
Bhashkor Banerjee in Piku
Amitabh Bachchan as Bhaskor Banerjee in Piku possibly portrayed the most non-stereotypical father on-screen, who encourages his daughter to think beyond marriage and emphasises on the importance of companionship and support a partner should bring to the table. He is a father who doesn’t shy away from accepting that his daughter is sexually active, in fact, makes it clear that the man who wishes to marry her should be aware of it too.
Banerjee is a man who has shed all the archaic constructs that our society has built and takes pride in saying out loud that his daughter is a self-sufficient independent woman. The widower is more of a friend, who is all ears to Piku’s opinions, than a authoritative father figure.
Narottam Mishra in Bareilly Ki Barfi
Another one joining the league of unconventional fathers is Narottam Mishra played by Pankaj Tripathi. The actor himself has earned the title of a ‘true feminist’ and his portrayal of one such man gives him a bonus point. The film set in a town like Bareilly give us little hope to meet a progressive father like Mishra.
While possibly most fathers have a drink or smoke with their sons without judging their character, sadly, the scenario changes when a daughter does the same. But Bitti’s father, while being protective of his free-spirited daughter, stays away from too much intrusion. He becomes her confidant in times when she just needs someone to hear her out without any judgements.
Mahavir Singh Phogat in Dangal
In the sports biopic Aamir Khan plays the role of Mahavir Singh Phogat, who a Indian wrestler and father of wrestler Geeta Phogat and Babita Phogat. When the former fails to accomplish a dream to win gold medal for the country, he waits to have a son to fulfil that dream. Intially, Phogat is disapponted for having daughters rather than a son, believing that only the latter has the capability to become a wrestler.
However, after a sudden apprehension that “Gold toh gold hove hai! Ladka lave ya ladki“, he decides to train his daughters to become the best in the nation. The breakthrough from the divide between the genders created in our own mind leads him to debunk the myth of superiority. Even when people question his decision, he stands beside his daughters till the end and rest is history.