I don’t watch daily soaps because their plot-lines are predictable, exaggerated and deeply patriarchal and misogynist. But recently, while browsing through the TV, I stumbled upon a show that completely changed my mindset. Mere Dad Ki Dulhan, a daily soap that started last year has hooked me for its different plot-line and especially that which addresses feminism. Yes, you heard it right.
The show stars Varun Badola as Amber Sharma, a widower and a father of 23 plus woman, Nia, played by Anjali Tatrari. Set in Ghaziabad, the basic idea of the show is that an empowered daughter wants her father to find a partner and alleviate his loneliness after her mother’s death. The father is reluctant as he thinks that finding a new partner will mean deceiving his deceased wife whom he loves dearly, the daughter herself sets him up with different women. And Guneet Sikka played by Shweta Tiwari, who Sharma falls in love with, is ultimately the Dad ki Dulhan showing us that love has no age.
The first reason why I find this show feminist is the father-daughter relationship the show portrays. The duo shares a relationship that is much different than the one that we usually witness in Indian families. They are like best friends, who have movie nights at home and outside, turns to cook food, to give hair champi to each other and whatnot. In the absence of Nia’s mother, Amber Sharma (the father) takes on all the roles that usually a mother is supposed to do. He is a feminist father who encourages his daughter to move forward in her choice of career, pampers her on a bad day at work and even gives her relationship advises (although reluctantly). There are situations in the show when Amber Sharma is conflicted between his responsibility as a father and his daughter’s personal freedom and right to make her own decisions. And ultimately, the rational choice that he makes is to let Nia decide for her life.
The relationship takes a new turn when Amber Sharma’s romantic relationship with Guneet Sikka (Shweta Tiwari) begins. Nia becomes an understanding and supportive daughter who considers her father as a human being with desires and in need of a companion. She is the one who initiates the discussion with her father that he should start dating. How many daughters are able to speak so freely about love, desires and relationships with their fathers? When she comes to know about Amber and Guneet Sikka, elated Nia hugs her father making him realise that there is nothing wrong in loving and her father warmly says “Tu badi ho gyi hai.” It is a treat to eyes to see Nia discussing with her father about his relationship status, training him how to behave when he goes on a date, choosing the right clothes for him, teasing him when he blushed and planning how to propose and get Guneet Sikka’s mother to accept their relationship.
This brings me to yet another feminist aspect of the show, its portrayal of feminist women characters who are empowered and make their own decisions. Nia Sharma’s empowered and that is visible in the way she tackles with her problems on her own, never gives up or lets her gender decide her choices. Not once in the show till now she was pressurised by her father to get married.
Shweta Tiwari’s role as Guneet Sikka is another feminist portrayal. She is a single earning woman in her 40s living alone with her widowed mother in Ghaziabad. No doubt her mother keeps on forcing her to meet men and get married but Sikka does not rush through her marriage just because she is growing old. And ultimately after much argument, her mother also understands her concern and lets her daughter take the lead. There is also a narrative of sisterhood as Nia’s best friend Kajal supports her in every step (even quits her job with Nia to establish a start-up together). Moreover, Guneet also understands Nia, her problems and decisions and helps Amber to be a feminist father.
The show, Mere Dad ki Dhulan in many ways is a standout in the daily soap genre by breaking stereotypes in age, decisions on marriage, women taking their own decisions etc.
Rather than the oppressed, sacrificial or vamp women, the show has real women characters that embody empowerment and feminism. And unlike the patriarchs of the saas-bahu soaps, the men in this show are as much feminists as the women. They not only support women but also set themselves free from the toxic masculinity.