Bollywood is leaving behind its old robe of dominating fathers and putting on the new cloak of feminist dads. From Chaudhary Baldev Singh of DDLJ to Sachin Sandhu in Thappad, it has truly been a long journey for onscreen fathers in Bollywood. We now have fathers who raise their daughters to be more independent and don’t consider them as paraya dhan. They also hold their sons accountable when they make mistakes, instead of letting them off with ‘boys-will-be-boys’.

Here are five feminist dads in Bollywood films which we loved watching.

Narottam Mishra in Bareilly ki Barfi

In Bareilly ki Barfi, Narottam Mishra is his daughter Bitti’s biggest cheerleader. Living in a town where girls are supposed to play a subservient role to men, Bitty’s father is unapologetic in his support to Bitti to lead an independent life. He raises his daughter to be opinionated and trusts her even when nobody else does. He constantly rebuffs his wife’s claims that a daughter is merely a “paraya dhan”. Rarely do we see Bollywood depicting a father being the happiest amongst all family members when the daughter gets a job. Played by Pankaj Tripathi, Bitti’s father sets a precedent in what a father-daughter relationship should be like.

Sachin Sandhu in Thappad

When the women in the family tell Amrita “thoda bardasht karna sikhna chahiye aurat ko (Woman should learn to tolerate a little)”, it is Amrita’s father who supports her. Amrita’s father Sachin Sandhu played by Kumud Mishra asks his daughter to do what her hearts tell her to. Even stands with her in her decision of walking out of marriage despite her being pregnant. He is gentle and caring, always encouraging his kids to have an open conversation about everything. Reprimanding his son when he treats his girlfriend badly, Sachin Sandhu is a man who breaks numerous patriarchal stereotypes. He is also open to introspect and accept that even he didn’t stand up for his wife during the early years of their marriage. A father willing to accept his mistakesnow that is the kind we want more in this world!

Also Read: Thappad Challenges Our Gaze Towards Indian Marriages

Kamal Mehra in Dil Dhadakne Do

An annoyingly misogynistic man is what Kamal Mehra starts as. He forcefully pushes his son to join the family business even when he doesn’t want to. His daughter wants to seek a divorce because she is unhappy in her marriage, which is also something he doesn’t support. He is also an insensitive husband who hardly cares about his wife’s wishes. But the beauty of this movie lies in the unabashed acceptance of the faults that lie within each human. Mehra played by Anil Kapoor realises his flaws. We see the emergence of a father who is caring and sensitive, one who stands up for his children. And what we need is precisely the same: a progressive change in the fathers of the world.

Jeetendra Kaushik in Badhaai Ho

A man who values his wife’s dignity above what the society says, Jeetendra Kaushik played by Gajraj Rao is an apt example for the cause. He tells his two young boys about their mother’s pregnancy. At the same time, he also makes them aware of the hardship of their situation. He shows his boys how masculinity is not about being strong and never crying. Instead, he leads by example in portraying sensitivity and emotionality as equally manly. It is his devotion to his wife that makes his son Nakul (Ayushmann Khurrana) realize that the value of love and affection. So much so that he [Nakul] goes to beg for forgiveness to his girlfriend’s mother for being rude. Now if that is not the inspiration we want every father to be, then what is?

Bhaskar Banerjee in Piku

Piku’s biggest supporter is Bhaskar Banerjee her father who can never stop appreciating his daughter’s achievements. He is unique in his dismissal of societal norms. Open about his daughter’s decision on love and sex, he’s not the stereotypical dad who dictates his child’s choices. As a single parent, he is proud of raising a daughter who she is capable of holding opinions. And voicing them out loud, too. He is constantly encouraging his daughter to see and think beyond marriage. Bhaskar Banerjee played by Amitabh Bachchan should truly be an inspiration for all the fathers out there!

Also Read: 4 Reasons Why Deepika’s Piku is a Quirky Tribute to Women

In all these films the on-screen kids of these fathers are shown to be fiercely independent, as well as unapologetic about their choices. Their fathers served as examples they could follow. And we need more of such dads  on-screen who show their children, a different side of the father figure — one that is not toxic.

Dyuti Gupta is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

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