“I was once like you are now, and I know that it’s not easy
To be calm when you’ve found something going on
But take your time, think a lot
Why, think of everything you’ve got
For you will still be here tomorrow
But your dreams may not,” reads a popular song called Father and Sons by Cat Stevens.
Here, the father is understanding and like a guide, but not all sons have the privilege of enjoying such a utopic relationship. Sometimes, fathers are abusive disciplinarians who put the pressure of their dreams on their child’s shoulder. Sometimes, fathers are drunkards who cannot take care of themselves, leave alone take care of their son. Sometimes, fathers go missing (the recent Jagga Jasoos is one example) or die, leaving their son alone to grapple with problems.
In Bollywood, there are a lot of instances where fathers aren’t ideal fathers. You can’t call it a norm, since doting fathers are also found – SRK from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai or Aamir Khan from Akele Hum, Akele Tum are some examples.
You’ll see K2H2’s Rahul run all the way to a summer camp in Shimla, just because her daughter Anjali has sneezed. On the other side of the spectrum, you’ll see Amitabh Bachchan, a gangster rant about a tattoo on his hand which reads, “Mera Baap Chor Hai!”
In Udaan, a sensitive film on teenage angst, you’ll see Ronit Roy play a strict disciplinarian who thinks his child has no right to dream, and must follow his instructions to the T. In Taare Zameen Par, Darsheel Safary’s father plays a similar character. In Waqt: A Race Against Time (a movie that made this writer cry at least a bucketful of tears), Amitabh Bachchan plays a rich and loving father who fulfils all his son’s wishes, but when he finds out that his days on this planet are numbered, he takes drastic measures to ensure that his spoilt child becomes more responsible. There are also films where the protagonist doesn’t even know who his real father is – Bachchan’s Laawaris is one film that comes to mind. He think his real dad is a drunkard who lives like a ragpicker, but then, that person tells him that he is a love child of some rich person. Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham’s Rahul (SRK) is another example of an adopted child – but fortunately for him, he gets adopted by a rich business tycoon.
Sometimes, sons play a negative role too. In Baghban, Amitabh Bachchan plays a father who has spent all his life’s earnings to bring up his sons, but when he grows old, his sons treat him like a liability. They don’t give him money to buy spectacles, but buy their son (AB’s grandson) a new pair of shoes. In Gangs Of Wasseypur, both Manoj Bajpai and Nawazzudin Siddiqui play anti-heroes out to avenge their father’s death. In fact, much of Siddiqui’s success can be attributed to that one immortal dialogue – “Baap ka, dada ka, bhai ka, sabka badla lega re tera Faizal.”
Then there’s Anupam Kher in DDLJ, a dad who redefines the word cool. So much so, that when his son (SRK) fails an exam, he praises him. Says that all his ancestors had failed in India, but his son had added to the legacy by failing in London. By far, he is our all-time favourite dad in Bollywood.