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Some Very Unusual Daddys In Hindi Cinema



A K Hangal in Shaukeen

When it comes  to  celluloid fathers  the first image that comes to my mind is  the late actors  Nasir Hussain and  A K Hangal sobbing into their screen-daughter’s  hearts  with  mom memorials  that began with ‘Agaraaj tumhari maa zinda hoti…(if only your mother  were alive today…).”

Time  to put the groan out of  the  parental  zone  with  a look at  dads who were different from the norm. Think of different dads, and the  first image that  comes to mind  is Tarun Bose  in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Anupama who hated his daughter from birth, even if she  looked like  Sharmila  Tagore(who would hate  a daughter that gorgeous?) because his beloved  wife died at  childbirth.

  Hrishikesh Mukherjee  told me this  uncool  dad was  based on a real  character.

Years later Anupam Kher played a  variation  on the daughter-hating dad in  Saajan Ka Ghar. He  wouldn’t even look at daughter Juhi Chawla on her wedding day. Anupam told me  he felt really awful playing such a father  since he  doesn’t have  a daughter of his own and would love to have one.

Amitabh  Bachchan had one in Piku  and that too the leggy and lovely Deepika Padukone. But all he  did was grumble grumble  grumble and make  her life miserable. Mr Bachchan  found  it “very difficult” to play a  nag in Shoojit Sircar’s Piku because in real life he gives  everyone in his family space.Strangely when I saw Anthony Hopkins in The Father  many years  later  I thought of  Mr Bachchan in Piku and  his boundary-less bonding  with his beleaguered beti.

The Bachchan-Padukone  father-daughter act  was so much more convincing in Prakash Jha’s Aarakshan. Jaya Bachchan felt her husband Deepika actually looked like father-daughter in Aarakshan. In Piku he  behaved like her landlord.

 Fun dads are rare  in Hindi films. One of the earliest Daddy Cool in Hindi cinema was  Murad(father of actor Raza Murad) in Mehboob Khan’s 1949  psycho-drama Andaz. Murad not only gave his daughter  the freedom to choose her own husband she was  also allowed to have  male friends  in gender-free associations. It  seemed shockingly  progressive at that time.

Much later Amitabh Bachchan in  R Balki’s Cheeni Kum  befriended a  8-year old neighbour named  Sexy (Swini Khara) . The two spoke  like adults about life and relationships  sitting on the doorstep of  their homes.

I think Mr Bachchan in  Cheeni Kum was the coolest  father-figure  I have ever seen  in a while.

A close second would  be Shashi Kapoor in  Yash Chopra’s Kabhi Kabhie. Shashi  shared drinks and  girlfriend-secrets with his screen son Rishi Kapoor. Yash Chopra told me the  Shashi-Rishi father-son bonding was a wish fulfilment since he  was  not  friendly with his own  sons Aditya and  Uday.

Balraj Sahni  and the little  girl Mini in Kabuliwala is   yet another  filial bonding that stood out in a sea of  schmaltzy  father-daughter relationships.Little  Mini reminds the  dryfruit seller  in Kabuliawalla of his own daughter back in Afghanistan.Some years later ,Hrishikesh Mukherjee cannibalized the  Kabuliwalla father-daughter  relationship  in  Aashirwaad, with Ashok Kumar  befriend  little  Sarika in the park. In present times  this  beautiful bonding  between a stranger and a little girl would be considered creepy.

The  father-daughter equation with all  its inherent  warmth and  compulsive complexities remains largely unexplored in Hindi cinema , obsessed as   it is  with the mother  who  is even  part of the  word cinema.

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