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Father’s Day: Irrfan Khan to Aamir Khan, meet Bollywood's reel feminist fathers

Happy Father’s Day: Bollywood previously portrayed fathers as stuck up and strict, however with changing times, the portrayal of fathers in Bollywood has evolved too and more and more paternal figures on screen are moving away from patriarchy and toward feminism.
Irrfan Khan and Radhika Madan in Angrezi Medium played the perfect father-daughter duo.(Angrezi Medium)
Updated on Jun 19, 2021 12:53 PM IST
By Alfea Jamal, Hindustan Times, Delhi

Happy Father's Day: Feminism and patriarchy have become the latest buzzwords and dominate conversations across every aspect of life, whether it's entertainment or politics. And when one thinks of these words in relation to Bollywood, some classic examples come to mind.

Bollywood has typically always portrayed fathers as sanskaari and conservative men who adore their daughters but always treat them as 'paraya dhan', think Amrish Puri's passive-aggressive behaviour towards Kajol throughout Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, or Amrish Puri and his absolute disregard for his daughter's (portrayed by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) happiness in Mohabbatein.

Or Amrish Puri's character in practically any movie where he has played a father, in fact, the late actor was the epitome of 'stereotypical, strict Indian dad who doesn't let up until the last minute'.

However with the turn of the century, much like in real life, onscreen dads have also come a long way. Now, most father figures - both fiction and non-fiction, are portrayed as assertive but understanding people who encourage their daughters to go after what they want as opposed to the usual 'locking them up because they have a crush on a boy'.

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Be it Irrfan Khan's character in Angrezi Medium, who goes to all lengths to help his daughter achieve her dreams, or Aamir Khan's portrayal of wrestler Mahavir Phogat, whose guidance and encouragement helped his daughters Geeta and Babita become world-class wrestlers, Bollywood's depiction of fathers has changed drastically, and for the better.

Father's Day is celebrated in India annually on the third Sunday of June. This year it will be celebrated on June 20, 2021. This day is celebrated to honour paternal bonds, fatherhood, and the influence of fathers in society, and the following on-screen Bollywood dads are the perfect example of the new generation of feminist fathers. From Mahavir Phogat in Dangal to Narottam Mishra in Bareilly Ki Barfi, here are some of the most positive onscreen daddy-daughter relationships.

Champak Bansal in Angrezi Medium

Irrfan Khan has always given some of the most endearing performances in Bollywood, and the late actor’s final performance before his death, much like most of his work, is etched in the memories of all his fans. Irrfan portrayed the role of Champak Bansal in Angrezi Medium, a small town business owner who refuses to give up on his daughter's (portrayed by Radhika Madan) dream, no matter the cost.

Radhika Madan and Irrfan Khan in a still from Angrezi Medium

The movie follows the heartwarming relationship between the father and daughter, in the absence of a maternal figure. From ensuring she drinks her milk to supporting her every dream, Champak Bansal is the ultimate feminist, who does not let himself or his daughter get defined by stereotypical gender roles. The movie also featured Kareena Kapoor Khan, Deepak Dobriyal and Kiku Sharda.

Mahavir Singh Phogat in Dangal

Inspired by true events, the story of Mahavir Singh Phogat is truly one for the ages. The movie starts with Mahavir, portrayed by Aamir Khan, who has to give up on his successful wrestling career to make ends meet for his family. However, at the back of his mind, he always wishes to either go back to wrestling or make his children become the best in the field, possibly in the hopes of living vicariously through them. However, when he doesn't have a son, despite the physical requirements of the sport, Mahavir throws his daughters Geeta and Babita into the playing field and stops at nothing to give them the training, guidance, and encouragement they need to become the world-class wrestlers they are today.

The poster of Dangal

While some portions of the film do seem like the conditions the girls were subjected to were too harsh for them, others showcase that Mahavir Phogat was convinced that his daughters could achieve any goal they set their minds to despite coming from a conservative Haryanvi community. Other than being an inspirational true story, the stellar performances are why the movie was a record-breaking hit for a reason. The film also featured Sanya Malhotra and Fatima Sana Shaikh in leading roles.

Anup Saxena in Gunjan Saxena : The Kargil Girl

Janhvi Kapoor and Pankaj Tripathi in Gunjan Saxena

Inspired by true events, the story of Gunjan Saxena, portrayed by Janhvi Kapoor, would be incomplete without the role her supportive father, Anup Saxena, portrayed in the movie by Pankaj Tripathi, played in helping her achieve her dreams. The actors brilliantly portrayed the powerful relationship between the father-daughter, which shows Anup going against the world to help Gunjan achieve her dreams.

Narottam Mishra in Bareilly Ki Barfi

Kriti Sanon and Pankaj Tripathi in Bareilly Ki Barfi

Pankaj Tripathi once again portrayed a feminist and woke dad, although he had a more fun spin playing the role of Kriti Sanon's onscreen character, Bitti's super loving father, Narottam Mishra. And other than the usual cheerleading, Tripathi's character also doesn't mind sharing the occasional cigarette and peg of alcohol with his daughter despite being in a conservative small town like Uttar Pradesh's Bareilly.

While most fathers rush to force their daughters to marry the first suitor, Bitti's father loved her enough to let her get away with anything and always built her up to be her own person. The adorable relationship between the two is truly aspirational. The movie featured Ayushmann Khurrana, Rajkummar Rao, and Kriti Sanon in the lead roles.

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