Bollywood films are so steeped in classic Indian traditions that fathers and mothers form an integral part of the most storyline; if not directly, then at least tangentially. While films featuring mothers have nearly become immortal in Bollywood annals (Nargis Dutt in Mother India, Nirupa Roy in Deewar, Amar Akbar Anthony, and a dozen other films, Reema Lagoo in Maine Pyar Kiya, et all), fathers have assumed an important role only recently.
Before that fathers made a significant appearance in only certain films, and such occasions came few and far in between. Since 2000, post the Dil Chahta Hai wave, fathers have become friends, philosophers, and guides. More films than ever have focused on the father-son bonding (Waqt – Race against Time, Ferrari Ki Sawaari, Paa, etc.); some even hooked on a dicey father-daughter relationship (Pappu Can’t Dance Saala, Well Done Abba).
7 Best Bollywood Dads
We compiled a list of 7 of the best Bollywood on-screen Dads for a Father’s Day special from us:
7. SALMAN KHAN (Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai)
Salman Khan played Salman Khan in this film – a trend that has barely changed in the last 25 years that we’ve seen him. What makes Jab Pyar Kisise’s Hota Hai’s Suraj a special father is a cool companionship he shared with his on-screen son Aditya Narayan.
There’s this one patch in the movie where Suraj absolutely detests this kid who has shown up at random at his door claiming to be his soon. You would think the manner in which the father-son bond thaws, grows, and develops, would be beyond Salman Khan, but the man pulls it off and convincingly so!
6. KAMAL HASAN (Chachi 420)
It was ostensibly ripped off Mrs. Doubtfire, no doubt … but Kamal Hasan’s turn as Chachi in Chachi 420 was one of the best man-dressed-as-woman portrayals India has ever seen. The actor – director’s crafty ingenuity, ace coming timing, and on-screen chemistry with the girl blended to give us one of our generation’s most popular films that appealed to the young and old and were critically acclaimed (only DDLJ, Lagaan, 3 Idiots, and Dabangg come to mind otherwise) too!
One of the film’s must-watch scene involves Kamal Hasan trying to stop his own daughter from crying while he himself holds back from breaking down in the middle of the son. Just the idea that a father could go to such uncanny lengths to stay connected with his daughter and see her every day makes you want to have a world full of such Dads!
5. AMITABH BACHCHAN (Waqt – Race against Time, Baghban, Virruddh … Family Comes First)
Post Mohabbatein, Bachchan has appeared in a host of films as the father or the elderly statesman full of ethics and virtues, while some were run of the mill, some don’t even deserve a grey cell of memory. Three of his films and performances stand out through – these are shared credits, not shared spots.
Bachchan has always shared terrific chemistry with Akshay Kumar – as a father in Ek Rishtaa and Waqt – Race against Time or even otherwise in Khakhee and Aankhen. In a Waqt – Race against Time, both the actors turned their ham quotient up a notch but allowed the camaraderie to stay warm.
Bachchan’s Ishwar was a buddy, even a bully, but took the harsh step when it came to getting his son to fall in line and start taking life more seriously.
Bachchan’s turn in Baghban will go down the history as the film that revived the traumatic mother-father template of Bollywood. A host of films followed (many with Bachchan), but Baghban stayed special.
Bachchan’s shift as the doting husband dismayed at being separated from his wife to the father who realizes the value he brings to the family holds no respect to the rebellious old man who isolates himself from his children who treated him and his wife like dirt – the veteran changed shades and displayed histrionic dimensions that no actor of his or the next two generations could even imagine too.
Not many have seen Virruddh, but those who have seen it will swear by the fact that it is undoubtedly one of Bachchan’s most powerful performances. A man fighting to get his dead son the justice he deserves, while entangling himself in political sonorities was not a novel character.
But trust Bachchan to display a whole range of emotions – from a happy go lucky pensioner, to a proud father-in-law, to a father having lost his only son to a freak shootout, to a man at war with the police and political class. Virruddh is one of Amitabh Bachchan’s best performances in his second innings.
Tip: Watch out for that scene where Vidyadhar Patwardhan, played by Bachchan returns to his jogging park morning routine after his son’s death; sits in a corner and tries to force a loud laugh along with the senior citizens’ laughter club in the park. Mahesh Manjrekar’s execution and Amitabh Bachchan’s brilliance in this one scene is enough to leave you spellbound!
4. NASEERUDDIN SHAH (Masoom)
G.K is married. Happy with his wife and two daughters. And then his world comes crashing down. Past shows up in the form of an illegitimate son – Rahul (played by the overwhelmingly cute Jugal Hansraj).
Masoom was really about Shekhar Kapoor’s narration and execution, followed by Shabana Azmi and Jugal Hansraj’s performances, followed by Naseeruddin Shah’s portrayal of the distressed but willing father.
The seasoned performer so wonderfully underplayed his character that as the film draws to a curtain you start wondering that was it Rahul who changes Azmi’s mind, or was it the father’s conviction in his son that forced her to change it.
3. RISHI KAPOOR (Do Dooni Chaar)
A middle-class Delhi mathematics teacher juggling school, coaching classes, prankster students, tight finances alongside insane family demands for cars and refrigerators.
There’s no chance on any planet in all of the solar systems you could’ve imagined Rishi Kapoor doing this, especially given his track record as the funny and romantic chocolate boy who refused to get out of the image even as he went past 40. But boy did Kapoor Sr. stun you and how!
He was so banging on target with his Dilli dialect and simplistic teacher portrayal that he nearly pushed out all his co-stars over the edge, and that includes his wife Neetu Kapoor.
That scene at McDonald’s where an ex-alumnus turns up and reminisces about his memories attached with ‘Duggal sir and his scooter’ and forces Santosh Duggal to change his mind is a little too Bollywood but bang on target as the climax. Watch Rishi Kapoor duck out of that situation, first emotionally … then comedically – DAZZLING!
2. UTPAL DUTT (Golmaal)
Utpal Dutt’s Bhavani Shankar is something of a cult icon! The oft-done “Sirf Aloo ke Paraathe hi kyun? Calcutte ka Rajbhog khilaunga, Agre ka petha, Mathura ka Peda aur Banaras ka Kalakand. Khao Beta. Khaoge nahin to taakat kaise aayegi?” is one of the best comic declamations in Hindi cinema, and it needed an actor of Utpal Dutt’s talent to pull it off.
The traditional and quirky patriarch leading too much of an ideal life could have easily turned into a hated man. But Hrishikesh Mukherjee left it too Dutt to turn into one of Indian cinema’s finest comic parts.
1. DILIP KUMAR (Shakti)
It is somewhat of an irony that one of Hindi cinema’s greatest talents played a variety of father roles in his white-haired days but none except Shakti and Saudagar made any mark.
The greatest disaster remains Vidhaata. Coming back to Shakti, it was the supreme coming together of two of Hindi cinema’s greatest idols – Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan. In hindsight, Shakti was all and all Dilip Kumar’s entity. Bachchan’s job was just to stand up to him and match him, and he did that superbly.
Strained father-son relationships are easy to go haywire as acting to ‘hate’ can sometimes go overboard, but trust the thespian to depict a character that exhibited love, pain, anger, and discontent with his son at the same time. Shakti’s climax starting with “Ruk jaao Vijay warna main goli chala doonga” to “Vijay mar gaya” was one of the finest on-reel acting show existing on Earth.
There are many more examples of terrific father performances in Bollywood – Prithviraj Kapoor (Mughal-E-Azam), Ashok Kumar (Aashirwad, Khoobsurat, Khatta Meetha), Aamir Khan (Akele Hum Akele Tum), Amrish Puri (Gardish, Virasat, Hulchul), Anupam Kher (DDLJ, Saaransh, Daddy, Kya Kehna), Faaroque Shaikh (Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani), etc. Drop-in your picks in the comments section below if you don’t find them here. We would like to hear from you.