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As Angrezi Medium releases, ranking the top 8 single-father daughter films, from Mili, Masaan to Somewhere, The Descendants

I bet you are expecting to see Kamal Haasan’s Chachi 420 in this roundup of devoted fathers. In Chachi 420 (1997), Haasan, plays a divorced dad who pretends to be a nanny (clad in a sari accompanied by a big bindi), so he can spend more time with his daughter. The performance not only was widely acclaimed but also has long found its brick in the ’90s nostalgia wall.

However, times are changing, and so is cinema. From pitaji to bauji and to now dad, the fathers in films have come a long way. A man running a household may not seem unconventional but if the sole male breadwinner is single and also a father, the situation can easily draw empathy. From widowers to dads mid-divorce, movies have featured a swath of men trying to do bring up their kids right, despite difficult circumstances.

In the recently released film Angrezi MediumIrrfan Khan essays the role of a doting father to Radhika Madan. Khan is a small-town simpleton who owns a sweet shop but is ready to bend over backwards to get his young daughter a foreign education.

Here is a shoutout to some of the most memorable and emphatic fathers of cinema, ranked in order of preference.

Mili – Jaya Bachchan and Ashok Kumar

 As Angrezi Medium releases, ranking the top 8 single-father daughter films, from Mili, Masaan to Somewhere, The Descendants

Jaya Bachchan, Ashok Kumar | File Image

Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s cinema was rooted in heart. His stories, ordinary in nature, were invested in the trials and tribulations of the common man, layered with lighthearted humor.

In Mili (1975), Jaya Bachchan plays the affable, effervescent young girl battling a terminal disease. Her exuberance and charm is so contagious she is loved by all, even her nosy neighbors. Ashok Kumar essays the role of Mili’s father, who is tied down by his helplessness, and is yet somehow holding on to a hope that his daughter will survive. There are no secrets, no inhibitions, only laughter, and sometimes, even pranks if Mili desires.

Towards the climax, we witness the duo at their vulnerable best. When Mili learns her condition has worsened, she stumbles across the house, and goes to her father’s room. She sits at the edge of his bed, and cries her out, pleading her father to save her from the inevitable. With no control on the situation, Kumar is at loss of words. He silently embraces her as the duo comes to terms with reality.

Masaan – Richa Chaddha and Sanjay Mishra

Richa Chadha, Sanjay Mishra in a still from Masaan | File Image

Richa Chadha, Sanjay Mishra in a still from Masaan | File Image

Sex, caste, poetry, corruption, and death powerfully come together to form a hauntingly beautiful story in Neeraj Ghaywan’s Masaan.

Richa Chadha plays the fiercely independent Devi, who gets involved in a scandal with her partner. Sanjay Mishra, as a conservative father to the headstrong Devi, brings a certain sensibility to the character. Caught up in the bureaucratic troubles, Mishra’s Vidhydhar is forced to cough up Rs 3 lakh in three months to save Devi from being ‘shamed’ publicly.

While both struggle with their personal emotional turmoils, their affection never seems laboured, even when they toil to scramble money. Vidhyadhar’s adulation for his daughter becomes more evident when Devi reveals her plans to move out of Varanasi. He breaks down like a little kid, pleading her to stay back.

Somewhere – Elle Fanning and Stephen Dorff

Elle Fanning, Stephen Dorff | Twitter

Elle Fanning, Stephen Dorff | Twitter

Sofia Coppala’s, Somewhere, of an absent movie star-father and daughter seems to come from a personal place.

Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), a movie star in his late 30s, seems estranged from the city in which he lives. Separated from his wife, Johnny is adrift between movies. He is either in his hotel suite, ingesting a seemingly endless succession of cigarettes and beer, or bedding multiple partners. However, things begin to change when his 11-year-old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) makes an announced visit.

Overtime, she becomes motherly in an unobtrusive way, occasionally expressing discreet disapproval, and accompanying Johnny on a publicity visits. Cleo’s arrival soon sets the stage for Johnny to discover the joys of fatherhood — and also a key to his personal redemption.

Piku – Deepika Padukone and Amitabh Bachchan

Deepika Padukone. Amitabh Bachchan in a still from the film | File Image

Deepika Padukone. Amitabh Bachchan in a still from the film | File Image

Shoojit Sircar’s Piku is one of the most commendable films which explored the dynamics of a modern-day father-daughter relationship. The film, though is hard to put in a box, is it a road movie, a romantic movie, or a family comedy?

Deepika, its eponymous Piku, is an urban upper class working woman who may seem like an ill-tempered scold, driven to distraction by her father’s (Amitabh Bachchan) obsession with his bowel movements, whose potty talk finds its way to her office meetings. And her dates are disrupted by correct remedy for constipation.

With age, Bachchan’s Bhaskor has gotten difficult to deal with. He is demanding, stubborn, and downright eccentric. However, Piku knows that after a certain age, parents need their kids, a thought she later confesses to Rana (Irrfan Khan). Though Bhaskor may come off as an overbearing father, he is heartwarmingly supportive of her career, and does not discourage her casual sex life. During a dinner table conversation, Bhaskor unabashedly shares he does not want Piku to get married, and asserts real emotional commitments always stands in the way of a person’s success.

Definitely, MaybeAbigail Breslin and Ryan Reynolds

Ryan Reynolds | Twitter

Ryan Reynolds | Twitter

Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds) is in the middle of a divorce, an event that prompts his daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin) to become curious about who her dad dated before he married her mom. In order to tone down his romantic past, Will tells her the story of three different women — never letting on which is her mother — and ends up teaching her love is not as easy as it seems sometimes (Better and shorter version of How I Met Your Mother!). The experience brings this father-daughter pair closer as they discover things they never knew about each other.

Searching – John Cho and Michelle La

Searching has been told completely from the point of view of computer and smartphone screens. Image via Twitter

Searching has been told completely from the point of view of computer and smartphone screens. Image via Twitter

At a first glance, filmmaker Aneesh Chaganty‘s Searching may seem like a cautionary tale about the dangers of the internet. Though the film unfolds entirely on screens, including laptops, phones, and security cameras, the technology thriller premise is much more than that.

Searching is a dad’s (John Cho) desperate hunt for his daughter gone missing. When David’s (Cho) messages go unreturned, he plunges into his daughter Margot’s (Michelle La) social media history to piece together her state of mind.

The Descendants – George Clooney and Shailene Woodley

The Descendants | AP

The Descendants | AP

George Clooney, in The Descendants, oscillates between intense personal pain and uneasy comicality. Clooney as Matt King is an attorney based out of Honolulu, and is nursing his comatose wife Elizabeth (Patricia Haste), who suffered brain damage in a boat accident. He has two girls – Alex (Shailene Woodley) a rebellious teenager who is struggling to come to terms with a lot of personal angst, and a pre-teen Scottie (Amara Miller), whom he struggles to bond with while nursing them through this period of grief.

Based on a 2007 novel, the film is about complexities within family, tenuous relationships, tragic losses, and how grief becomes easier to deal with when shared with closed ones.

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga – Sonam Kapoor Ahuja and Anil Kapoor

Sonam Kapoor, Anil Kapoor | Twitter

Sonam Kapoor, Anil Kapoor | Twitter

The first mainstream Hindi film that, somewhat tremulously, broaches the theme of same-sex love, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga is easy to relate to owing the layered family dynamics of it. When Sweety Chaudhary (Sonam Kapoor Ahuja) comes of age, her father (Anil Kapoor) must find a suitor. However, Sweety has a  secret that would not sit well with the family.

Directed by Shelly Chopra Dhar, the film is a sensitive, tender, and humour-laced melodrama that hinges on the relationship between a lonely, misunderstood small-town girl and her doting father as he learns to come in terms with his daughter’s sexual orientation.

All images from YouTube.

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Updated Date: Mar 13, 2020 12:45:10 IST

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