“You will be remembered as a dad who did everything he could to save his family”, says Abha while eating her breakfast. Abha is the character from the recent show on Amazon Prime Breathe: Into the shadows Season 2. Now doing everything here means tossing innocent people whom you don’t even know into a dumb yard or over a cliff. All this while still hoping to save (trusting your kidnapper keeps his words) your daughter in captive. You are still cool with it when you also know that your final count will be ten people when you complete the killings.
Now if you think this is just an OTT TV series, let me take you to the Hollywood movie Skyscraper. The father with an amputated leg walks into a crane positioned at the 96th floor. He then jumps into the 225 storied burning building to save his family. Later his wife escapes the burning building with their son to safety. She also displays the same calmness while watching her husband jumping around or hanging around from the 96th floor while trying to save their daughter. Their composure gives you the chill not because they are not afraid of the imminent danger but to the tacit understanding that this is an everyday job of the dad.
Back home, a Malayalam movie Drishyam fascinated people with its unique storyline of an ‘enterprising’ middle-class dad. He successfully tricks the police department to hide a crime committed by his daughter in self-defence. At one point, he reveals the truth to the grieving lady officer who never gets to see her son’s body. While parting, he says emphatically, “I am sorry, I can’t show your son’s body because I have to protect my family”.
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Earlier when an onscreen dad says, he will do everything, it only meant he would put in any effort within his capacity. He will be ready to shell out his entire wealth to save the kidnapped children while seeking the help of law enforcement authorities. Not any more, dads are now superheroes existing solely for his family. He is smart, intelligent, cunning, ruthless, and fearless. He doesn’t care for humanity outside the four walls of his family boundary wall. To save his family, he will make numerous families daddy-less. He will burn down an entire building or even teach his family how to cheat the authorities by repeating lies multiple times.
Contrast this to the dads a decade ago. Dads were usually a laughing stock in famous shows like Friends or Big Bang Theory. The moment they enter a scene, you can expect some jokes at their expense. They are usually clumsy, almost always absent and mostly useless. Quintessentially, they will be the root cause for all your adult life problems. They didn’t care for you; they were not there for you; they were only interested in work and sports; they didn’t allow you to chase your dreams; the list goes on. If they were of any use, it is to elicit some laughter. With the metamorphosis of modern-day dad, all the grieved dads now stand vindicated. Wait, are they?
Movies often reflect society, and sometimes culture too gets influenced by the films. Young minds often grow up seeing these contrived portrayals of people whom they relate to in real life. The chances are high that they might superimpose these images on to their real dad, always left wanting for more from their dads. I am a dad of two, and if you ask me to jump to the 96th floor to save my two sons, I will surely faint.
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If I am Dr Avinash played by Abhishek Bachchan in Amazon Prime Breathe: Into the shadows, I will tell the kidnapper without thinking twice, “No, I can’t kill people though I love my child”. Real dads are strong, but they are also prudent. They are courageous, but they also have healthy fears. Of course, they love their children but not at the expense of fundamental human values and principles. They are often role models for their children. They love, instruct, guide, protect, they toil hard to bring them up. They are the real dads most of us saw growing up. Let’s bring back that real dad to the reel please, or am I asking for too much?
Oh! Wait, now, the Mommy image is also undergoing similar metamorphosis onscreen. From the complaining mother in 3 idiots to the daring mom in Penguin, mommies have come a long way. But that is a story for another day.
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