Weepy mothers rule Bollywood
Bollywood cinema invariably chooses to focus on the mother-child relationship, wrenching tears and emotions out of the "Mother India" and "Deewaar" formula of filial fulfilment.
By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
From Mehboob Khan's "Mother India" to Farah Khan's "Main Hoon Na...", moms suck up to their sons as though their wretched lives depended on this.
Except for "Anupama" -- where Hrishikesh Mukherjee portrayed a troubled father-daughter relationship between Tarun Bose and Sharmila Tagore -- fathers are mere fixtures and not a genuine presence in their children's life.
One recent film to break the matriarchal mould is Farhan Akhtar's "Lakshya", where Hrithik Roshan's troubled relationship with his dad Boman Irani is far more evenly sketched than his rapport with his mother.
Hrithik's character makes peace with his dad.
If only "Devdas" had the same luck. In Sanjay Leela Bhansali's classic literary adaptation, the protagonist goes through life while suffering the emotional whiplashes of his father's hostility and finally dies without making peace with the man who sired him.
In fact, the father-child relationship forms a fundamental core of Bhansali's cinema.
In the monstrously underrated "Khamoshi: The Musical", the physically challenged over-possessive father Nana Patekar's domination over his daughter Manisha Koirala's life was passionately delineated.
For the first time we entered the world of a father's largely unexpressed thoughts and feelings.
In Bhansali's second super-classic "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam", Salman Khan's ongoing dialogues with his dead father were taken straight from Bhansali's own trouble tormented relationship with his father.
In Sachin's "Aisi Bhi Kya Jaldi Hai", the director played an over-possessive father who can't bear to see his darling daughter (played by Shristhi Behl, daughter of the late producer Ramesh Behl in her only screen sojourn) getting married.
The film was clearly adapted from the all-time favourite Hollywood comedy "The Father of The Bride".
The heart-warming evergreen was made twice. First in 1950 by Vincente Minnelli with Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor playing the father and daughter, then again in 1991 by Charles Shyer with Steve Martin and Kimbley Williams.
In both versions the mother was put in the background of the dramatic conflict.
Ramesh Behl directed Amitabh Bachchan and Neelam in the father-daughter film "Indrajeet". The film bombed and so did the Bachchan's fatherly act.
Fathers are generally shown earning the family's keep, while the mother and the child are shown forming a cosy emotional bond.
Apart from Bhansali, the only directors to have recently unveiled the troubled relationship between father and child are Anubhav Sinha and Aditya Chopra.
In Sinha's "Aapko Pehle Bhi Kahin Dekha Hai", an adaptation of the Robert de Niro comedy "Meet The Parents", Om Puri was the over-possessive father checking out his daughter's boyfriend with a microscope.
In Aditya Chopra's "Mohabbatein", Amitabh Bachchan's over-possessiveness destroys his daughter Aishwarya Rai's life.
Fathers in Hindi films tend to be portrayed as the hyper-strung parent pacing the corridor while daughter dear is out on a date. In Yash Chopra's "Kabhi Kabhie", papa Shashi Kapoor shocked conservative audiences by being a chum to his son Rishi Kapoor.
Twenty-five-years later, Aditya Chopra's "Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge" showed Anupam Kher giggling over girlfriend problems with son Shah Rukh Khan. Mom was thrown out of the train of thoughts!
Sad to say, a strong dramatic film on the father-child relationship like Franco Zefferilli's "The Champ" or Robert Benton's "Kramer Versus Kramer" is yet to be made in Hindi.
Sure, Indra Kumar recently tried to remake "The Champ" as "Rishta" with Anil Kapoor playing the over-possessive single father. But Mehmood did the single-father act much better in his tragic-comedy "Kunwara Baap".
In Mehmood's quirky comedy "Ginny Aur Johhny", Mehmood and his real-life daughter played Ryan O'Neal and his real-life daughter Tatum's roles from "Paper Moon".
But these were half-baked efforts.
Mansoor Khan's "Akele Hum Akele Tum", did a much better job of adapting "Karmer Versus Kramer". Aamir Khan and his screen-son shared some truly heart-warning moment on screen, as did Naseeruddin Shah and Jugal Hansraj in Shekhar Kapur's "Masoom".
In Suneel Darshan's surprise hit "Jaanwar", Akshay Kumar gave a moving performance as a single father.
According to the actor, a lot of the emotional resonance was derived from his feelings for his father who was terminally ill when "Jaanwar" was made.
But these stray examples cannot equal the power and glory of Nargis' rapport with screen son Sunil Dutt in "Mother India" or Shabana Azmi's emotionally overpowering love for her son in Pravin Bhatt's "Bhavna".
As far as filial feelings go, Hindi cinema is definitely a woman's world!