Films about parenting often have a tendency to focus on the mother’s dominant role in raising a child, the father’s role often being condensed to the “head of the family”. However, the role of a father-figure is far more significant in a child’s life as they become the pillars to their children’s emotional development and enable them to develop a sense of trust and security. Here are some of the most heartwarming films about male parenting:
The Pursuit of Happyness
The 2006 biographical drama starring the real-life father-son duo Will and Jaden Smith tracks the life of struggling San Fransisco salesman Chris Gardener, as he gains custodianship of his five-year old son Christopher Jr. Based on the real-life story of Christopher Paul Gardner, the movie is a heartwarming tale about fatherhood as it highlights Gardener’s struggles with homelessness and unemployment and his untiring efforts to ensure his young son’s well-being and safety.
The Lion King
A Disney classic, The Lion King has fatherhood at the heart of its epic tale of pride and royalty. Released in 1994, Lion King shows Mufasa as the driving force of the movie’s plot, where even dead, he imparts Simba the strength and motivation to overcome the obstacles of life.
Moreover, the release of the Lion King remake in 2018 with central roles voiced by actors such as Donald Glover, Beyonce and Chiwetel Ejifor became a cultural phenomenon in reworking the classic Disney movie as seeking fatherhood and personal identity within the social landscape of the black community.
Another Disney (Pixar) production, this 2003 animated tale about the clownfish Merlin’s search for his young son Nemo lost at sea is an epic tale about the father-son separation and reconciliation, probing their delicate relationship despite being physically distanced from each other for majority of the movie. The forced separation of the family unit shows little Nemo navigating unchartered waters, voicing the fears and desperations of every parent through Merlin’s relentless efforts to retrieve his son. Finding Nemo expresses the unending love of a parent and the extent to which they can go to ensure their children’s safety and security, depicting one of the greatest fundamental fears of humans- losing their family.
The 1983 drama film starring Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi and Jugal Hansraj in leading roles offers a unique perspective of fatherhood through the lens of illegitimacy and acceptance. The film centers around the picture-perfect familial life of DK (Naseeruddin Shah) and Indu (Shabana Azmi) which is rashly disrupted when DK’s illegitimate son Rahul (Jugal Hansraj) resurfaces after his mother’s death. The multi award-winning film is sure to change your traditional perceptions on fatherhood by taking you through the journey of DK’s reluctant acceptance into the role of fathering his illegitimate son, as DK’s guilt, Indu’s reproach and Rahul’s ignorance to his father’s identity are trumped by innocence, love and forgiveness.
The 1974 Mehmood starrer is an adaptation of the 1921 classic American Chaplin drama “The Kid”. Like its American counterpart, Kunwara Baap depicts Mehmood in the role of a surrogate father of sorts as he is led to adopt an abandoned newborn from the steps of a temple after he develops Polio, and shows his gradually growing love for the unknown child. The tragic drama shows how the poor rickshawala, despite bearing any blood relation to the orphaned infant, raises him as his own, their unique and unusual bond bearing testimony to how filial bonds aren’t what make a father- it is love, compassion and acceptance that do.
Though falling under the genre of science fiction, the 2014 Christopher Nolan directorial has the delicate father-daughter relationship at its heart. Described as a “letter to (Nolan’s) daughter” by cast member Jessica Chastain, the film with all its complex scientific theories and phenomena ultimately posits love as “the one thing that transcends dimensions of space and time”. As Nolan remarked “For me, the whole movie is about what it means to be a dad”, Cooper’s (Matthew McConaughey) fatherhood culminates to the driving force of the science thriller as the fate of the gradually deteriorating Earth rests on a father’s determination to fulfill his promise to his young daughter.
Starring Chris Evans and McKenna Grace in leading roles, Gifted narrates the story of the young seven year-old prodigy Mary Adler (Grace) and her uncle Frank Adler (Evans), her de facto guardian. Caught in a nasty custodian battle between her grandmother and uncle, the film has the precious uncle-niece relationship at its core, depicting Frank’s emotional struggle as a devoted father-figure fighting a legal battle to provide his niece with a “normal” and happy life.
Kramer vs Kramer
The American legal drama explores the delicate parent-child relationships during the sensitive period of custody battles. Set in the milieu of custodian battle during the 1970’s cultural shift with changing ideas of parenthood, the film shows the unlikely bond that develops between the workaholic father Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) and his son Billy Kramer (Justin Henry) as Ted fights for his newfound relationship with his son in battling for custodianship.
The 1993 comedy drama starring Robin Williams in the titular role paints the story of Daniel Hillard (Williams) paying the role of the devoted father as he goes through ridiculous ends just to spend some more time with his estranged children. Underneath the comedy of Robin Williams’ eccentric disguise as the fussy housekeeper “Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire” lies the efforts of a doting father to reconnect with his children against all odds.
102 Not Out
The 2018 comedy drama is a comedic view at fatherhood in old age, eliciting laughter as well as tears at the hilarious but heartwarming parent-son relationship between the 75-year old Babu and even older 102-year old Dattatraya. Starring Bollywood veterans Rishi Kapoor and Amitabh Bacchan as the son and father respectively, the film is an introspective view of fatherhood in old age. With the much older Dattatraya trying to convince his 75-year-old son Babu to join an old-age home, the film posits an unusual take of parenting while still maintaining its light-hearted tone.
(image source- IMDb)