Bollywood enthusiasts would know Arvind Swami from Mani Ratnam’s ‘Bombay’ and ‘Roja’. But very few are aware that the actor starred in the 2016 film ‘Dear Dad’, a LGBT themed film; a fact that is conspicuously missing from the movie’s wikipedia page.
Here’s what the film is really about – A couple decides to get divorced after the husband Nitin (played by Arvind Swamy) comes out of the closet and embraces his homosexuality. He then goes on a road trip with his teen son to let him know about the divorce and his sexual orientation. But will he be able to pick up the courage? And how will his son take the news? That forms rest of the story.
The film completely falls on the shoulder of Arvind Swamy, who carries it with grace. Actor Himanshu Sharma who plays his teen Shivam comes across as your average irritating teenager. The rest of the cast doesn’t get much screen space and are passable in whatever little role they have.
Director Tanuj Bhramar delicately handles this issue and does not succumb to the temptation of too much drama. However, the film does suffer from a slow pace. For example, during the long drive, the camera constantly pans to show a bobble-head figure of Sheldon Cooper, a character from the popular American series ‘Big Bang Theory’. For most Indian viewers the symbolism might be lost – that the actor who plays Sheldon Cooper is gay in real life.
It’s important to note that this film was made before India’s Supreme Court decriminalized gay sex (yes, it used to be illegal). So it was a bold attempt by the makers to tackle the issue. The movie has some really emotional and touching moments that express how stifling being in the closet can be.
While it’s been some time since I saw this film, it came back to my mind after a gay friend on Instagram asked for some LGBT Indian film recommendations. Most LGBT films in India are dark, depressing or too cliched. In comparison, Dear Dad, despite floundering in parts, is a commendable effort that deserves to be watched.
And since it’s still Pride Month, if you are open to watching a Bollywood film, go check this one out. It has a believable and sweet climax.