There’s something that Appa and Amma want to tell
Shivam before he returns to boarding school. Dad Nitin Swaminathan offers to drive
him down to school and tell him on the way. But Nitin doesn’t muster the
courage and puts it off until they stop at his parents’ bungalow.
En route to school, the cool teenager who’d rather be
with his pals, keeps commenting on how outdated his dad is. It’s reiterated
when Shivam spots reality TV star Aditya Taneja and gets his autograph while Nitin,
who has no clue who that is, doesn’t give the stranger a lift in his car.
For all that cool, when Shivam hears the secret Appa
has to share with him, he’s shattered into uncharacteristic silence and
rebellion against his father. He even reacts to Nitin when he later lets the
reality star hitch a ride with them. Now that Shivam knows his dad’s sexual
preferences, everything he does is suspect and disgusting.
It would’ve been interesting if the frequent
references to the generation gap had been knitted in to show that Shivam’s
outward cool doesn’t help him wrap his young head around the changing
circumstances at home.
First-time director Tanuj Brahmar bases Dear Dad on the refreshingly different theme
of a teenager grappling with his dad’s sexuality and the break-up of his secure
family. But after that, it’s like the director doesn’t know where to go with it
as he brings in the extremely annoying cliché of a fake baba who’ll cure dad of
There are nice touches like Shivam sprouting a faint
moustache or Aditya the TV star pulling out his goggles before signing an
autograph. It’s also a relief that the director doesn’t create the usual Hindi
film aiyo-aiyo idli-sambar ambience
for the Swaminathans.
Arvind Swamy gives poise,
dignity and variety to the middle-aged dad while Himanshu Sharma is easy as his
son. Aman Uppal who is comfortable as TV star Aditya, is at his best when
trying to bring Shivam around to accepting his dad as he is.
But even at 90-odd minutes, it seems like a journey
prolonged when the film plods on to a final scene months later when Shivam and
a drunken dad get pulled up by the principal for nocturnal shenanigans in the
girls’ hostel. Probably to prove that gay is cool.
For as film that loses direction after a sensible flag-off,
Dear Dad gets a 2.5* rating.
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author