Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui directed by Abhishek Kapoor, even though not a major leap, was a baby step towards the right direction. After the long (and painful) history of LGBTQ+ representation in Hindi cinema, the film came as a breath of fresh air when it delved into a trans-inclusive story.
But if we are looking on the bright side, the film did push the envelope by treating the subject with sensitivity that’s essential for the premise. Among the few things the makers did differently in Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, they introduced us to the ways parents can be an ally and confidante to their queer child.
Bollywood films have, for decades, put that responsibility on mothers' shoulder.
But with changing depiction of fathers in cinema, we more often come across feminist, sensitive and more hands-on dads now.
This time, joining the league was Maanvi’s father, Mohinder Brar, played brilliantly by Kanwaljit Singh. Despite her family’s disapproval, which includes Maanvi’s own mother, she finds an ally in her father, who a child (trans or not) needs.
In the few minutes of screen-time that Kanwaljit's character had, he was seen coming to terms with his daughter's transition. Rather than making it difficult for his child, he choses to unlearn the bias and misinformation surrounding gender identity.
And he asserts, through words and actions, that Maanvi's gender-identity has not even slightly influenced his affection towards his child. He stands as a pillar of strength for her so that she can fight her battles.
In a scene, Mohinder regretfully says that he feels helpless as he cannot do anything for his daughter. However, Maanvi is quick to imply that he doesn't need to stand as a shield for her. But staying by her side is the biggest strength he can provide as a father.
Watching Bollywood films while growing up, I have rarely seen fathers in our films as the ones you would go to for comfort.
Witnessing supportive and sensitive father characters is the change we need for a long time. And we are glad the recent films have acquainted us with a few inspiring Bollywood dads.