The horror-comedy Stree was one of the finer laugh riots to release last year, which boasted of exceptional performances and some truly memorable dialogues. 

However, when I revisited the film, the one thing that stood out just as starkly as Pankaj Tripathi’s hilarious one-liners was the relationship that Vicky (Rajkummar Rao) shared with his father (Atul Srivastava). 

Vicky is raised by a single parent, his father. And right from the start, it’s apparent that the two share a warm relationship, characterized by abundant teasing and an understanding bond. 

More than that though, in just a few brief scenes, it is obvious how proud Vicky’s father is about his talents as a tailor, even though he rebukes Vicky for not understanding the family business. 

He is also extremely understanding and open-minded. When he thinks that his son is paying for sex, he sits down with Vicky to have a sex talk. It’s important to note that even when he is taunted for his son’s ‘wild urges’ and asked to ‘control his son’, he does not get angry and scold Vicky. 

Rather he chooses to discuss sex and hormonal urges with his son. It is clear that he is uncomfortable with the conversation (like most parents), but he doesn’t let his personal discomfort stop him from having the conversation. 

In fact, he even normalizes masturbation – like it should be – when discussing sexual urges with his son. In a country where many people still look at masturbation as a sin, or a vulgar act, Vicky’s father treats it as a normal action. 

It’s refreshing to see a Hindi language film treat sex with the normalcy it deserves, and for a father to openly discuss sex and masturbation with his son. 

However, what really stands out about Vicky’s father is the way he treats Vicky’s mother. It’s much later in the film that the audience, and Vicky, discover that his mother was a prostitute. 

*A special mention of how Rudra (Pankaj Tripathi) tries to normalize this information, while still making it a humorous scene.*

Vicky’s first reaction is complete shock, quickly followed by hurt over his mother’s choice of profession. Drunk – on emotion and alcohol – he even calls out his father. However, instead of shouting back at his son, he silently leaves the room – perhaps aware of why Vicky is reacting in this manner.  

More importantly, it is obvious throughout the film that Vicky’s father always gave his mother the kind of respect and love that she deserved. 

He also must have fought society to ensure that no one judges or teases Vicky because of his mother – something that is far too common in real life, in small towns and metro cities. And that is what helps even Vicky accept his mother for who she was. 

Stree may have had its faults, but the message it tried to send across, through its central subjects and side stories was crystal clear – to not let gender affect the way a person is treated or judged. And the way Vicky was raised by his single father was a prime example of this. 

All images from Netflix, unless specified otherwise. 

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