My Rating: 5/10
Dear Dad is a 2016 Indian film about a father coming out to his teenage son. Nitin has recently come out to his wife, and they decide that he’ll drive his son to a boarding school and along the way, have the ‘talk’. Beware Spoilers.
Now I want to preface this review with two facts about myself so that you can know where I’m coming from on this topic. 1: I’m Canadian. I’ve never been to India; I know very little about India besides what I’ve seen in movies. So cultural things likely have gone over my head. And 2. My dad came out as gay in the 90s. My brother did not take it well, so I have experience with the subject matter, just from the perspective of people in a different culture at a different time, and those personal experiences will naturally colour my opinion of the events in this movie.
Okay, that being said, in the first half, this kid is fucking shitty. It’s hard to find out your parent is gay when you live in a time and place where being gay is treated like a crime or a disease or both. A lot of fears go through your head, and kids are kids: most of them are going to worry about how it changes their life—how it affects them. And a lot of them are going to act out in shitty ways.
BUT, the kid in this movie doesn’t just pull a tantrum about it, he goes on a little shitty adventure to try to make his dad straight again. He ends up poisoning the man! Honestly, he could have killed him. And even then, he doesn’t show a lot of remorse. Even then, he behaves like a shitty mini bigot. There’s a point where acting like a bitchy teenager who treats their parents like shit crosses over to acting like a terrible human being, and there were a couple of times this character crossed that line.
That pissed me off. So much. So, so much. Maybe because the topic hits so close to home. I won’t spend the whole review ranting about that, though, I promise. I’m going to move on to the shit I like in a moment, but I want to say one more thing about the son character.
In the second half of the movie, he’s much better, but there’s an issue I had with the storytelling. He doesn’t actually do anything to redeem himself besides just suddenly, without being prompted or doing any work for the change of heart, accepts his father. It bugs me that we didn’t get to see any sort of journey towards acceptance, or him facing any sort of consequences, internal or external, for almost murdering his father for being gay. One minute he’s a bigot, and a quick musical montage later, he’s not. It’s unsatisfying and makes it difficult to grow to like this kid.
I loved the emotional scenes in this movie. They were believable as hell. Nitin, played by Arvind Swamy, is sympathetic as hell. He’s confident and gentle, not cliché, and not too ineffectual, even when he doesn’t seem to know how to deal with his son’s hatred, and he’s enormously forgiving. Arvind did an amazing job portraying this character and all the mixed emotions that come with it.
I honestly don’t know if I liked this movie. I liked moments of it. Other than that lack of a redemption arc, it was acted well, written well, directed well, and had some breathtaking scenery. I think that lack of lessons learned after such dangerous bigotry is, for me personally, bordering on unforgivable.
It may be worth watching for Arvind’s performance alone. There’s some bonding he does with a hitch-hiker that’s actually kinda moving too. I’m not going to recommend this movie, but I absolutely would not call it a pass either.
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If you’ve read any Regency Romances, you’ll likely recognize the formula of All in With the Duke by Ava March. Grumpy Lord + Disgraced/downtrodden pretty boy = love and class-related dilemmas in the way of that love.
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Sam Clover is an author of M/M dark romance. She swears like a sailor, gobbles up horror movies and m/m books like they’re going out of style, and runs an erotica discord server.
She’s Canadian, pansexual, demi-sexual, atheist, humanist, and loves all things sea-related. Especially pirates… And sea creatures. And Storms, waves, water, seaside villages, weathered wood, sea glass, delicious seaweed, and everything else that ever existed in the ocean at any time.