Parents in Sports Films

In India, sports as a career is considered unconventional and hence a lot of parents freaks out when their kid informs them about an active interest in the same. This is why most Indian sports films have the parents’ character as an important character in the film. The characterization of parents in these films has gone through a change through the years and I'd like to talk about some of their journeys. 

The Disapproving Parent

A decade back when a kid told his parents about his passion in sports, he would be advised to shut up and concentrate on studies. Ghilli (2004) brilliantly captured this scenario. Velu is a star Kabbadi player in the Tamil Nadu team but his father disapproves his playing. Hence he is scared of his father and hides his group photos and trophies post victory, instead of showcasing it. Parents disapproving sports can also be seen in Chennai 600028 (2007), Jeeva (2014) and even in M S Dhoni’s biopic (2016). M S Dhoni’s father is disappointed by his decision to quit his government job to continue playing cricket. 


The Supporting/Motivating Parent

The films slowly started to show a shift in the outlook of these parents, with them supporting and motivating their kids to have a career in sports. Dangal (2016) is a film based on a true-story about a father who wants his two daughters to win a gold medal in wrestling. Mahavir Singh Phogat, a former wrestler wants his daughters to take ahead his dream of winning gold for India. In fact he becomes a task master & a coach to them. Another film that has a supporting father to an aspiring daughter is Kanaa (2018). Murugesan a farmer, motivates and supports his daughter to play cricket against her mother's wish and the village’s general perception towards a girl playing cricket.


The Retired Sports Parent

In the last two years there has been a role reversal in the characterization of parents and kid. The films have a parent who is a retired sports person and his/her kid encourages the parent to play the sport again. Jersey (2019) is about Arjun, who is a retired cricket player getting a chance to play cricket again. His biggest motivation to play again is his son, who tells him that he looks like a hero while playing cricket. Panga (2020) is another film that anchors the same idea of Jersey. Jaya retires from Kabadi after marriage, but gets back to play it after her son’s encouragement. In fact he is the one who wakes his mother up for practice. 

Its amazing how the role of parents has seen a paradigm shift through these years in sports film. I am looking forward to more creative characterizations of parents in sports films.  


Written by,

- Suruj S

Khandoba Salunkhe September 20, 2020

That’s a very keen observation and the trend is apparent now that you’ve pointed it out. Hope the motivational quality of the character grows.

Ganesh shyam September 20, 2020

Nice article. No matter the category in which the “Fathers” fall, they have always been influential someway or the other.

Jay Bal September 21, 2020

A unique perspective on sports films. Never seen such observations before from a neutral point of view. I am eagerly waiting for your next post.

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