Why ’daddy’ gets it wrong!

Dads always want sons to be more successful than they were. We have, over the years, heard some very ‘filmy’ dialogues that say ‘a dad’s greatest victory is when his son does better than him’. Should be true. Dads are sometimes very eager to see their sons do extremely well, so much so that they tend to lose the real perspective. The impartial evaluation is very important to make the right judgments. And most fathers, how much ever successful they might have been in their respective fields, are not able to take an objective view of what is best for their son. Now, this is the general stuff. What does it have to do with cinema? Well, there are two professions in our country where heredity can help a lot. One of them is politics and the other of course is cinema. Instances where dads launch their sons are dime a dozen in the Indian film industry. Whether this is good or bad is a tricky question to answer. That is because over the last decade or so, we have had a few good actors who have been launched with great fanfare by their dads under their home production banners. But, there are also many instances when an attempt to provide a great launch pad has backfired.

Dads tend to get carried away while directing their sons, especially when it is his debut. Even the best filmmakers of our times have faltered while trying to launch their sons. One among them is Bharathiraja, the director credited with taking Tamil cinema out of the confines of studios to the outdoors. The man, who directed landmark films like Kizhakke Pogum Rail and Karuthamma, seemed to have lost his magic touch when launching Manoj in Taj Mahal. It is hard to believe that the director who was instrumental in introducing some of the most popular artistes in Tamil cinema, including Karthik, couldn’t deliver the goods when it came to launching his son. It is not that Bharathiraja has never delivered another flop, but the error frequency when dads direct their sons is surely undeniable. Take for instance what happened when T. Rajendar launched Silambarasan with Kadhal Azhivathillai. Again, this is not to claim that whatever TR has touched has turned to gold, but he has delivered big hits in his time and by now we know that Silambarasan is an actor who can do fairly well in any role. Yet, Kadhal Azhivathillai failed to capture the imagination of audiences. Similarly, S.Ve Shekhar couldn’t put together a good script for his son Ashwin when he launched him in Vegam. The man who is known for his rib tickling jokes and gags, a part of many hits in his days, strangely failed to produce those signature moments of humor. There was undeniably a tendency to tilt towards a star image for his son, rather than emphasize on a good script. This was the first time that S.Ve Shekhar was part of such a movie. As an artiste he has known to be extremely selective about the films that he is part of, but his selection policy seemed to have eluded him while launching his son. Pandiarajan tried to launch son Prithvi in the same mould as his, but couldn’t produce his humorous touch. P. Vasu, hit maker who made the stupendously successful Chandramukhi in 2005 could not get the equations right for his son Shakthi in his debut Thottal Poo Malarum in 2007. All star sons who have went on to become stars in their own rights are those who have been allowed to chart their career independently. Instances when dad has launched son successfully are quite few, like Kasthuriraja’s launch of Dhanush in Thulluvatho Ilamai.

Instances of dads not getting things getting it right when it comes to their son’s films are prevalent in other industries as well. Bollywood is replete with such instances. Recently, Harry Baweja went way off target while launching his son Harman in Love Story 2050. The master director of Malayalam film industry, Fazil delivered an absolute dud when launching his son Shanu in Kaiyethum Doorathu. Perhaps, the only director to have launched his son in a hugely successful manner is Rakesh Roshan who made Hrithik Roshan an overnight phenomenon with Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai.

When we talk about dads have been unsuccessful in launching their sons, it is also important not to forget another prominent trend; that of brothers. In Kollywood there are two glowing instances where brothers have been able to complement each other extremely well. Dhanush’s career has been greatly enhanced by his association with Selvaraghavan, so has Jeyam Ravi’s career been taken to great heights by his association with elder brother Raja. Venkat Prabhu made a promising comedian out of an aspiring musician, Premji.

What is the reason behind the big error rate when dads handle their sons in movies? Maybe, being overcautious or overenthusiastic is the problem. Dads always want their sons to be on top of the world. Aiming for the sky and not even managing to reach a treetop is something that many of us have experienced. It is always important to be realistic about anything that we are doing. But, it is difficult for a dad to be realistic about his son. Maybe that’s why we see even famed directors losing their calibrations when they direct their sons. A very good example to illustrate this is the scene from Vasool Raja MBBS. Here, Prakash Raj tells his students that the most important thing to be a good doctor is to be unmindful of the person whom one is treating. There should be absolutely no emotion involved. The patient must be seen only as a body that needs to be treated, the name of the person, his position in society should not be of concern to the doctor. Only then will mind be focused and the hands remain steady. Prakash Raj then tells that if he has to operate upon his daughter, then his hands may tremble; because he loves his daughter and that emotion gets involved. It seems to be a similar case with directors launching their sons. They know that a false move can land their son’s career in trouble. It is this emotion that makes even the best in the business make uncharacteristic mistakes.

In the large scheme of things, this might look insignificant. The number of films where a dad directs his son is few and far in between and in terms of impact upon the industry it might be inconsequential. But, it is indeed interesting to observe.

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