Behind every assured, independent and successful woman is a man – the very first one in her life, her strongest rock and her softest cushion. History and research show the solid impact that fathers have in shaping their daughters’ personalities, careers and self-esteems. The gutsiest girls in politics, the highest pitchers in music and the smartest minds in business all have one thing in common – paternal support and guidance that they could count on during their formative years, whether they chose to follow their fathers’ footsteps or decided to go against the grain. We list some inspiring father-daughter duos that are our shining examples.



While growing up, Indira Gandhi was not able to see much of her father, due to his political duties, constant travels and imprisonments. But the magnitude of his influence moulded her from a frail, somewhat sickly young girl into a formidable powerhouse, and a legacy bearer of India’s first political family. Their correspondence through letters spanning more than 20 years has been compiled in a volume; the notes help us understand their strong but complex relationship.

Apart from the occasional doting and affectionate exchanges, their dialogues were mostly discussions about philosophies, ideologies and methodologies. Nehru was a guru and a guide to his daughter, but also saw her as an equal, whose intellect needed to be respected. Gandhi’s idolisation of her father was also balanced by her critiques of his policies that she did not agree with. What united them was their love for India, and their common vision of a golden future.



Weeks after her birth, Sofia Coppola was famously baptised in a shoot sequence for her father’s epic, The Godfather, and that was the start of her relationship with cinema, first as an up-close-and-personal observer, then as an actress and finally as a director. She learned her craft from the best, but worked on developing her own style, going on to become a critically acclaimed director without succumbing to the pressure of Coppola senior’s legacy.

While her father’s visits to the sets of her films always make her nervous, she says that with each passing directorial, she attempts to grow more and more independent, without having to consult him for advice and guidance at every stage. And papa is proud of his princess; in a chat with Interview magazine, he expressed his admiration of her minimal style, wishing that he were able to keep his own work as ‘stripped-down’ as hers. As an ode to his precious, he even named a range of wines from his vineries Sofia. Fatherly love in a bottle. We say, cin cin!  



The ‘60s pop icon and flower-power siren has mentioned in many of her interviews that her motto has always been, “Nancy Sinatra will never be the man that her father was.” This philosophy stemmed from the best piece of advice that her legendary dad gave her: to stay away from what he did.

This did not mean that Nancy should not pursue music, but should find her own ground instead of shadowing the Frank Sinatra genre of effervescent swing. Taking these words as gospel, she formed her own unique blend of rock-pop-country and managed to do the impossible – be an individual artist in her own right. The warmth and comfort of their relationship reflected in the shows that they did together; Sinatra often used to consult her father before taking professional decisions. They created a best-selling, sparkling musical gem called ‘Something Stupid’, which perhaps captures their finest moment together.



Anoushka Shankar began taking her first sitar lessons from her legendary father on a miniature instrument that he had specially crafted for his daughter. By age 14, she was travelling the world with the maestro, accompanying him on stage for recitals. During the tutorials, though, their relationship became one of a guru and his pupil, respecting the practices and codes of Hindustani classical music.

Pandit Ravi Shankar’s mastery over his craft inspired her as much as his openness to collaborating with musicians from different parts of the globe. A cross-cultural upbringing, overseas travels and exposure to various sonic genres have made her one of the best known exponents of world music, but with a solid and supreme command over the sitar.

As the version 2.0 of the Shankar tradition, she creates a modern sound using the ancient instrument, through her collaborations with contemporary artists, including electronic producers. It is a distinct, Anoushka Shankar blend. When you hear it, you know. 



Being a sportsperson, discipline was second nature to former badminton world champion Prakash Padukone, a quality that he and his wife instilled in both their children. For daughter Deepika, heartthrob of tinsel-town, her disciplined upbringing has helped her score big points in the film industry – her professionalism is her most admired quality by colleagues. Raised as a modern, independent and self-reliant girl by a father who helped with the housework, the actress has always been encouraged to think for herself, take her own decisions and make her own career choices. Despite being trained and proficient in the shuttle sport, Padukone junior opted for the fashion-to-films route, and always received her family’s support. Proud papa Padukone has been a stellar backbone; maintaining that he respects his daughter’s professional and personal assessments, shrugging off any attempts of the gossipy media at stirring controversies. Inheriting her dad’s calm dignity, our favourite girl has reached the pinnacle of Bollywood on her own grit, with so much poise.



From the time she was nine, Shabana Azmi was the first critic of her father’s literary works; so much so, that if a word did not sound right to her and if she pointed it out, he would change it. A self-confessed daddy’s girl, Azmi has drawn inspiration all her life from the beautiful verses penned by her late abba, the celebrated poet and lyricist Kaifi Azmi.

Growing up in a household that hosted meetings of India’s communist party, the actress and activist was surrounded by electrical intellect, debates and discussions, where she was always invited to participate.

She has stated that her father was a ‘feminist’ who encouraged her to think for herself, criticise unjust practices and stand up for her rights. The Mijwain Welfare Society was started in 1993 by Azmi saab in his ancestral village, a humanitarian organisation that built schools and craft centres to educate girls and provide livelihood skills to local women. A legacy that his accomplished daughter proudly carries forward to this day.



Real estate mogul Donald Trump started prepping daughter Ivanka for her role in his companies from the early age of six, sending her renderings of buildings with little notes which said that he was waiting for her to grow up and work with him. The elder of the Trump girls is a key board member of The Trump Organisation, involved in all of its property and hotel related projects, and also its lifestyle divisions. While she always knew that real estate was in her blood, she explored the fashion arena with a successful modelling stint, and is now an entrepreneur with a retail label under her own name. Her father is confident of her ability to channel his industries with competence, and feels that she is a natural in the conglomerate habitat. For her, growing up with a silver spoon also came with the realisation that the more the wealth, the bigger the responsibilities. And now that papa is a presidential candidate, she is a prime support source for his campaigns. Politics may just be their new playground to conque


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