Mere Paas maa hai… Has been the most iconic dialogue written by Javed Akhtar and has had Indians hooked since Deewar released way back in 1975. From a mother torn between her husband and son to a mother who raises her children all by herself; Bollywood has showcased every aspect of a ‘Mother’ who is capable of doing anything when it comes to her children.
Let us look at some famous on screen mothers of Bollywood:
Durga Khote : She marks the pioneering phase for woman in Indian Cinema. She ranks amongst top ten actresses in mother roles in Hindi cinema. Her role as, Jodhabai in K. Asif’s cult film Mughal-e-Azam where she essayed the role of Dilip Kumar’s mother is most notable. She played Kaikey in Vijay Bhatt’s classic; Bharat Milap (1942) with equal elan as Kaikey had shades of grey in her character. Her other memorable roles as mother were in Charnon Ki Dasi (1941), Mirza Ghalib, Bobby (1973) and Bidaai (1974).
Nirupa Roy: The most favourite onscreen mother of bollywood, played mother to Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor in the legendary film Deewar. The famous dialogue mere paas ma hai made her even more famous as an on screen mother. From a struggling wife of Do Bigha Zameen to a righteous mother she showcased her talent with aplomb.She has several films to her credit including Amar Akbar Anthony, Mard, Suhaag and Mukaddar Ka Sikandar where she played the role of the mother with grit and gumption.
Nargis: The most iconic role played by Nargis is that of a mother in the film Mother India, whose poster with her two kids remains the most used poster for mothers till date. Her character in Mother India will remain immortal in the film industry. In the movie, she was seen ploughing fields, raising her two kids single-handedly, and fighting her landowner ; she truly touched the heart of every Indian. Her real life husband, the late Sunil Dutt played her dacoit son in this movie. She eventually kills her own son to depict the strength of a mother who does not support the misdeeds of her son.
Rakhee Gulzar: A leading actress of the eighties started playing the role of mother in the movies like Karan Arjun, Soldier, Ram Lakhan, etc. with equal ease. She played Amitabh’s love interest in the movie Kabhi Kabhi. After six years she was playing mother to him in the movie Shakti. Her role in Shakti was that of woman torn between a righteous husband played by Dilip Kumar and her smuggler son played by Amitabh Bachchan. She essayed the role so beautifully that her role was no less than that of the male pratogonists.
Jaya Bachchan: She chooses her roles very carefully. She chose to play an onscreen mother in the movie Hazaar Chaurasi ki Maa. This film got rave views from the millions of cine goers. She then played screen mother to Karishma Kapoor and Hrithik Roshan in Fiza. She played a more difficult character in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham where she was stuck amidst her duty as a wife and emotions as a mother. In Kal Ho Na Ho, she was seen as a modern catholic mother to Preity Zinta and sported casual wear throughout the film.
Leela Mishra: The legendary ‘moussi’ of the cult film Sholay; she has played mother in almost 150 films like Shikast, Chitralekha, Awara and Daag to name a few.
Fareeda Jalal: She is the most cute and adorable on screen mother. She played mother to Kajol in the legendary film Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge where she encourages her daughter to dream in spite of her husband’s strict rules. She had also played Shah Rukh Khan’s mother in Karan Johar’s block buster film Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Her enthusiasm in the film is infectious.
Dina Pathak: She is no more, but has left her mark in the industry with some notable performances in Saccha Jhoota, Dream Girl, Umrao Jaan, Prem Rog, Golmaal and the list is endless. She is most remembered for her role in the Rekha and Rakesh Roshan starrer Khoobsurat, where she played the role of a disciplinarian mother who detested Rekha’s bubbly and childish nature. And in Golmaal she stole the heart of millions with her brilliant comic timings.
Achla Sachdev: She is a veteran actor who was last seen in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham as Amitabh Bacchan’s mother and before that in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge as Amrish Puri’s mother. Her initial ventures include famous films like Waqt, Mera Naam Joker, Chandni and Hare Rama Hare Krishna.
Reema Lagoo: She is a director’s favourite when it comes to depicting a typical middle class mother. Her family saga movies like Hum Apke Hai Kaun and Hum Saath Saath Hai are still watched and cherished by people. In the tear jerker Kal Ho Na Ho, she played Shah Rukh Khan’s mother who was always tensed about her son’s ailing heart. She has even played screen mother to Govinda in Jis Desh Mein Ganga Rehta Hai.
Zohra Sehgal: A charming personality, she has played mother to the legendary Dara Singh in the movie Dillagi starring the Deol Brothers, Sunny and Bobby. She was last seen in Veer Zara playing Boman Irani’s mother.
The hero ki bechaari maa who sews clothes to make ends meet no longer appeals the audience. Maa ke haath ka banaya hua khana isn’t staple in this age of Brand Bollywood. The role of mother has undergone mammoth changes in the last few decades.
The dramatic mothers of Bollywood are the clearest reminders of changing times. Earlier, Nirupa Roy and Rakhee would spend most of their screen time shedding tears for their long lost sons. And now, modern mums like Ratna Pathak Shah or Dolly Ahluwalia don’t just eat, but also drink and chill with their kids and their friends.
Gone are the days when the on- screen mothers in Bollywood would sing lullabies in their soft voices, those pain-filled eyes reflecting their sacrifices, their adoring smile and strokes that soothes away fears, their all-encompassing equation with their on-screen sons. From Mother India (1957) to Vicky Donor (2012), the portrayal of on-screen mothers have changed over a period of time. The ‘Maa’ of yesteryear has become ‘Mom’ today. The female character is no longer besotted by the prowess of the chief male protagonist, that she is willing to forego her own identity. —Aniket Raja