If there is one relationship in this world which trumps everything else, it is that of a mother and her child. In cinema too, this relationship has been explored well. After all, the mere paas maa hai segment remains one of the most iconic scenes of all time.
The characters of mothers though have evolved over the years.
Nirupa Roy school of being a mother (1970s)
Long back, mothers were often struck by misfortune (probably their husband died or went missing) and usually poor. Take the case of films like Deewaar, Suhaag or Amar Akbar Anthony. Who can forget the infamous Shirdi Wale Saibaba song from Amar Akbar Anthony. A blind woman (played by Roy), finds her vision when she visits Shirdi where her son is belting out a devotional number that has since become a favorite of beggars nationwide.
The Rakhee school of being a mother (1990s)
Even though Karan Arjun’s Rakhee may have been presented as a typical, unfortunate mother who loses her two sons to villains – her role transcends to something else when she declares that ‘Mere Karan Arjun aayenge!’ They may drop from the cloud, or rip through the ground, but they’ll come and take revenge. This belief showed that in fact, Rakhee’s faith was the main force behind Amrish Puri’s (the villain’s) downfall. Afterall, what else could make two dead people come back with identical faces?
The Farida Jalal school of being a mother
With Farida Jalal and Kirron Kher, mothers finally stopped being poor and unfortunate. They became funny, caring and more of a life guide than a liability. In Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Farida Jalal was a strong woman who helped her kids, rather than the other way round. There’s a scene in DDLJ where she packs all her jewellery and gives it to SRK and Kajol, so that they can run away and get married. Not many mothers would promote such a thing, but Farida Jalal could pull off a character like that with grace. In K2H2, she has several funny scenes and is as much of a comedian as someone like Johnny Lever.
Then there’s someone like Kirron Kher, who too could play the strong mother with grace in films like Devdas and Dostana.
The Ratna Pathak school of being a mother
Ratna Pathak’s character in Jaane Tuu Ya Jaane Na, was one of the pioneers when it comes to depicting modern mothers. Since then, Shefali Shah in Dil Dhadakne Do played a peach of a character and showed how high society mothers really are.
Is there something that we would like to change about mothers in Bollywood? Yes, more actresses – like Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla, need to start playing mothers, because we need to see them on screen more often.