Mother's Day Special: The Hindi film mother has been a work in progress, but she's finally arrived
Time and again, we have trivialised Hindi film mothers to be dramatic and not realistic.
From the era that gave us dialogues like 'Mere paas ma hai…' to the times when mom became a friend, the concept of motherhood as depicted in our films, has changed.
Farida Jalal (Lajjo) in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge was a hybrid of modern ways and traditional values. She always wanted her daughter to be happy and not compromise on what she wanted. In the film, the daughters may be petrified of their stern father (Amrish Puri) but the minute Raj (Shah Rukh Khan) asks Simran (Kajol) about her friends, she tells him that she never needed one, as her mother is the best friend she has got.
The modern Indian woman has evolved and so have our films. Even today, our screen mothers are ready to kill for their children but the ways in which they express their love, have changed. She can protect her child in any situation.
When I saw Paa, which was a father-son story, I was awestruck by Auro’s mother, Dr Vidya (essayed by Vidya Balan). She is strong, funny and self-sufficient, never giving up on her child. She made everything around Auro so normal that nothing would hurt him even for a second — even the absence of his father. She clearly mentions that just by lending sperm, no one becomes a father. She is ready to give her child the world on a platter.
I love this change that we see in Hindi cinema today. No one drops a ‘thali’ and screams ‘nahinnnn’ for anything anymore! Rather, we sit down to have conversations and confront everything head-on, even molestation.
Vidya Balan does wonders when she plays the mother. In Kahaani 2, Durga Rani Singh adopts motherhood by saving a student from her ghastly family members. She is ready to face the volatile consequences that rise. The essence of the mother is the same, but today we don’t see her being submissive or regressive. She has flaws, she is vulnerable as she is made of flesh and blood after all. She has her voice, a multi faceted personality and a heart that beats for her child unconditionally.
The Hindi film mother has been a work in progress for a very long time. Today, she even shows a side of hers which probably, some years ago, she would not have. Ratna Pathak Shah (Sunita) in Kapoor & Sons is so endearing but she does not love both her sons equally. While one is her perfect kid, the other is not so much. She wants her perfect kid to be so perfect that she even goes and steals a novel from her other child. She might be blinded by love, but that does not make her a bad mother. She is trying to fix something while she can, as her husband's adultery is something she can't.
Ratna Pathak Shah has essayed all the mothers' roles she's portrayed on screen, so well. Be it in Khoobsurat as Maharani Nirmala Devi Rathore, a strict royal matriarch, or in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na as Savitri Rathore, or even in Sarabhai vs Sarabhai where she takes being protective to another level, as Maya Sarabhai — Pathak Shah is excellent in all these parts.
Not all mothers have it easy, of course. Shabana Azmi (Rama) in Neerja is the sweetest mother you’ll ever come across. If Neerja’s fate was to be a hero, then that’s what she learnt from her mother all along — to light up someone else’s world if given a chance. That's also what Swara Bhaskar’s life goal is, in Nil Battey Sannata as Chanda. All she wants is for her daughter to break out of the life they are living by studying hard and making something of herself. Honestly, this is the sweetest film I have seen which depicts the mother-daughter relationship beautifully. Yes, she does more than what is in her power for you but there are days when you just don’t get it. You simply don't want the pressure...
It is so refreshing to see mothers be so many things on screen. In Ki And Ka, Swaroop Sampat has raised an independent daughter (Kareena Kapoor) and does not object to her decisions and the way she wants to lead her life. But that does not mean that she doesn't have a life of her own. She does whatever makes her happy and in the process she makes you happy too.
After all, as the saying goes: in order to love someone else, you need to love yourself first. And it seems like movie moms finally got the memo.
Happy Mother's Day!