If one character distinguishes Hindi cinema from the rest of the world, then it is the Mother. No other country in the world has so many different variations on the mother-son relationship as in Bollywood.
So, here goes a list of the ‘categories’ of moms in Hindi cinema and the most famous moms!
Starting with Nargis in the eponymous film, this is the self-righteous mother who puts nation, honour and duty before son. So, the son may have killed a guy double his size for her and may have brought her an apartment block but she would still give him up for greater good of society. Or worse, shoots him!
Nargis showed the way as he gunned down her dacoit son to save the honour of the village. The mother’s dilemma between love and duty was brilliantly articulated when Nirupa Roy (in Deewaar) handed over the gun to her police officer son and ‘blessed’ him – “Goli chalate waqt tere haath na kaanp jaaye…” and left for the temple immediately afterwards. “Ek aurat apna farz nibha chuki hain. Ab ek maa apni beta ka intezaar karne jaa rahi hain.”
Agneepath’s mother (Rohini Hattangadi) was a watered-down version of this character as she was content in berating her son for his gangster ways and promptly forgiving him when he promised ‘to return to the village’.
This character received a 180-degree makeover in Aatish in which the mother (Tanuja, I think) defended her smuggler son’s (Sanjay Dutt) actions to her police officer son (a wimpy Atul Agnihotri), by pointing out that his elder brother’s criminal takings had funded his education and career.
MOM TRIVIA: Deven Varma in Khatta Meetha is shown as a guy desperate to get married. He sings a quirky song in the film - “Mummy O Mummy, tu kab saas banegi?”
Reema Lagoo broke off her B-grade shackles and emerged as the nation’s coolest mother as Maine Pyar Kiya became the first movie to have a ‘mom’ instead of a ‘mother’. Here was a really cool lady who threw darts, was okay with a bob-cut (though not for her own daughter-in-law), actually mouthed the word ‘mini skirt’ and even dyed her hair. She was such a relief from the grey-haired, saintly souls that she had millions of similar roles to do after that one!
Farida Jalal of DDLJ was the other iconic representation of the Hip Mom – as she asked her daughter about her dream man and even egged her to elope! Her son-in-law was, of course, a chauvinistic wet blanket and he refused to run without the dad’s permission… Somebody slap him!
After these two, almost each one of the Chopra genre movies has had a variation of this kind of mom.
MOM TRIVIA: In the film Maa, Jaya Prada is killed after her baby is born and she hovers around her baby as a ghost and her pet Labrador Retriever takes care of the baby (by feeding him, rocking him to sleep etc).
Now, there are the moms who are after blood. It is usually the rebellious daughters-in-law’s blood – though property, villainous uncles and children from the husband’s earlier marriages bring about similar levels of dementia.
Aruna Irani in Beta had one such epic battle with her daughter-in-law (Madhuri Dixit) as the step-son (Anil Kapoor in the most undeserved title role of all times!) looked on, smiled foolishly, got torn between the two super-heroines and finally got poisoned before rising from the dead to save his mother!
Of course, in all such ‘social’ films, the mother never dies. She just reforms.
Bindu and Lalita Pawar are the most famous practitioners of this genre. As I have said before, Bindu’s role is Biwi Ho To Aisi is one of the greatest examples of unintended hilarity in Hindi cinema.
MOM TRIVIA: Mahesh Bhatt is yet to show a married mother in any of his films probably because his own mother was the ‘second’ wife of his father. Even a light romantic film like Aashiqui had this.
These are the Single Moms – women who are punished for having sex before getting married. Actually they did get married in the eyes of God but that does not count. So, their object of affection either dies on them or deserts them after impregnating them on first attempt. (New parents, who have had the recent trauma of following ovulation cycles, would obviously want to hammer the screenwriter!)
They are left to a life of sacrifice and determination to bring up their sons (always sons!) so that they can roshan names or take badla! It was the former in the case of Aradhana as Sharmila’s son grew up to be yet another dashing Air Force pilot (in an iconic scene, described here). It was the latter in the case of Trishul as Waheeda’s son grew up to take on top industrialist RK Gupta for his mother’s humiliation (with a line like “Jisse apni maa jko roz thodi thodi marte dekha ho, usse maut se kya darna?").
Mandakini in Ram Teri Ganga Maili probably comes in this same category but nobody remembers anything from that film except the waterfall song!
MOM TRIVIA: Saawan Kumar Tak (of Souten fame) made a film initially called Mother 98 (because it was supposed to release that year) but was released as Mother some three years later! It had Rekha in the title role and the object of the game was to find out which of her three lovers was the father of her daughter. The contestants were Rakesh Roshan, Jeetendra and Randhir Kapoor.
These are the terrible mothers who abandon their families either on the provocation of evil relatives or (even worse!) for pursuing a career.
The desi version of Kramer Vs Kramer – Akele Hum Akele Tum – had Manisha Koirala leaving super-chauvinistic-really-atrocious hubby (Aamir Khan) to put fight for a film career. Just as Karisma Kapoor left Aamir (again!) in Raja Hindustani at the behest of her ‘evil’ mamaji. What’s with him? Even his real wife is rumoured to be leaving him!
But the Bollywood mom NEVER leaves her children. So each one of them came right back, sacrificing wealth and career to be with their brats!
Of course, these films are several years old. Now, with Google AdSense, you can be with your babies AND have a career! So, what if your AdSense banners are all about Harassed Husbands?
And finally, there is this one Filmi Mom – who is the reason why I wrote this post as well as why I could.
She still remembers dialogues from 1960’s films, laments that the quality of Stardust is not what it used to be and is really angry with Amitabh for not inviting Shah Rukh for Abhishek’s wedding. To say it in a filmi manner, “... aur khush kismati se woh meri maa hain.”
Happy Mothers’ Day to all moms out there!