Bollywood Mothers – Then & Now!

Home/FEATURES/BOOKS, MOVIES & TV, INDIA/Bollywood Mothers – Then & Now!

Bollywood Mothers – Then & Now!

When Shashi Kapoor uttered ‘Mere Paas Maa Hai’ in the movie Deewar, whistles and clappings thundered through theatres all across the country. Tears rolled down the cheeks, hearts smiled and audience swelled with pride at the thought of having a Mother in their lives too! From the grey-haired, sari-clad, tear-shedding Maa to fashion-conscious, career-oriented, happy-go-lucky Mom, Bollywood Mothers have come a long, long way.

It’s been over 30 years since that famous line and ever since the world took notice of the significance of Mothers in reel life, nevertheless, the legacy is still intact, and has been aptly carried forward by many actresses who portrayed the role with utmost gusto and passion. Back then, Mothers were an indispensable part of every script, and while the movie would have a hero and a heroine, it was most definitely have a Mother too.

In the 1960s Mothers were often showcased as ailing, sacrificing and helpless beings, portrayed fabulously by seasoned actress, Leela Chitnis in movies like Ganga Jamuna and Guide. But as time progressed, Mothers too moved forward in a new direction. 1970s was an era of evolving cinema and cinematic brilliance that gave us such masterpieces which are loved, cherished and discussed even today. Loving, caring, and courageous, Mother of 70s was the ideal Mother that every man and woman wanted to have. Nirupa Roy was the quintessential Mother of the 70s and had significant role in flicks like Deewar, Amar Akbar Anthony, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar amongst many others. There were a fleet of other actresses who made fabulous Mothers to leading men and women. Durga Khote of Bobby and Bidaai, Manoj Kumar’s screen mother, Kamini Kaushal of Poorab Pascham and Roti Kapda Aur Makan, and Sulochana Devi of Johny Mera Naam and Pehchan are still fondly remembered today.

The period from late 70s through 80s saw realistic Parallel cinema coming of age, and this spell saw the emergence of a new movement, new packaging, and new artists. Who could forget Dina Pathak as the fake mother of Amol Palekar in Gol Maal or the strict mother of Rakesh Roshan in Khoobsurat.

Taking a giant leap, camera shifted focus from small budget, Art movies to big budget, commercial flicks. 90s belonged to Mothers. They wore designer sarees, loads of make up and fashion jewelry. They were conservative yet modern, authoritarian yet friendly with their kids. We all still remember Reema Lagoo as the new-age mom in Sooraj Barjatya’s Maine Pyaar Kiya, Hum Aapke Hai Kaun and Hum Saath Saath Hai, and Farida Jalal in blockbusters like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. 90s also showed us another facet of Mother – the widowed, angry woman, played often times by Raakhee Gulzar in movies like Baazigar, Khalnayak and Karan Arjun.

In the 2000s, Bollywood factory started churning out movies that had contemporary flavor, interesting storyline and technical advances, which not only catered to home audiences but the global mass. Mothers too underwent tremendous transformation and started doting on new roles. The new responsibility came in the form of single Mother who took care of her children and business. You talk about single Mom and it instantly conjures up images of Kirron Kher in Hum Tum and Om Shanti Om, Jaya Bacchan in Fiza and Kal Ho Na Ho, and Rekha in Koi Mil Gaya and Dil Hai Tumhara. This period also saw emergence of glamorous, unconventional moms like Shabana Azmi in Honeymoon Travels, Lilette Dubey in Monsoon Wedding, Dimple Kapadia in Pyaar Mein Twist, and Anuradha Patel in Aisha and Ready. The latest offering is in the form of Dolly Ahluwalia in the 2012 spectacle, Vicky Donor. There, she is a unique Mother, one who has no inhibitions about sharing a drink with her mother-in-law!

Last but not the least, we have Nargis, the Mother of all Mothers. Breaking the clichés of cinema, Nargis agreed to do the role of Radha, the fiery, single mother of Rajendra Kumar and Sunil Dutt in Mother India, when she only 28 and at the pinnacle of her career as the leading lady!

From yesteryears to this year, Mothers of Bollywood have stayed put, undertaking all kinds of roles and responsibilities and working their way up to carve a niche’ for themselves in a so-called hero-heroine dominated world. Needless to say, they all came, conquered, and in the present day while they bask in the glory of the past, they have most willingly passed the baton to the next generation of Moms. The legacy continues…


  1. VIWA July 18, 2012 at 7:25 am - Reply

    @ Mala – Thanks. 🙂

  2. roh July 17, 2012 at 11:12 pm - Reply

    These days the dialogues between two heroes (apparently brothers ) are more likely to be as follows (because we hardly get to see “mothers” now ) :-

    Hritik : Aaj mere paas bangla hai, gadi hai, naukar chakar hai, bank balance hai. Tumhare paas kya hai ??

    Abhay : Mere paas bhi bangla, gadi, naukar aur bank mein paisa hai..

    Hritik : Aeeee, toh phir maa kis ke paas hai ????


    • VIWA July 18, 2012 at 7:13 am - Reply

      @ Roh – ha ha…this is so cool…

  3. dhannirdoshsubba June 29, 2012 at 9:56 am - Reply

    Nice..great Indian Women!

    • VIWA July 14, 2012 at 7:56 am - Reply

      @ Dhannirdoshsubba – Thank you for reading.

  4. Mala June 25, 2012 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    Interesting one…

Leave A Comment