Maa, Maatr, Mother and other Mother’s Day movie memories

Priyanka Chopra Jonas played a mother in an unforgettable performance in her maiden Hindi production, The Sky is Pink. Photo: Publicity Photo

Hindi cinema is replete with noble, self-sacrificing, long-suffering, motivating, inspiring or very, very ideal mothers along with those few egoistic, foolish, dominating and selfish moms, like the rare, brilliant turn by Aruna Irani in Beta.

But we have always had a cinema wherein mothers are special, to the exclusive point where the children, even grown-ups, are the pivots of their existence. In fact, we can rarely see a completely dysfunctional relationship where the child has to think, Kya itna bura hoon main maa? (Am I such a bad child, O mother?) as we heard in Taare Zameen Par.

The film titles on mothers

On Mother’s Day, here’s looking at some films that were even titled on mothers and motherhood.

To date, we have had four films titled Maa, four named Mamta (a mother’s special love), three movies named Maa Baap, as well as Maa Baap Ki Laaj, a Maa Beta and a Maa Beti, Maa Ki Mamta (self-explanatory!), Mamta Ki Chhaon Mein (Under the shade of the mother’s love) that Kishore Kumar had launched with Rajesh Khanna and Leena Chandavarkar, Maa Aur Mamta, Maatr—The Mother and the greatest of them all even commercially—1957’s Mother India, which also was the name of an older 1938 film.

In 2000, we even had Mother. On a potboiler note, we even had Maa Kasam and Maa Ki Saugandh (which were revenge dramas wherein the oath for action was taken in the name of the mother). Maa Ka Pyar, Maa Ka Aanchal, Maa Ke Aansoo and Maa Bahen Aur Biwi. The latest film to make a mark of sorts was Sridevi’s Mom, which even won the actress a posthumous Best Actress award.

Interestingly, other than Mother India, in which a fierce and feisty widowed mother (Nargis) dares to shoot her errant son (Sunil Dutt), none of these movies was a blockbuster or even a hit, though a few were average successes, like the 1966 Ashok Kumar-Dharmendra-Suchitra Sen film, Mamta, based on a Bengali story and with evergreen music by Roshan to lure audiences for a repeat watch.

Raakhee was mother to Salman Khan (Right) and Shah Rukh Khan in Karan Arjun. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

Mothers of note

The most powerful mothers we thus saw were in films not specifically titled after mothers, like Deewaar (in which Nirupa Roy shoots her errant son, Amitabh Bachchan, in Mother India fashion), Karan Arjun (in which Raakhee prays so hard for the destruction of the evil man who killed her sons, played by Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan, that the two are reincarnated with the same faces to complete her mission of passion!), and Baghban (in which Hema Malini finally joins Amitabh Bachchan in teaching a lasting lesson to her sons who ill-treated them).

Also impactful in a modest way was Sharmila Tagore’s turn in Amar Prem, wherein she plays a protective mother-figure to an ill-treated son, played by Vinod Mehra. In Mere Apne, similarly, Meena Kumari plays a long-suffering widow who is like a mother to two gangs led by Vinod Khanna and Shatrughan Sinha and ends up sacrificing her life in a bid to end their warfare.

On-screen images

Over time, we have had generations of actresses who specialized in playing moms on screen. Sulochana, Achala Sachdev, Durga Khote, Leela Chitnis and Kamini Kaushal were the first choices for playing long-suffering old women who had to deal with ill-behaved daughters-in-law and wayward or unlucky offspring. Nirupa Roy could well be added to this list, with the qualification that she would also often lose her children and then find them, grown-up, by the end of the film! In this category, especially in a few Manmohan Desai films, was also added Indrani Mukherjee.

Veena played the sterner version of a mother quite often, as did, occasionally, Achala Sachdev, Durga Khote or Kamini Kaushal.  The evil or shrewish mother-in-law (and thus mother to the leading man or lady who married her offspring on screen!) was either Lalita Pawar (an all-time hot favorite) or sometimes, Leela Misra and Shashikala. Bindu in Biwi Ho To Aisi was another example.

As time went on, and mothers became normal, middle-aged women, Reema Lagoo, Farida Jalal and Kirron Kher took centerstage, the latter being the fiery, often comic Punjabi hausfrau.

And just like Durga Khote, Kamini Kaushal and Lalita Pawar, many lead actresses turned to motherly roles as time went by—Nutan, Waheeda Rehman and Raakhee leading the list.

We even had those double roles of mother and daughter by names like Suchitra Sen (Mamta), Sharmila Tagore (Mausam), Hema Malini (Dus Numbri), Sridevi (Lamhe, Khuda Gawah) and Amrita Singh (Kala Dhanda Goray Log), though the calibers varied, and it was not every time that the two came face-to-face.

Many a times, stereotypes were also broken, like with Jayapradha’s stunning dual role as mother and daughter in Sanjog, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s gritty Jazbaa, Revathi’s outstanding Margarita with a Straw and Priyanka Chopra Jonas ditto as mother to a physically-challenged daughter in The Sky is Pink (both these films were directed by Shonali Bose), Vidya Balan straddling Paa as the mother to another challenged son in Amitabh Bachchan (!), Sridevi’s English Vinglish in which she is taken for granted as much by her husband as her children, Tabu as the bereaved mother of a wayward son in the Drishyam franchise, or Jaya Bachchan finally asserting herself with her husband in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… .

Shefali Shah as Alia Bhatt’s fierce mother in Darlings. Photo: Publicity Photo

Strangely, a powerhouse like Kajol scored more in Salaam Venky as a woman fighting for her dying son but had a tepid turn in Helicoper Eela. However, she scored high with Tanvi Azmi as her mom, while Kajol was Mithila Parkar’s mom in Tribhanga. The latest such example is Rani Mukerji’s sterling essay in Mrs Chatterjee Vs. Norway.

Finally, Shefali Shah cannot be forgotten for her twin solid performances as a mother in both Jalsa and Darlings.

Some memorable ‘Mother’ songs

Mothers have had their share of tribute songs, usually sung for the mothers but some even by them, mostly sentimental but on rare occasions, funny. Below is a list of, arguably, the finest 10 songs heard on mothers and motherhood.

  1. Chunar / Singer: Arijit Singh / Film: ABCD 2 / Music: Sachin-Jigar / Lyrics: Mayur Puri
  2. Maa / Shankar Mahadevan / Taare Zameen Par / Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy / Prasoon Joshi
  3. Maa mujhe apne aanchal mein / Lata Mangeshkar / Chhota Bhai / Laxmikant-Pyarelal / Anand Bakshi
  4. Maine maa ko dekha hai / Lata Mangeshkar / Mastana / Laxmikant-Pyarelal / Anand Bakshi
  5. Mere do anmol rattan / Ram Lakhan / Kavita K. Subramaniam & Mohammed Aziz / Laxmikant-Pyarelal
  6. Meri duniya hain maa tere aanchal mein / S.D. Burman / Talash / S.D. Burman / Majrooh Sultanpuri
  7. Mummy o mummy / Kishore Kumar / Khatta Meetha / Rajesh Roshan / Gulzar
  8. Suraj kab door gagan se / Karan Arjun / Udit Narayan, Sudesh Bhosle & Sadhana Sargam / Karan Arjun / Rajesh Roshan / Indeevar
  9. Tu kitni acchi hai / Lata Mangeshkar / Raja Aur Runk / Laxmikant-Pyarelal / Anand Bakshi
  10. Ussko nahin dekha humne kabhi / Mahendra Kapoor & Manna Dey / Daadi Maa / Roshan / Majrooh Sultanpuri





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