They’ve gone from perfect and long-suffering to flawed and sassy. Here are 10 films that present Bollywood mums in unconventional, sometimes gritty roles.
10 Bollywood films where mums dare to be different
Mothers in Hindi cinema have gone from long-suffering martyrs to flawed yet sassy women who know what they want. Here are 10 films that present Bollywood mums in unconventional roles, starting with the recent blockbuster 2 States, which had a particularly feisty Amrita Singh playing a domineering, unashamedly prejudiced Punjabi mum.
1. 2 States (2014)
Who else could have essayed this role but Amrita Singh? The actress plays a loud, opinionated woman who embarrasses everyone with her bigoted comments, especially about south Indians, now that her son (Arjun Kapoor) wants to marry his Tamil girlfriend (Alia Bhatt). The subject of most of her taunts is Bhatt’s soft-spoken mum – played sensitively by Revathi – who tries hard to take the high road and very nearly fails.
2. Listen... Amaya (2013)
A widow (Deepti Naval) with a grown-up daughter announces her plans to marry again. The daughter’s (Swara Bhaskar) shock, revulsion and refusal to accept that her mother is entitled to a life beyond that of a mother is symptomatic of a society that deifies mothers at the cost of their happiness. Naval shines in this tear-jerker with her gritty, stoical performance. She’s still at the top of her game.
3. Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012)
Neetu Kapoor does the unthinkable in this long-winded Shah Rukh Khan-Katrina Kaif romance flick: she plays a woman who leaves her husband (Anupam Kher) and young daughter behind for the man she loves (her real-life husband Rishi Kapoor). Her argument is that staying in an unhappy marriage would have affected the family negatively. When her grown-up daughter (Kaif) eventually visits her, Singh brings out all the birthday presents she couldn’t give her during their estrangement. Nicely executed, except the bit where the Kapoors skip through a vineyard arm-in-arm.
4. Devdas (2002)
Kirron Kher bustles around the house attending to leaky roofs and cracking finances, makes jokes in front of her introverted husband and breaks into a dance at her affluent neighbour’s party. This mum wore the trousers in the family and was not afraid to let the world know.
5. Dil Chahta Hai (2001)
Tara, portrayed by Dimple Kapadia, is a lonely divorcee who is kept away from her young daughter by an estranged ex-husband because she is an alcoholic. This mum is allowed to have flaws and her grief, fears and hopes are real. Kudos to the director Farhan Akhtar.
6. Akele Hum Akele Tum (1995)
Manisha Koirala portrays a young woman who gives up her career to be a homemaker for her husband (Aamir Khan) and their 6-year-old son. But when boredom sets in and a lucrative job appears on the horizon, she leaves her husband and son to pursue her career. Shockingly unconventional, the film, directed by Mansoor Khan, was inspired by Kramer vs Kramer.
7. Aandhiyaan (1990)
When the veteran actress Mumtaz decided to make a comeback on the silver screen, she chose to be cast as a trendy single parent who is more like a friend than a mother to her son, played by Prosenjit Chatterjee. He eventually decides to go and live with his dad, which breaks her heart.
8. Bhavna (1984)
Directed by Pravin Bhatt, the film centres on a sari-clad single mum who is forced to make a living as a high-end escort to support her son after she is abandoned by her husband. One of Shabana Azmi’s most powerful performances.
9. Apnapan (1977)
Reena Roy gives a stellar performance as a mother who prefers a career to the role of a homemaker. Of course, the script makes her suffer and sob for her sins at the end. But Roy’s spirited performance imbued the mother-goddess figure with human traits.
10. Kaagaz Ki Nao (1975)
In this dark B R Ishara film, the dancing siren Helen plays a single mum who dares to have a love life. When her daughter (played by Sarika) finds out her mum is sleeping with a man, she commits suicide. Dark stuff for a 1970s Bollywood film. None of the A-list actresses of the time would have even considered this role for fear it would give them a “bad girl” reputation. How times have changed.