“Mere paas MAA hai.”

This line has been tattooed on our minds for decades. Many moons ago, one couldn’t imagine a film without saree clad moms, their quintessential ‘rona-dhona’ and unfazed intuition of their sons’ return, “Mere Karan Arjun aayenge.” These heart-thumping moms reigned Bollywood and how. But then, there were also moms like Mother India who didn’t shudder from shooting down her own son when it came to save the dignity of a woman, or Khoobsurat’s Dina Pathak playing an authoritative patriarch. But these kinds of mom characters were like endangered species, not spotted too often on screen and who eventually became extinct.

Last two decades have witnessed a complete makeover of a mother’s on screen character. No more did a mother need a sindoor to define her, or run pillar to post crying in a dull attire. The writing genies have locked the glycerine bottles tight and ordered some designer sarees to make sure the image of a mom blooms in every possible shade.

Today, let’s meet Bollywood’s few happening moms…

Neena Gupta in Badhaai Ho

1. Calling it preggers in the mid-fifties
Neena Gupta in Badhaai Ho
‘Bachcha? Aur woh bhi is umar mein?’
Far from the pages of chest beating, timely dinner serving, being the picture perfect mom, Badhaai Ho’s story gave us a chance to relish a superb performance by Neena Gupta as a pregnant mother in her mid-fifties.

Sridevi in English Vinglish

2. Never too old to learn something new
Sridevi in English Vinglish
A docile mother of two, who receives condescending remarks from her own family for not knowing ‘English’ well enough, tries to find her new-self in a foregin land by learning a new language. Shashi shows how nothing can be impossible for a mother. She proves how personality triumphs over skill.

3. Dropping the veil of shame
Tabu in Haider
The modern day adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, saw Ghazala’s character embody a mother who can be vicious yet protective towards her own child. Her raw emotions, the pretense, the guilt and the conspiracy, left the audiences speechless. Each frame captures the dark shade of her character beautifully.

Dolly Ahluwalia in Vicky Donor

4. The bindass one with a quarter peg
Dolly Ahluwalia in Vicky Donor
How often do you see a mom getting the guests drunk at a wedding? Not too often, right? Dolly Ahluwalia, took up the role of a free-spirited, open-hearted mother, who finds it difficult to accept the fact that her son is a sperm donor. The transitions put forth by Dolly ji as Vicky’s mom are simply pure -fun- energetic and heart-warming.

Bhumi Pednekar and Tapsee Pannu in Saand Ki Aankh

5. Bandook meri laila
Bhumi Pednekar and Tapsee Pannu in Saand Ki Aankh
Though Chandro and Prakashi led stifling lives, bound to home errands and notorious conduct of their husbands, they shined with power eventually. At the mighty age of 60, when most women retire, these two daredevils challenged the world with their bulletproof attitude. Shattering the patriarchal mindset one-bullet-at-a-time, this movie showed that when moms get their claws out, they rightfully grab what’s theirs.

Meher Vij in Secret Superstar

6. Don’t clip your wings, learn to fly
Meher Vij in Secret Superstar
A story of a conserative Gujarati Muslim family where the mother has to deal with domestic violence and an authoritative husband, but she deals with everything possible to keep her children and their dreams safe. Sneakily permitting her daughter to sing despite knowing her husband’s short-tempered nature showcases how a mother can go to any length to make things happen for her children.

7. Let’s be classmates?
Swara Bhaskar in Nil Battey Sannata
Chanda, on seeing her child’s laxed attitude towards academics, feels helpless. Unable to cope with the financial pressure of steep tuition fees, she opts for being her child’s classmate. Despite her child’s thankless behavior and painful accusations, Chanda doesn’t give up on her hopes for a brighter future for her daughter.

8. I’ll always be your mom
Zohra Sehgal in Cheeni Kum
Cheeni Kum offered us a different love story with a beautiful bond shared by a 34 year old woman and a 64 year old man. But Zohra Sehgal as Mr. Bachchan’s mother stole the show in a beat. With her constant rant of ‘gym jaa, gym jaa!,’ or ratting out her son to his girlfriend, she showed how ‘moms are moms’, no matter how old their children grow.

9. Mother of a hero
Shabana Azmi in Neerja
Essaying the role of Rama Bhanot in Neerja, Shabana Azmi, showed what it feels like to be a mother who has to deal with the tragic loss of her daughter’s demise and yet embrace how her child made the sacrifice for a greater cause. Radiating the power of what a mother stands for, this character gripped the audience with its emotional brilliance.

10. The balancing act
Vidya Balan in Paa
Playing a mother to a 12 year old suffering from Progeria, Balan showed the delicateness of a mother-son relationship in a whole other light. Juggling to balance her personal life alongside her son’s rare medical condition, highlighted how moms are capable of being true warriors.

These were just to list a few. Weaving stories where we get to enjoy endless shades of a Mom, it’s refreshing to see how actors in Bollywood with an ‘age no bar mindset’ are open to taking up such roles and doing complete justice to it.

A mother who loves you, scolds you, throws a hissy fit, gets really moody…or can knock someone down with a punch …or maybe even a punchline! The drama never stops, so let’s live it while we are at it.

Here’s raising a toast to the fantastic Mothers of Indian Cinema.