Mumbai: Gone are the days when on-screen mothers in Bollywood would sing lullabies in their soft voices, those pain-filled eyes reflecting their sacrifices, their adoring smile and strokes that soothes away fears, their all-encompassing equation with their sons in films.
From `Mother India` (1957) to `Vicky Donor` (2012), the portrayal of mothers on the big screen have changed – the `Maa` of yesteryears has become the `Mom` today.
Back then no story was complete without them but today those roles have become mostly cliched. Now, in most films, mothers have become marginalised, they are mere props instead of propellers of the story.
"There is less importance of mothers in films today. Even if there are roles for mothers, there is hardly anything for them to do on screen. The hero and the heroine is there for everything, so there is no need of a mother," Zarina Wahab, who played mother to Shah Rukh Khan in Karan Johar`s `My Name is Khan` and Hrithik Roshan in the new `Agneepath`, told PTI.
"The kind of emotions and sentiments that is attached with the character of a mother is not there in today`s films. I am happy that after a long time I got to do a film like `Agneepath`," she added.
Shashi Kapoor`s famous dialogue as a cop, `Mere paas maa hai`, to his smuggler brother Amitabh Bachchan in `Deewar` turned Nirupa Roy into the epitome of motherhood in Bollywood.
Nargis played a fiery single mother in Mehboob Khan`s `Mother India`, who brings up her two sons – Rajendra Kumar and Sunil Dutt and does not hesitate to fire a bullet at her criminal son.
Leela Chitnis created the archetype of Hindi cinema mother, as she often played an ailing mother or one going through hardships and struggle. She played the mother of leading men like the legendary Dilip Kumar.
Then we had Waheeda Rehman in Yash Chopra`s `Trishul`, Dina Pathak in Hrishikesh Mukherjee`s `Khubsoorat` and Raakhee in Ramesh Sippy`s `Shakti`. Then came a new set of mothers -- Rajshri Movies` favorite maa Reema Lagoo in `Maine Pyaar Kiya`, `Hum Aapke Hai Kaun`, `Hum Saath Saath Hai`; the cutest maa Farida Jalal in `Dilwale Dhulaniya Le Jayege`, `Kuch Kuch Hota Hai`; the glamorous maa Kirron Kher in `Veer Zaara`, `Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna` and `Dostana`. Zarina founded a new image of an on-screen mother with her roles in `My Name is Khan`, `Rakhta Charitra` and the latest `Agneepath`.
"Times have changed and so have the role of mothers in Bollywood. As films reflect society, the portrayal of mothers has become more Westernised like in terms of clothes. There are not many family drama movies today - either we have a filthy rich mother or a mother from Dharavi (a slum locality in Mumbai). Where is the middle class mother who goes through struggle, pain?" asked Reema Lagoo.
"I feel mothers have merely become a prop today... There is hardly anything for them to do on screen. I miss playing the kind of roles I did earlier," she said.
In the form of Dolly Ahluwalia in `Vicky Donor` we have a new kind of mother in Bollywood, one who doesn`t hesitate in sharing a drink with her own mother-in-law. She played the mother to Ayushman Khurana and had the audiences in splits with her act.
Dolly has admitted she had apprehensions about the audience accpeting the saas-bahu`s drinking sessions. "To our good fortune, our bonding, including the drinking part, has been liked," Dolly has said.