‘Mere Paas Maa Hai’ the iconic dialogue from the movie ‘Deewar’ (1975) where a dapper Shashi Kapoor walks up to an Angry Amitabh Bachchan and says he may not have ‘bangla, gaadi’ but he has ‘Maa’. The dialogue soon became a cult of sorts. Thanks to Bollywood, it has often portrayed ‘mother’ as a melodramatic figure. We are not exaggerating we have seen Nirupa Roy as an impoverished suffering mother in the 1970s or Jaya Bachchan in ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham’ who can hear her son’s (Shah Rukh Khan) footsteps in a crowded mall in London. It is quite strange that she couldn’t hear the footsteps of her younger son (Hrithik Roshan) who is present in the same mall few steps away from her. Though Bollywood has over the years portrayed the weepy and sacrificial mother there are movies when actresses essaying the role of mothers have come up with powerful performances – Shabana Azmi (Masoon/Neerja), Tabu (Astitva), Rekha (Khoon Bhari Maang) and more. With International Mother’s Day, we have compiled a list iconic mothers in Bollywood. Here we go.
Nirupa Roy – Maa of all Maa
No doubt, Nirupa Roy has to be on top of the list. She is the Maa of all Maa in Bollywood and has essayed the role of mother to almost every superstar of 70s and early 80s. She has often been shown a weepy and sacrificial mother in Indian cinema. She is the ‘Maa’ Shashi Kapoor is addressing in the iconic dialogue ‘Mere Paas Maa Hai’ in Deewar (1975). Her career spanned for more than five decades and has acted in more than 275 films. She is often referred to as the ‘Queen of Misery’ in Indian cinema.
Nargis – Mother India
Referred to as one of the greatest actresses in the history of Indian cinema, Nargis is best-known for her role as Radha in Mother India (1957). The role also won her Best Actress trophy at the Filmfare Awards. In 1958, Nargis married her co-star Sunil Dutt (who played the role of his son) in the movie. Reportedly, Dutt saved her life from a fire on the sets of Mother India.
Reema Lagoo – The Rajshri Maa
The graceful and loving mother to almost all 90s superstars, Reema Lagoo played the role of mother to Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt and Govinda, among others. Her role as a mother was appreciated in movies like Vaastav, Judwaa, Yes Boss, Betaabi, Deewana Mastana, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Maine Pyaar Kiya, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and Pran Jaye Par Shaan Na Jaye. She has also carved out a niche for herself in Hindi and Marathi cinema and television. She passed away on May 18, 2017, of cardiac arrest.
Lalita Pawar – The Wicked Stepmother
The list can never be complete without Lalita Pawar, known for playing the wicked mother. Her roles always gave a twist to the movies. Some of her films where she essayed the role of mother include Daag, Junglee, Hum Dono, Sehra, and Zalzala. She was part of Indian cinema for seven decades and was part of over 300 movies.
Farida Jalal – The Doting Maa
You can call her the most doting mother of Bollywood. She is often seen playing the role of a loving and doting mother who is worried about the well-being of her children. She played the role of a doting mother in movies like Ziddi, Dil Toh Pagal Hai, Aflatoon, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kya Kehna, and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. She is also known for her roles in TV shows Shararat, Dekh Bhai Dekh, Balika Vadhu and Satrangi Sasural.
Rakhee – The Emotional Maa
Rakhee has dedicated four decades of her life to the Indian cinema and has won three Filmfare awards and one national award. She played the role of mother to Amitabh Bachchan in Laawaris (1981) and Shakti (1982), who was also his co-star. In the 1990s she played the role of mother widowed at the hands of villains in movies like Baazigar (1993), Khalnayak (1993) and Karan Arjun (1995).
Waheeda Rehman – The Ageless Maa
The Ageless Maa? Yes. Because this gorgeous actress refuses to age. She essayed the role of Amitabh Bachchan in Namak Halaal (1982). She is just 5 years elder than Mr Bachchan and has played his leading lady in Adalat (1976). 20 years after Namak Halaal, Waheeda played Abhishek Bachchan’s mother in Om Jai Jagdish (2002).
Kirron Kher – The Humorous Maa
Kirron Kher has often played the role of doting mother with a touch of humour and glamour. Be it Om Shanti Om, Hum Tum, Rang De Basanti, Dostana or Khoobsurat. She has also essayed the role of mothers with serious shades in Veer Zaara and Fanaa.
Ratna Pathak – The Glamorous Maa
Ratna Pathak has entertained us with her different roles in movies, television shows, and theatre plays. She has never shied away from expressing her opinions on films and feminism. Her character Savitri, mother of the protagonist in ‘Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na’, describes the new age mother perfectly well. She is shown as a working single mother who raises her child to be a calm and sensitive person.
Jaya Bachchan – The Grieving Maa
Jaya Bachchan made her first role as an adult in Guddi (1971), eight years after her debut as a teenager in Satyajit Ray’s Mahanagar (1963). She has delivered several hits like Uphaar (1971), Koshish (1972), Zanjeer (1973), Abhimaan (1973), Kora Kagaz (1974), Chupke Chupke (1975), Mili (1975), and Sholay (1975). After her appearance in Silsila (1981), she took a break of 18 years from Bollywood. She made her comeback with Govind Nihalani’s Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa (1998) in which she portrayed the role of a grieving mother who loses her son in the Naxal movement. In 2000 in the movie Fiza she played the role of a mother whose son (essayed by Hrithik Roshan) joins a terrorist organisation, which eventually leads her to commit suicide. She was also seen essaying the role of mother of Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham (2001) and Preity Zinta in Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003).