Indian cinema and soap operas have made optimum utilisation of ‘saas-bahu’ dramas onscreen. Be it Tu Tu Main Main or Sau Din Saas Ke, the relationship between a mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law has translated into some of the iconic onscreen portrayals by legendary actors. This Mothers Day, we pay tribute to actors who maintained the essence of a mother-in-law and yet delivered scintillating performances as vamps on the big screen.
When one needs to describe a ruthless and unforgiving mother-in-law, cinema buffs will trace it back to late actress Lalita Pawar. However, she took upon the roles as a vamp only after an accident that changed her life forever. It so happened, that the shoot of the film Jung-E-Azadi (1948), Bhagwan Dada slapped her so hard that it caused a facial paralysis and burst a vein in her left eye, and it left her scarred for life. She went on to take other roles that came her way. Her first stint as a mother-in-law in V Shantaram’s Dahej gained her the spot of a fearsome ‘saas’. Other notable works include her roles in films like Sau Din Saas Ke, Ghar Sansar, Junglee, Phool Aur Patthar and Hum Dono among others.
Tanvi Azmi took upon the role of Bajirao’s mother and a widow Radhabai Barve in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’ Bajirao Mastani. Clad in a white saree, with shaved head, Tanvi gave a spectacular performance for her hate against Mastani, even as she saw her own son die as he yearned for his lover.
Popular for her comedy stint as Hansa in the TV show Khichdi, Supriya played the fierce mother and leader of a clan in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela. As Dhankor Ba (Deepika Padukone’s mother) she managed to instil fear onscreen especially when she chopped off her daughter’s finger that had the engagement ring given by her lover (Ranveer Singh).
Yesteryear actress Aruna Irani who was known for her glamorous roles in films, came out as a supervillain in 1992 film Beta starring Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit. Essaying the role of a stepmother, Irani exploits his love life to extort his wealth, but in the process delivered an applaud-worthy performance that gives chills even today.
Bindu was particularly popular as ‘Mona Darling’ in Bollywood. She is a part of the holy trinity that redefined cabaret along with Helen and Aruna Irani. Her roles in films like Hero, Alag Alag, Biwi Ho To Aisi and Kishen Kanhaiya among others re-established her as the unmerciful and cruel mother-in-law, or the cynical aunt.