Gone are the days when the 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 on-screen sons.
From Mother India (1957) to Vicky Donor (2012), the portrayal of on-screen mothers have changed over a period of time – the Maa of yesteryear has become Mom today.
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 propelling the story.
"There is less importance of mothers in films today. Even if there are roles for mother, there is hardly anything for them to do on screen. Things have changed, there is hero and heroine for everything, so there is no need of mother," Zarina Wahab, who essayed the role of mother to Shahrukh Khan in Karan Johar's My Name is Khan and Hrithik Roshan in the remake version of 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 (remake one)," she said.
Can anyone forget actor Shashi Kapoor's famous dialogue as a cop, Mere paas maa hai, to his smuggler brother Amitabh Bachchan in Deewar, where Nirupa Roy was the mother. Roy became the most epitomised on-screen mother in Bollywood history.
Nargis played a fiery single mother in Mehboob Khan's Mother India, who brings up her two sons – Rajendra Kumar and Sunil Dutt. Nargis does not hesitate to fire a bullet at her criminal son, Sunil Dutt.
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, including legendary Dilip Kumar.
Then we had Waheeda Rehman in Yash Chopra's Trishul, Dina Pathak in Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Khubsoorat, Raakhee in Ramesh Sippy's Shakti, Nirupa in Manmohan Desai's Amar Akbar Anthony.
Dolly Ahluwalia and Ayushman Khurana in Vicky Donor
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 films like Veer Zaara, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, Dostana, Zarina founded a new image of an on-screen mother by the donning the 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 much 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, who has played on-screen mother to Salman Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Sanjay Dutt (Vaastav) and Shahrukh Khan (Yes Boss).
"I feel mothers have merely become prop today...there is hardly anything for them to do on screen. I miss playing the kind of roles I did earlier," she said.
How can one forget the drinking mother, Dolly Ahluwalia, in Vicky Donor. She played the mother to Ayushman Khurana and had the audiences in splits with her act.
In Vicky Donor, the scene between Dolly and her mother-in-law (Kamlesh Gill) sharing a drink has become the most talked about act of the film released last month.
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.