For decades now, mums have played a significant role in Bollywood, both on screen and off it. Jaya Chakravarty moulded daughter Hema Malini into the ‘Dream Girl’ of the swinging ’70s. Babita made Karisma Kapur the numero uno actress in her time. Rani Mukherji’s mother, Krishna, too, is believed to have played an important role in chalking out her career.
Some of these mammas were actresses themselves; for others, it was alien territory. Yet, they negotiated the strange twists and turns as they accompanied their daughters on a journey to stardom.
Four star mums — Madhu Chopra, Sunanda Shetty, Sarasvathy Balan and Kanchan Rao, mothers of actresses Priyanka Chopra, Shilpa Shetty, Vidya Balan and Amrita Rao, respectively —speak about their special roles.
When Priyanka had to come down to Mumbai for the Miss India contest, my husband agreed only on the condition that I accompany her. After she won the Miss World crown, she was wooed with film offers. Initially, we were scared since this was an alien world, but Priyanka is a sensible and fearless girl.
On her first day at the Mujhse Shaadi Karogi shoot, Salman played a prank on her. We’d heard that if he didn’t like you, he gave you a hard time and Priyanka was very nervous. But after the take, Salman and Priyanka hit it off really well. He was so protective of my girl that we didn’t have to worry even when they were shooting night shifts. I no longer accompany her to shoots but we still spend a lot of time together.
The family reacted very strongly to Shilpa’s decision to get into movies since we come from an orthodox community. Shilpa was innocent and naïve when she started out and needed a lot of guidance. She was the one who insisted that I accompany her on shoots. She’d to travel a lot and it reassured her to have a family member around. It was necessary to accompany her on outdoor shoots because it was scary thinking of Shilpa alone in a hotel and accosted by crazy fans.
Since ours is a traditional South Indian family, education has always been top priority. I wasn’t so afraid, when Vidya started doing TV serials at the age of 12, that she would quit her studies and get lured into the big bad world of movies. Over the years, Vidya has matured as a person and learnt to take care of herself. Today, I no longer worry if I have to leave midway through a narration. And though I still accompany her to her shoots and even outdoors, I no longer hang around the sets.
We mothers have an unenviable job. We’ve to negotiate awkward situations every day. One wrong word or move and we’re labelled as vamps. When Amrita started her career, she was really young and clueless about where to go, how to go and whom to meet. Naturally, I was expected to accompany her to auditions and shoots. Today, she knows her way around movie town and I’m around only for moral support.