Happy birthday Ratna Pathak Shah: Here's why she is Bollywood's hit mom

  • Ratna Pathak Shah has brought individuality and fun to mom's portrayal in Hindi films. On her birthday, here is a close look at her performances.
Ratna Pathak Shah is active in films and theatre.
Ratna Pathak Shah is active in films and theatre.
Updated on Mar 18, 2021 07:54 AM IST
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Ratna Pathak Shah is known to a generation of television viewers thanks to her winning presence in Sarabhai versus Sarabhai. The actor made her debut back in the 1980s with Mandi (1983) and went on to make her presence felt in a number of iconic films like Mirch Masala (1987), The Perfect Murder (1988) and Bharat Ek Khoj (1988, TV).

Sadly, mainstream audiences woke up to her class-act rather late. In the meanwhile, she remained busy in theatre, as a crucial clog in husband Naseeruddin Shah's The Motley theatre group. Then, as if out of the blue, in 2004, came Sarabhai versus Sarabhai and Bollywood suddenly saw a side of Ratna, hardly known to them - the fun and hipster mom.

While to the millennial, Ratna may have come as a surprise, to people from a generation ahead, it would have seemed the most natural thing to do. Ratna's mother, the formidable Dina Pathak, was a powerful performer, who was singularly responsible for breaking the cardboard-cutout limitations of the mother figure in Hindi films and give us the warm and loving Kamala Srivastav in the original Gol Maal (1979) by Hrishikesh Mukherjee and the tough-to-please matriarch Nirmala Gupta in the original Khubsoorat (1980), yet another gift to cine lovers by Hrishikesh.

On her birthday on Thursday, here's a look at some of mom roles she made fashionable.

Kapoor & Sons (2016)

Ratna Pathak in Kapoor & Sons.
Ratna Pathak in Kapoor & Sons.

Playing mother to Fawad Khan and Siddharth Malhotra, Ratna brought a certain believability to the role. In the course of the film, Ratna's Sunita Kapoor realises that she hasn't been the most honest mother to her sons, hiding things from them and having made mistakes in parenting. She was an important clog in the dysfunctional home shown in the film.

Khoobsurat (2014)

Ratna Pathak's Nirmala Devi will remind you of Nirmala Gupta, a role made famous by her mother, late Dina Pathak.
Ratna Pathak's Nirmala Devi will remind you of Nirmala Gupta, a role made famous by her mother, late Dina Pathak.

The prim and proper Nirmala Devi Rathore is sure to remind you of her mother's towering presence in the original. As the rigid matriarch of a household, who is the reason it stands together, she has to contend with a hurricane when Sonam Kapoor's Mili Chakravarty shows up at her palace. As rules get flouted, as laughter returns to the precinct of the her lavish home, Nirmala's tough-nut-to crack crumbles rather charmingly.

Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu (2012)

Don't miss Ratna Pathak's diamonds.
Don't miss Ratna Pathak's diamonds.

Ratna Pathak's Mrs Kapoor could easily have been reduced to a caricature if it hadn't been for Ratna. A society woman, who only aspires to show off her son as her triumph, she plays her fault lines with humour and realism. Ratna, in her expensive diamonds and black gloves and gowns, is the socialite you couldn't have missed, only she made her funny and relatable.

Golmaal 3 (2010)

Guddi and Pappu add sweetness to Golmaal 3.
Guddi and Pappu add sweetness to Golmaal 3.

Everything about a Rohit Shetty film is exaggerated - the action, the humour, the drama or the colours. As Ajay Devgn, Arshad Warsi and the rest go on an overdrive to entertain, in comes Ratna as the mother of Ajay and Shreyas and step-mother of Arshad, Tusshar Kapoor and Kunal Kemmu, bringing gentle smiles and middle-aged romance to life. Her character Guddi and Mithun Chakraborty as Pappu bring light and sunshine to this over-the-top entertainment extravaganza.

Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na (2008)

Ratna Pathak in Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na.
Ratna Pathak in Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na.

Also read: When Twinkle Khanna revealed Karan Johar was in love with her in school: 'He found my moustache hot'

In this Imran Khan starrer, Ratna as an overprotective mother is a spitfire but at the same time, she is capable of bringing in a lot of tenderness where needed. This film is particularly noteworthy for having a pitch-perfect support cast. While the lead pair of Imran Khan and Genelia D Souza were obviously in focus, the film's lasting charm comes from an array of other characters, like Ratna's Savitri Singh Rathore.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2022