“Mere pass maa hai (I have my mother),” the iconic dialogue from the film Deewar, has made the mother an important commodity owned by any son in Hindi cinema. According to them, a mother is the epitome of sacrifice. The filmmakers have utilised the presence of mothers to glorify their heroes by showing them save their emotional mothers. But this Angry Young Man (Amitabh Bachchan)’s cinema forgets to inculcate the stories of mothers from real life.
Nowadays, not all mothers sit at home and get emotional every now and then. They are passionate and empowered. This has been visible in many films of recent times.
Sridevi’s National Award-winning film Mom breaks all notions of a man’s revenge or saviour complex where women are the victims. This time, a woman decides to fight with the criminals. She successfully takes charge to seek revenge without seeking help from any male counterpart.
Gauri Shinde’s English Vinglish (2012) mirrors a large number of mothers in Indian households. Sridevi is subjected to ill-treatment in her home and not respected by her own children. That is until the mother (Sridevi) decides to learn English. The filmmaker has truly paid honour to all the women who choose their homes over careers.
Even in Vidya Balan’s Tumhari Sulu, the world turns upside down when Sulu, aka Sulochna, gets to host the late-night ‘Saree wali Bhabhi’ show on radio, talking huskily to strangers about love, lust and more. Even though she is enjoying the time, her personal life becomes complicated.
The controversial film Lipstick Under My Burkha, was censored because, “The story is lady oriented, their fantasy above life. There are continuous sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography, and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society, hence film refused under guidelines (sic)”. When we can applaud a passionate mother, why can’t we digest the fact that she is a woman first? And displaying her sexual urge is no big deal. The film gave a platform to discuss women’s sexuality, which had never been discussed in mainstream cinema before.
This theme is well-explored in Ayushmann Khurrana’s Badhaai Ho. It brings to light the fact that your parents had sex and that’s how you were born. It makes us accept that they too experience sexual pleasure, and we should not stereotype by saying “Ye bhi koi mummy papa ke karne ki cheez hai (Is this something of our parents to do?)?”
Recent films including Panga starring Kangana Ranaut and Saand Ki Aankh starring Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar put a spotlight on the condition of female Indian sports players who end up choosing their family over career after marriage. Later, when they decided to come back to the game, they were better than before.
While there are some films that still propagate an old-school view on mothers in our society, there are many others that are helping end these stereotypes. Cinema has the potential to bring a change in society without bringing any new law into force; which is why it will always be more than a medium of entertainment.