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Top Onscreen Moms of Bollywood

onscreen moms of bollywood

In India theres no place that reveres mothers more than Bollywood. Mere paas Maa hai a line from Deewar remains the most quoted dialogue from any Hindi film. For decades Bollywood has doted on its mothers and the fans of Hindi cinema the world over adore our Bollywood mothers their adoring smiles, strokes that sooth away fears, soft voices singing lullabies and those pain-filled eyes reflecting the sacrifices made for the sake of their children. Mothers have always been an integral part of Hindi cinema. They have been central to the plot and often been the driving force behind the storyline the mothers suffering leading up to the protagonists cry for justice, her terminal disease making the hero commit the first crime, her humiliation by the villain encouraging a vengeance attack by the hero. Here is a tribute to the most famous mothers in the history of Hindi cinema.

1. The original maa – Achla Sachdev

Younger audiences may remember her as Kajol’s grandmother from Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge or Amitabh Bachchan’s mother from Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. But Achla Sachdev came in much before all of this. In fact we believe had it not been for Deewar, Achla Sachdev could have well been the Mother Number One in Bollywood. After all ho many women in Bollywood had Balraj Sahani singing ‘Ae meri zohrajabeen’ for them?

2. The mother of all maa – Nirupa Roy

The most favorite onscreen mother of super stars, especially Amitabh Bachchan, Nirupa Roy became Bollywoods dearest mother after playing mother in Deewar, the blockbuster that revolved around a downtrodden, sacrificing single mother and her two sons, Ravi (Shashi Kapoor), a good police officer and Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan), the bad but mother-loving criminal. Pitting brother against brother for a mothers affection, Deewar established once and for all that no matter what else one attains fame, fortune, mansions or cars, nothing matters more if, as Ravi says, Mere paas Maa hai. He has his mother and nothing else matters. Her other great movies as Amitabhs mother were Amar Akbar Anthony, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Suhaag, Mard and one last time in Lal Badshah.

3. The Rajshri maa – Reema Lagoo

Somewhere in the ’80s Nirupa Roy made way for Reema Lagoo. With her typical middle class Indian features Reema Lagoo easily slipped into the mother roles. After Maine Pyar Kiya, Reema Lagoo played the mother in practically all of Rajshri films. And during the time she wasn’t playing a mom to Salman Khan, she was playing a mom to Govinda, Shah Rukh Khan, Ajay Devgan, Sanjay Dutt… and every other man in Bollywood who refused to grow up.

4. The unsung maa – Smita Jayakar

She may not be as popular as Kirron Kher or Reema Lagoo. But we have good reasons to cheer for Smita Jayakar as one of the top ten mothers in Bollywood. She made quite a late entry into Bollywood. We saw her in two bit roles in films such as Pardes, Prem Aggan and Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain. But the one film that made us sit up and notice was her role as Aishwarya Rai’s mother in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. A string of not-so-happening films may have followed. But we’d be cheering for Smita who plays the mother in Rajshri’s next – Ek Vivah Aisa Bhi.

5. The glamorous maa – Kirron Kher

Now, Kirron Kher is the kind of mom that the men in this office wouldn’t mind being seen with. She’s fashionable, hep and in a dire situation she could well pack a punch with one of her classy handbags. Frankly that’s reason enough for her to be in this list. Cheer for Kirron Kher. To name a few she appeared in Devdas, Veer Zara, Om Shanti Om, KANK, Apne and many more.

6. The moping maa – Jaya Bachchan

We think if Jaya Bachchan was a little older, she could have well filled up the vacuum Nirupa Roy left. Think of it, as a mother she has moped much, much more than anyone in this list. Playing the woman caught between her son and her husband, Jaya Bachchan perhaps often portrays the classic Catch-22 situation that most moms face today. And boy how much she mopes. So simply for that, Jaya Bachchan is one of our top 10 Bollywood moms.

7. The new-age maa – Ratna Pathak Shah

Everyone who has watched Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na in this office wants to have Ratna Pathak Shah as their mom. Of course we also know of others who wouldn’t mind having Nasaeer as their husband, but that’s beside the point. Nonetheless, just by playing Imran Khan’s cool mom in Jaane Tu… Ratna has pretty much arrived on Bollywood’s ‘mom scene’.

8. The Oedipal maa – Dimple Kapadia

The jeans-clad Dimple Kapadia in Pyaar Mein Twist played the mom every daughter dreamt of having. Do note we’re only talking of girls here. Ask the boys, they insist Dimple’s filmography for them starts with Sagar and ends with Dil Chahta Hai.

9. The cutest Maa– Farida Jalal

In more ways than one most of these women could have well been your ‘typical maas’. But by playing the typical maa in god knows how many films Farida Jalal wins the trophy hands down. Be it Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Dil To Pagal Hai or Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Farida Jalal has belted out one typical maa performances after another with a consistency that very few have displayed. So three cheers for that!

10. Amitabh ki Maa – Zohra Sehgal

Now, Zohra Sehgal could well be in the grandmother’s list. But Cheeni Kum is the one reason she is here. Of course Achla Sachdev has played mother to the 60-plus Amitabh Bachchan in K3G. But we think you’d agree if we’d cast our votes for Zohra Sehgal in the ‘Amitabh ki Maa’ category. C’mon how many women can hold their own with the Big B in the same frame? And just for that Zohra Sehgal is our favourite in this list.

11. The Typical maa – Durga Khote

A strong woman and a stronger screen mother, Durga Khote essayed a wide variety of roles in a career span of over 50 years, starting in 1932. During later years of her career she played several important character roles, particularly as mother of the protagonist. Her portrayal of Jodhabai, the queen of Mughal Emperor Akbar, torn between duty towards her husband and love for her son Salim in film Mughal-E-Azam is most memorable. She is also remembered for her powerful portrayal of Kaikayee in Vijay Bhatts classic Bharat Milap, wherein she turns the arch villain of the epic Ramayana to make her son Bharat the Crown Prince.

12. The famous Step Mother – Lalita Pawar

Hindi cinemas most sought after, yet sometimes the most dreaded mother, Lalita Pawar has the longest ever innings spanning from the silent era of 1920s to 1990s with more than 300 films to her credit. If one was to make a list of the movies she played mother in, it would also be the list of super hits of the 50s and 60s Dahej, Thokar, Mr. And Mrs.1955, Khandaan, Shri 420, Pocket Maar, Nau Do Gyarah, Asha, Parwarish, Sujata, Guest House, Anari, Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai, Sasural, Junglee, Hum Dono, Grihasti, Bluff Master, Sangam, Kohra, Khandaan, Love in Tokyo and many more.

13. The oldest maa – Amir Banu

In 40s and 50s every other important movie necessarily revolved around the all sacrificing, helpless mother, Amir Banu, the most familiar motherly face of that era. Her more popular movies include Sharda, Ratan, Anmol Ghadi, Dillagi, Bazar, Andaz, Jan Pehchan, Aar Paar, Chori Chori and Dhool Ka Phool.

14. Mostly known as Mausi Ji – Leela Mishra

A lovable mother on screen since the 40s, she became more popular as Mausi after her most remembered role as Hema Malinis Mausi in the all time super hit Shole. She has played mother or Mausi or grand mother in over 150 films which include many great hits like Chitralekha, Khamoshi, Vish Kanya, Ghunghat, Anmol Ghadi, Bahar, Awara, Daag, Teen Batti Char Rasta, Shikast, Ladki and many more.

15. The suffering mother – Leela Chitnis

A very popular pair with Ashok Kumar in the 40s, Leela Chitnis entered the next and perhaps the most well known phase of her career with Filmistans Shaheed (1948) playing the suffering mother of Dilip Kumar. For 22 years after that, Chitnis excelled playing the suffering ailing mother to the entire range of leading men of the day, often widowed or abandoned and struggling to bring up her offspring with dignity in the face abject poverty. Her most memorable performance was in Raj Kapoors Awara, Bimal Roys Maa, Dilip Kumars Ganga Jamuna and Dev Anands Guide.

16. Mother India – Nargis

The mother of all Bollywood mothers, of course, was Nargis in Mother India. Representing both mother and Mother India, who also nurtures and occasionally punishes her children, has immortalized the Indian mother on celluloid. In the film, left to raise her sons single-handedly while also working the fields and fending off the evil intentions of the landowner, the mother endures it all stoically, sacrificing herself to pay off a loan and, in the ultimate act of selflessness, kills one of her sons, the son who chose the path of evil.

17. Kamini Kaushal

The famous 1940s and 1950s star, Kamini Kaushal segued towards character roles after she was offered a strong role as Bhagat Singhs mother in Manoj Kumars Shaheed (1965). She played Manojs mother once again in Upkaar (1967). The appreciation she received ensured that Kamini became a fixture as the mother figure in a string of 1970s Manoj Kumar starrers like Poorab Pascham, Shor, Roti Kapda Aur Makan, Sanyasi and Dus Numbri. She continues to play mother, her most recent movie being Chori Chori.

18. Youngest Maa – Raakhee

It was one of the most sensational casting when superstar Raakhee was cast as mother of her super star hero of many films, Amitabh Bachchan, in Shakti (1982), opposite Dilip Kumar, who played the father. Raakhee was so natural in her new role as a mother that she was sought after for portraying mother by several prominent producers, and audiences also applauded her for playing a powerful mother in many films. Her important films in which she played mother include Baazigar, Karan Arjun, Soldier, Badshah, Ek Rishta, Khalnayak and Ram Lakhan for which she won Filmfare award.

19. Mother of All times – Dina Pathak

Film Khoobsoorat (1980) could not have been as khoobsoorat (beautiful) and a big hit as it was without Mrs. Nirmala Gupta (Dina Pathak), a very strict and authoritarian mother and the main highlight of the movie. One of the most powerful mothers on screen, Dina Pathak has proved her talent in over 100 movies since 60s, more notable amongst them being, Satyakam, Sat Hindustani, Sacha Jhoota, Jal Bin Machli Nritya Bin Bijlee, Koshish, Avishkar, Charitraheen, Anari, Mausam, Chitchor, Dream Girl, Kitab, Gol Maal, Thodisi Bewafai, Umrao Jaan, Prem Rog, Arth, Arpan, Jhoothi, Aankhen, Sabse Bada Khilari, Yarana, Pardes, Mere Sapno Ki Rani, Tum Bin, Devdas (Bhuwans mother), Bollywood/Hollywood and Pinjar.

20. Come-back Maa – Waheeda Rehman

She was last seen in Lamhe, before her comeback, as Anil kapoor’s Maa and then she made a comeback to films playing elderly mother and grandmother roles in Om Jai Jagadish (2002), Water (2005) and Rang De Basanti (2006) which were all critically acclaimed.


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