For the longest time, the idea of a mother in Indian cinema was that of an all-forgiving, ever-giving and self-sacrificing figure. Her identity as a woman or an individual could never be separated from her role as a caregiver whose purpose is to consistently provide endless support to her family.
Even after years, these stereotypes haven’t disappeared completely, but there are a few examples of some well-written characters of modern-day mothers who encapsulate the spirit of motherhood without reducing them to powerless side characters.
Here’s a look at the mothers who were fierce, demanded respect and had control over their own narrative.
Savitri in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na
Savitri, played by Ratna Pathak Shah, was a widowed single mother who ran away from a royal household after her husband’s death to raise her son with values of sensitivity, kindness, and empathy.
She’s a strong-headed woman who doesn't rely on her son for support. Not only does she teach her son to be hard-working, but also someone who respects women, and takes equal responsibility for the household work.
Shashi in English Vinglish
In English Vinglish, Sridevi portrayed the typical Indian mother who is a full-time homemaker, loves cooking for her family, and is ready to sacrifice her own happiness at the drop of a hat.
However, with time, she learns to take a stand for herself, recognises her own needs as an individual, and takes back control of her life. She no longer remains a pushover, but demands the respect she deserves in her own home.
Najma in Secret Superstar
Najma, the mother of Insia Malik — the 15-year-old girl who dreams to be a singer — is a victim of domestic abuse. Najma is fearful of her husband, Farookh, but on the other hand, often risks her own safety to fulfil her daughter's dreams. At one point, intimidated by Farookh, Najma gives in to the pressure and asks Insia to stop pursuing her dreams.
However, Najma finally gathers the courage to stand up to her husband and breaks free from the abusive marriage for the sake of her children and herself.
Aditi Chaudhary in The Sky Is Pink
The Sky Is Pink was based on the true story of 18-year-old Aisha Chaudhary, played by Zaira Wasim, who was suffering from a terminal disease. While it was a story about the family's journey together through the ups and downs, it was also an important reminder that mothers are fierce, especially when it comes to their children.
Despite the knowledge about Aisha's condition, Aditi didn't become helpless. In fact, she did everything she could to save her daughter, standing up to not just her husband, but even the doctor. It was her determination, will, and strength that stands out.
Shamshu in Darlings
Shamshunissa aka Shamshu, played by Shefali Shah in Darlings, is the type of mother who stands by her daughter Badru's side no matter what. She is not someone who will let Badru "compromise" and put up with her husband Hamza's abusive behaviour and often encourages her to teach him an unforgettable lesson.
Shamshu doesn't want Badru to get trapped in the false idea of an 'ideal wife', and so constantly pushes Badru to prioritise her own happiness and demand respect in her relationship.