I believe it differs from film to film. If it is a Punjabi family, you will see an overwhelming mother taking care of her children. But, yes, those quintessential mothers are missing from the big screen today. The only reason we noticed them was because there was only a handful of them and they were repeated in every film. However, today, scripts demand fresh faces and the mother also needs to look like she could be the actor’s mother.
Earlier, our cinema used what we call artefacts-maa-maa hoti thi, bhai bhai hota hai.Sometimes, I believe, we deliberately projected certain values, in that, we equated a mother with sacrifice, and people imbibed those values. Therefore, in the Ramayana, we see Ram as Maryada Purshottam, a symbol of the dutiful son. Similarly, our films sent out a message about how mothers were expected to behave, always sacrificing for their family and children.Over time, rather than cinema influencing society or stories telling society what to do, stories began to reflect society. The mirror has flipped, as it were.
Chief Creative Officer, Fox Star Studios
I believe there has been a great rejuvenation in the mother role over the last few years. Take our example of Shabana Azmi in Neerja, where she played the amazing role of Rama Bhanot, mother of Neerja Bhanot. Then there’s Tanvi Azmi in Bajirao Mastani, Ratna Pathak Shah in Kapoor & Sons and Swara Bhaskar inNil Battey Sannata. This is great news for women and for mother roles. And it’s nice to see that all the mothers in the films I’ve mentioned are so varied and different and not the stereotypical mothers we saw in the old days. I think mother roles these days are more identifiable in today’s films.
The process of filmmaking has changed and so has script writing. Today, a hero or a heroineis not the hero of the film; it’s the script that plays an important part in the film. That’s why you no longer see the same kind of mother characters on the big screen that you once did. It’s not that mother characters have been scrapped; it’s just that they are now new-age moms. In Kapoor & Sons, the mother played by Ratna Pathak Shah was a new-age mother in a dysfunctional family. In fact, I think it’s a very good phase for Hindi cinema, where actresses get to play important roles.Also stories these days are not stitched around families anymore, barring few films.