Motherâs Day Special: From Mother India to Paa: Screen moms who defined motherhood

Mother’s Day is a time to acknowledge and appreciate the important role that mothers play in our lives. It is an opportunity to express our gratitude and admiration for everything they do for us, including the sacrifices they make and the love and support they give.

Bollywood movies frequently emphasise the value of family, and probably no better example of this can be found than in the portrayal of iconic mother characters. The sacrifices and selfless love that mothers make for their children are embodied by these figures, who have become cultural touchstones. Bollywood has featured many different mother characters throughout its history, each with its own unique characteristics and plotlines, from the earliest days of Indian cinema to the present.

Here are some of the most iconic Bollywood moms that we adore

1. Radha – Mother India (1957)

Cast: Nargis, Sunil Dutt, Rajendra Kumar and Raaj Kumar

Director: Mehboob Khan

Mother India Paa Bollywood Moms

Radha is a character in the 1957 film Mother India, portrayed by the legendary actress Nargis. This film tells the story of Radha, a young woman abandoned by her husband and left to raise her two sons alone.

The film depicts the hardships faced by rural Indian women in a patriarchal society and their struggles. Radha is a strong and resilient mother who works hard to provide for her family, even in the face of poverty and adversity.

She is a symbol of motherhood and self-sacrifice, as she puts the needs of her children above her own desires and ambitions. Despite the challenges she faces, Radha remains unwavering in her love and devotion to her children.

2. Nirmala Devi Rathore and Manju Chakravarty – Khoobsurat (2014)

Cast: Sonam Kapoor, Fawad Khan, Kirron Kher, Ratna Pathak Shah and Aamir Raza Hussain.
Director: Shashanka Ghosh

a) Nirmala Devi Rathore

Mother India Paa Bollywood Moms

Nirmala Devi Rathore is a character in the 2014 Bollywood film Khoobsurat and is played by veteran actress Ratna Pathak Shah. The matriarch of the Rathore family, Nirmala Devi, is portrayed as an extremely strict and traditional woman who wants to maintain her family’s status and royal lineage. She is initially hostile to the presence of Dr Milli Chakravarty (Sonam Kapoor), a free-spirited and exuberant physiotherapist recruited to treat her husband, King Shekhar Singh Rathore, who is paralysed from the waist down. However, as the plot develops, Nirmala Devi learns to understand Dr Milli’s positive effect on the family and her son Vikram’s (Fawad Khan) love for her. In spite of their difference in status within society, she ultimately supports Vikram’s decision to marry Dr Milli.

b) Manju Chakravarty

Mother India Paa Bollywood Moms

Manju Chakravarty is a character in the 2014 Bollywood film Khoobsurat and is portrayed by Kirron Kher. Manju is depicted as a formidable and encouraging mother who inspires her daughter to follow her aspirations and enjoy life to the fullest. She stands in contrast to Nirmala Devi Rathore, the family’s conservative and traditional mother, who at first finds her daughter’s independence and free-spiritedness objectionable.

3. Deviki – Mom (2017)

Cast: Sridevi, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Akshaye Khanna, Sajal Aly and Adnan Siddiqui.
Director: Ravi Udyawar

Mother India Paa Bollywood Moms

Mom, a 2017 movie starring legendary actress Sridevi, centres on Devki Sabarwal. Devki is a biology teacher who is married to a prosperous businessman and has two daughters. Despite being a devoted wife and mother, Devki struggles to build a strong relationship with her resentful stepdaughter Arya (Sajal Ali).

During the course of the story, Arya is raped and left for dead by a group of boys, including the son of a powerful politician. As Devki seeks justice for her daughter, she is confronted with corruption and legal loopholes. In order to avenge her daughter, she hires a private detective, DK (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), who helps her find the perpetrators.

In the midst of unimaginable trauma and tragedy, Devki’s character represents a mother’s unwavering love for her child. To ensure justice for her daughter, she is portrayed as being a strong, determined woman.

4. Jennifer Kapur- Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003)

Cast: Nikhil Advani
Director: Jaya Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Saif Ali Khan, and Preity Zinta

Mother India Paa Bollywood Moms

Jennifer is a character from the 2003 romantic comedy Kal Ho Naa Ho played by Jaya Bachchan. Jennifer is a single mother who has raised Naina (Preity Zinta), Jia and Shiv on her own, after her husband’s death. She is shown as a strong and supportive mother who loves her children deeply and wants them to be happy. She also accepted her half-daughter Jia and raised her as her own despite the fact that Jia is her husband’s child born out of an affair. Jennifer shares a close relationship and special bond with Naina and Jia. and always protects them from their Dadi’s criticisms.

Jennifer is a selfless and compassionate person who always puts the needs of her family first. She is portrayed as a source of strength and stability for Naina, and her unwavering support is a constant throughout the film. Jennifer is also best friends with Aman (Shah Rukh Khan), who helps her run her cafe successfully.

5. Susheela Mishra – Bareilly Ki Barfi (2017)

Cast: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari
Director: Kriti Sanon, Ayushmann Khurrana and Rajkummar Rao

Mother India Paa Bollywood Moms

Susheela Mishra is a character in the 2017 film Bareilly Ki Barfi, played by actress Seema Pahwa. Susheela is the mother of the film’s protagonist, Bitti (Kriti Sanon). Susheela is seen as a liberal-minded mother who motivates her daughter to be self-sufficient and pursue her aspirations. She also supports her daughter’s choice to defy social expectations and disregard the conventional notions of a woman’s place in society.

Susheela is depicted as being progressive, yet she also exhibits maternal traits of love and protection for her daughter. She is portrayed as someone who only wants her daughter to experience happiness and fulfilment, and who does not want her to endure any challenges or setbacks.

6. Durga Singh – Karan Arjun (1995)

Cast: Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Raakhee Gulzar, Mamta Kulkarni, Kajol and Amrish Puri
Director: Rakesh Roshan

Mother India Paa Bollywood Moms

In the 1995 Bollywood film Karan Arjun, Rakhee Gulzar portrayed the role of Durga. Durga is the mother of the film’s two main characters, Karan (Salman Khan) and Arjun (Shah Rukh Khan).

Durga is represented as a fierce and determined woman who would stop at nothing to defend her sons and seek retribution for the wrongs done to her family. She is shown as a person who has gone through a great deal of hardship in her life, including losing both of her sons and her husband, yet has managed to survive by sheer force of will.

Durga is depicted as a fiercely protective mother who is also tender and compassionate towards her sons despite her intimidating appearance. She is someone who will risk her own life in order to save her sons and who will not stop until they are reunited and their murderers are brought to justice.

7. Maya Awasthi – Taare Zameen Par (2007)

Cast: Aamir Khan, Darsheel Safary, Tanay Chheda, Vipin Sharma and Tisca Chopra.

Director: Aamir Khan

Mother India Paa Bollywood Moms

The character of Maya is portrayed by Tisca Chopra in the 2007 movie Taare Zameen Par. Maya is the mother of the film’s main character, Ishaan (Darsheel Safary).

Maya is portrayed as a loving and supportive mother who cares deeply for her son. She is shown as a hardworking homemaker who starts her day as early as 5 am in the morning and does everything in need of her sons and husband. She is an emotional support for Ishaan and shares a loving attitude for him even though he is someone who is not good at his studies. She also becomes deeply sad when her husband decides for Ishaan to go to boarding school. When she comes to know about Ishaan’s dyslexia, she is deeply regretful for not understanding her son’s disabilities.

8. Rama Bhanot – Neerja (2016)

Cast: Sonam Kapoor, Shekhar Ravjiani, Shabana Azmi, Yogendra Tiku, Kavi Shastri and Jim Sarbh

Director: Ram Madhvani

Mother India Paa Bollywood Moms

In the 2016 biopic Neerja, Shabana Azmi portrays the role of Rama Bhanot, the titular character Neerja Bhanot’s (Sonam Kapoor) mother. Rama is presented as a powerful, loving mother who is incredibly proud of her daughter’s accomplishments. She is depicted as someone who has always inspired Neerja to follow her passions and aspirations, even when doing so requires taking chances and overcoming obstacles.

Rama’s character gives Neerja courage and inspiration. Neerja’s courageous acts during the hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 in 1986, when Neerja offered her own life to save the lives of her passengers, were motivated by her unshakable love and support for her daughter.

9. Nandini Raichand – Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham

Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Hrithik Roshan, and Kareena Kapoor Khan

Director: Karan Johar

Mother India Paa Bollywood Moms

Jaya Bachchan portrays the role of Nandini in the drama Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham from 2001. Nandini is the wife of affluent businessman Yashvardhan Raichand (Amitabh Bachchan) and the mother of Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan) and Rohan (Hrithik Roshan).

Nandini is described as a loving mother and wife who cares a great deal about her family. She is portrayed as a dedicated and encouraging mother to her sons as well as a loving and devoted wife to Yashvardhan. Nandini is described as being straightforward and down to earth despite leading a rich upbringing and placing higher importance on relationships and family than monetary belongings.

Nandini’s persona acts as a calming force on the Raichand family throughout the movie, bridging the chasm between the traditional and strict Yashvardhan and his son Rahul. Her unwavering love and support for her family is a motivating force behind the film’s emotional scenes, such as the Raichand family’s long-awaited reunion.

10. Dr Vidya Bharadwaj – Paa

Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, and Vidya Balan

Director: R. Balki

Mother India Paa Bollywood Moms

Vidya is a character in the 2009 film Paa, played by actress Vidya Balan. Vidya is a single mother and gynaecologist who discovers that her 12-year-old son, Auro (Amitabh Bachchan), suffers from a rare genetic disorder called progeria, which causes him to age rapidly.

Vidya is depicted as a strong-willed, determined and fiercely protective mother. Vidya is shown to be a mother who is always there for her son regardless of the obstacles she faces as a single mother parenting a child with a life-threatening disease.

She acts as an emotional support system and source of unwavering affection for Auro. Her desire to discover a treatment for her son’s condition causes her to rekindle her relationship with Auro’s father (Abhishek Bachchan) and develop new bonds with other those who are afflicted by the illness.

See Also: Mothers Day Special: Bollywood’s Most Iconic Screen Mothers