Bollywood's Most Famous Mothers
1. 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 (1960) is most memorable. She is also remembered for her powerful portrayal of Kaikayee in Vijay Bhatt’s classic Bharat Milap (1942), wherein she turns the arch villain of the epic Ramayana to make her son Bharat the Crown Prince. Her other great performances were in Charno Ki Dassi (1941), Mirza Ghalib (50s), Bobby and Bidai (1974) for which she won Filmfare Award. One of the most respected ladies of the Hindi cinema, she was awarded the most prestigious ‘Dada Sahib Phalke’ award in 1983 and was honored by the Government of India with the civilian award of Padma Shri
2. Lalita Pawar: Hindi cinema’s 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. She won Filmfare Best Supporting Actress award for her role in Anari. However, she is best remembered for her hilarious portrayal of heroin’s mother who falls for her daughter’s boy friend in disguise in the super hit film Professor.
3. 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 (1942), Ratan (1944), Anmol Ghadi (1946), Dillagi (1949), Bazar (1949), Andaz (1949), Jan Pehchan (1950), Aar Paar (1954), Chori Chori (1956) and Dhool Ka Phool (1959).
4. Leela Mishra: A lovable mother on screen since the 40s, she became more popular as Mausi after her most remembered role as Hema Malini’s Mausi in the all time super hit Shole (1975). She has played mother or Mausi or grand mother in over 150 films which include many great hits like Chitralekha (1941), Khamoshi (1942), Vish Kanya (1943), Ghunghat (1946), Anmol Ghadi (1946), Bahar (1951), Awara (1952), Daag (1952), Teen Batti Char Rasta (1953), Shikast (1953), Ladki (1953), Aah (1953), Nastik (1954), Pyaasa (1957), Lajwanti (1958), Goonj Uthi Shehnai (1959), Sasural (1961), Milan (1967), Khushboo (1975), Sholay (1975) and Dulhan Wahi Jo Piya Man Bhave (1977), Prem Rog (1982), Sadma (1982) and Atank (1996).
5. 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 Filmistan’s 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 Kapoor’s Awara (1951), Bimal Roy’s Maa (1952), Dilip Kumar’s Ganga Jamuna (1961) and Dev Anand’s Guide (1965). .
6. 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.
7. Nirupa Roy: The most favorite onscreen mother of super stars, especially Amitabh Bachchan, Nirupa Roy became Bollywood’s 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 mother’s 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 Amitabh’s mother were Amar Akbar Anthony, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Suhaag, Mard and one last time in Lal Badshah.
8. Kamini Kaushal: The famous 1940s and 1950s star, Kamini Kaushal segued towards character roles after she was offered a strong role as Bhagat Singh’s mother in Manoj Kumar’s Shaheed (1965). She played Manoj’s 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.
9. 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.
10. 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 (Bhuwan’s mother), Bollywood/Hollywood and Pinjar.
Apart from the top ten Bollywood mothers included above, some of our stars have given memorable performances as mother which were not only applauded by the audiences but also won them critics’ awards – Farida Jalal (Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge), Nutan (Meri Jung and Karma), Wahida Rehman (Trishul), Sharmila Tagore (Aradhna and Virudh), Rima Lagoo (Maine Pyar Kiya and Hum Apke Hain Kaun), Kiran Kher (Devdas as Paro’s mother), Hema Malini (Baghban) and last but not the least, Jaya Bachchan (Fiza, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and Kal Ho Na Ho).