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Bollywood Should Stop Glorifying Motherhood. 5 Reasons Why

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Maa Ki Mamta, a trope that Bollywood has been using ever since its conception to define mothers and their “selfless love”. Bollywood mothers are ever forgiving and sacrificial and will do everything to put that roti on her son’s plate and not her own. Time to stop glorifying motherhood in films?

The latest example of a mother being presented as a “supreme being” is the Laxman Utekar directorial Mimi. Though called one of the most loved movies of 2021, did it give the protagonist her due? When are we doing away with glorifying motherhood in movies?

5 reasons to stop glorifying motherhood in Bollywood films

1. Mothers shouldn’t have to keep sacrificing their dreams

The much acclaimed movie Mimi starts with the female lead aspiring to become an actor. But the movie then becomes about her journey as a surrogate mother. Though she agrees to become one in return for money, her life changes after the birth of her child and her dreams take a backseat. Moreover, how can we forget Bhanu saying that carrying a child in one’s womb is the “greatest task” on earth!

Our films always glorify women who shelf their goals to raise children and vilify those who don’t. In the 2004 movie Aitraaz, Sonia (Priyanka Chopra) is sure that she wants to focus on her career and does not want a child. But she was presented as a villain who couldn’t give up her dreams for the sake of her child.

2. A mother is not a superwoman

We have a tendency to project mothers as women who are all-rounders. They are raised to the position of Gods which prevents us from looking at them as human beings. In Shakuntala Devi, Anupama (Sanya Malhotra), the protagonists daughter, in a monologue says,”Maa ko bhagwan ka nahi, bhagwan ko maa ka darja diya jaata hai.” This kind of toxic glorification prevents her from seeing her mother as a person and blames her for “ruining her childhood.”

3. Motherhood is not a woman’s only identity

When Anupama becomes a mother in Shakuntala Devi, she is told that her only job now is to look after her daughter. Though she is flourishing in her career, the birth of her child is seen as her ‘only achievement’. Bollywood wants us to believe that a mother may be independent, successful and financially well off but it hardly matters after she has someone to address her as “maa“.

4. Mothers instincts don’t work ‘magically’

Another reason why Bollywood should stop motherhood glorification is that mothers are not ‘magicians’. Their ‘instincts’ cannot hit the bull’s eye at all times. Remember the epic Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham scene where Nandini (Jaya Bachchan) ‘instinctively’ understands that her son Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan) is back home? Not only that, she even spots him at a mall amidst a huge mass of people without much effort. Clearly, mothers don’t have such ‘supernatural powers’. Why are we obsessed with such unrealistic portrayal of motherhood in films?

5. Is a mother’s obsession with her child acceptable?

Eela (Kajol) from Helicopter Eela and Shakuntala from Shakuntala Devi are perfect examples of obsessive parents who cannot see the world that lies beyond their children. The former, once an aspiring singer, gives up her dreams to bring up her son. In the course of time, she becomes a helicoptering parent denying him any privacy. To top it all, she takes admission in his college to complete her studies. What else can I say?

Shakuntala (Vidya Balan), on the other hand is an unconventional mother with high aspirations. But her fear that she is “not doing enough” for her daughter turns her into an obsessive mother. She separates Anupama from her father, takes her to a different country every other day because she has to travel for work and unknowingly starts robbing her of her childhood. But the audience does not raise a question because after all, that’s what mothers are supposed to do, right?