More often than not, one of the greatest complications we face as adults is our relationship with our parents. Call it generation gap problems, or some unsettled, compressed emotions from childhood. The pent-up feelings do come out in some or the other way. Sometimes as angry words, other times in self-sabotaging behaviour. Movies can often help in giving insight into complicated parent-child relationships, depicting dysfunctional familial situations that are sometimes more relatable than one might like to admit.
Anvita Dutt’s Qala follows the story of a fraught mother-daughter relationship, set amid the bleak landscape of a snow-clad Himachal Pradesh. It assesses the complex mother-daughter dynamic and inner conflicts we all sometimes succumb to. The thematic setting complements the grief of its lead protagonist, Qala Manjushree, played by Tripti Dimri. Tormented by her past, Qala is a budding singer and hopeful to live up to her family’s illustrations singing legacy as advised by her stern mother (played by Swastika Mukherjee). The impressionable daughter wants to win over her taskmaster mother and craves her validation. However, the mother is captivated by the energy exuding in orphan Jagan’s (Babil Khan) voice. She bestows him with mother-son affection, sideling Qala and leading her to the path of self-doubt and destruction.
As Qala releases today, we look at other recent Hindi films that explored the grey areas of parental relationships.
Films That Portrayed Complicated Parental Relationship
Gehraiyaan – Naseeruddin Shah and Deepika Padukone
Directed by Shakun Batra, Gehraiyaan might largely be about infidelity but it also very briefly captures the complexities of life, particularly the weight of unhealed childhood trauma. Naseeruddin Shah plays an estranged father to Deepika Pudokone’s Alisha. Shah is a reclusive widower, staying in Nashik, all alone, and running a modest dairy farm. He chose this exile after leaving the thriving family business decades ago and uprooted his wife and daughter from their Mumbai home. Unhappy with the sudden transition, his wife Sonali dies by suicide. His daughter, now 30 and living in Mumbai, blames him for everything.
In a bare-all session between the father-daughter duo, Shah reveals their shared past and reveals what triggered the move. Alisha, who is also struggling with a secret, is comforted by Shah who tells her that bad decisions don’t define us, we are so much more than that.
Jayeshbhai Jordaar – Ranveer Singh, Bomban Irani, Jia Vaidya
In Jayeshbhai Jordaar, the raging need for a male heir drives a family crazy. Ranveer Singh plays the timid father to 9-year-old Siddhi (Jia Vaidya), and the husband of Mudra, played by Shalini Pandey. Jayesh’s fearsome father Pruthvish (Boman Irani) and forlorn mother Jasoda (Ratna Pathak Shah) have been following the age-old traditions of their village in Gujarat. They want a grandson to carry forward the family name and don’t think twice before carrying out several abortions.
Pruthvish is a stubborn patriarch who acts on his anger after realising that his son is trying to break away from the required norms. However, it is the firecracker Siddhi who bridges the gap and helps parents escape from the household in a bid to save her unborn younger sister.
She keeps her parents’ relationship tightly knit and urges her father to be ‘jordaar’ and take a stand against the authority. She is the most courageous — even commanding a bus full of Haryana wrestlers to help her father.
Maja Ma – Madhuri Dixit and Ritwik Bhowmik
Directed by Anand Tiwari and written by Sumit Batheja, Maja Ma sees Madhuri Dixit play Pallavi, a ‘perfect’ mother and wife who carries a secret within. She enjoys a God-like stature in the eyes of her son (played by Ritwik Bhowmik), and the community, she is effortlessly the woman that we all know and have grown up with – a sacrificial personality.
However, when her secret accidentally stumbles out, the millennial-privileged son struggles to accept his mother’s new identity and wants Pallavi to be a good mom over a human being.
JugJugg Jeeyo – Varun Dhawan and Neetu Kapoor
JugJugg Jeeyo is not about love but about marriages going wrong, infidelity, and the divorce talk. It’s about marriage, and the many fault lines one has to carefully navigate to make the years-long companionship work. It’s about the exhaustion that creeps into even the most seemingly perfect and stable unions. Childhood sweethearts Kukoo (Varun Dhawan) and Naina (Kiara Advani) are headed for a divorce five years into their marriage, however, they come to a shock after their homecoming for a family wedding. Kukoo’s father Bheem (Anil Kapoor) reveals he is planning to end his 35-year-long marriage with Kukoo’s mother Geeta (Neetu Kapoor).
Though Jugjugg Jeeyo relies heavily on Kapoor’s charisma, he is also selfish, conceited, and manipulative, with the gravitas of a 19-year-old. While Dhawan and Kapoor talk a lot about their personal takes on marriage, women, and desires over patilia pegs, not much is discussed about Geeta’s choices. She is yet again portrayed to be the sacrificial, sanitised version of a mother and when actual confrontation happens, Dhawan is shocked to see his mom hold the agency.
Dil Dhadakne Do – Shefali Shah and Priyanka Chopra
Who could ever forget Shah’s soul-stinging performance in Dil Dhadakne Do? She is definitely the best part of the film for while she is flawed due to her traditional way of thinking, she is a loving mother too. She is flawed because she doesn’t take a stand for her daughter (played by Priyanka Chopra), who is trapped in a loveless marriage and rebukes her when she demands for a divorce. Shah’s angry eyes in the scene can put the mightiest to a scare. However, she comes around in the later part of the movie when she realises to prioritise her children’s happiness instead of societal obligations.
Suggested Reading: Piercing, Loving, Sensual, Tired: The Many Gazes Of Shefali Shah
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