Breaking the stereotypes of motherhood

In honour of mothers everywhere, Payal Mohta writes an ode to mothers by turning to some movies that have shattered the stereotypical portrayal of motherhood.


Nurturing. Affectionate. Comforting. These are the words that one associates with a mother. To be wrapped in your mother’s embrace, have her feed you a home cooked meal or sing to you your favourite lullaby are memories we all indulge in times of distress.

In Indian culture, the suffix Ma or mother is invariably attached to the names of goddesses. Worshipping a woman in the form of a mother is regarded as the highest form of respect one can attribute to her, often to a point of suffocation. As the mother is the crux on which society depends on for its continuance we have conveniently formed a holy aura around it.  In the process one forgets that motherhood is only a part of womanhood, that mothers have chinks in their armour, that they have desires and ambitions that their children are not always a part of, that they don’t always have the right answers and can often be destructive for the ones they attempt to protect. But nevertheless, allowances should be made for their faults because that is what makes them real.

Cinema has often been a voice of progress and path-breaking for the portrayal of women. Here are five films that showcase the myriad facets of motherhood through their characters.


In this refreshing Bollywood family drama, Shridevi plays a typical middle-class dutiful wife and doting mother. It is only the language divide created by her husband through the medium of English that disturbs her domestic life. The film showcases her evolving from a timid woman to fighting all odds to learn English and seek self-respect not only from her family but from herself too.





Apart from being the much-awaited Madhuri Dixit come back film this was also one of the few women-centric Bollywood movies. Dixit plays an ardent classical dancer who elopes with an American photographer after her relationship is not accepted by her parents. She returns to her homeland in the untimely death of her dance guru (teacher). Despite being a single mother and having a well- established dance career abroad she attempts to revive the dance culture in her homeland driven by a single emotion-the passion for the art.




Though the film is predominantly about the life of three young men, the character of Dimple Kapadia cuts an unusual maternal arc. Divorced and denied custody of her child her life does not come to a standstill. Apart from pursuing an independent career she also becomes a much-desired muse for Akshay Khanna’s character. Though she cannot reciprocate the feelings Khanna has for her in the film, she shares an independent friendship with him, and then finally moves on with her life leaving him behind.




Kate Winslet plays an ambitious struggling actress whose career begins to stagnate when marriage brings her to a domestic life in the suburbs. Desperate to give new meaning to her life she persuades her husband played by Leonardo Dicaprio to move to Paris. Unfortunately much to Winslet’s dismay, their escapade is abandoned when her husband receives a promotion at work and she is pregnant with their second child. The film then follows the complete destruction of their marriage. Winslet has a dispassionate affair with her neighbour and feeling suffocated by the thought of another child she performs her own vacuum aspiration abortion, which ultimately proves fatal.



Not quite, the obvious choice, Regina George’s mother still tops our list of unconventionally amazing moms. Regina George’s mom has a grip on reality when it comes to teenage drinking and sex. Mrs. George takes a progressive approach on this, by supervising her daughter’s drinking and ensuring that she is up top with her birth control.




Your mother too may have facets of her personality that she hasn’t shared with you yet.  As you grow more perceptive towards her you will discover them, kick-starting a much deeper relationship with her.


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