Even though Bollywood strays into its own type of magical realism when it comes to romance and action, it deserves some credit for portraying familial bonds realistically. Although Bollywood has let us down on many occasions, it also has proved itself through heart-warming portrayals of mother-daughter relationships.
Here is a list of our favorite mother-daughter duos that melted our hearts in the last two decades:
1. Mitr, My Friend (2002)
Set in the United States, this award-winning movie marked the directorial debut of the South Indian actress Revathy. Packed with a stellar performance by Shobhana, the theme of the film is the loneliness of an Indian mother abroad. Caught between her husband and her rebellious teenage daughter, both of whom are well-adapted to the American ways, Lakshmi suddenly finds herself alone in a strange world without a friend. As she gradually develops a connection with an unknown person on the internet, we see that she reconciles with her daughter, and their relationship too grows into a friendship.
2. Listen… Amaya (2013)
Directed by Avinash Kumar Singh, thisis a movie about a daughter’s meandering relationship with her widowed mother. Leela, who runs a cafe bookshop in Delhi, strikes a friendship with a widowed photographer named Jayant. Her daughter Amaya, played by Swara Bhasker, struggles to come to terms with their growing friendship. When Amaya, who is a writer, starts working together with Jayant on a book, she has to deal with her insecurities as well as preserve the relationship with her mother.
3. Parched (2015)
Written and directed by Leena Yadav, Parched is an internationally acclaimed movie about Indian rural life. The film explores the themes of child marriage, domestic abuse, marital rape, dowry, and evils of patriarchy.
The movie focuses on the relationships between four women that are forged through hardships that these women suffer in a conservative, patriarchal society. Rani, who marries her teenage son married to a child bride, named Janki, Lajjo, who is a friend to Rani and is herself abused by her alcoholic husband, and Bijli, a dancer. These women come together and are seen freeing each other from the shackles of patriarchy as the movie ends.
4. Dilwale Dulheniya Le Jaayenge (1995)
This romantic classic is a favorite among Indian audiences. Although it is perceived as an iconic love story, there is an underlying thread that is still unexplored. The story exemplifies women who lead privileged lives but yet do not have agency over their lives. The poignant scene in which Simran’s mother tells her to elope shows the status of women in a patriarchal society where men are the sole decision-makers.
5. Shubh Mangal Saavdhan (2017)
The Bollywood Romantic Comedy starring the celebrated acting pair Bhumi Padnekar and Ayushmann Khurrana breaks many unwritten rules about “modesty” in relationships. This hilarious movie is about tackling a young couple’s sexual issues and how their families get involved, except this time, to help them solve their problem. Digressing from the norm, the mother and father of the girl in this movie isn’t shy of discussing personal issues such as physical needs. The movie also features one of the strongest mother and daughter duos to be portrayed in Bollywood
6. English Vinglish (2012)
This movie marked the comeback of legendary actress Sreedevi as well as the directorial debut of Gauri Shinde. It talks about the life of an Indian woman who struggles with her identity because she doesn’t speak English. She travels to America to realize her need to be treated with respect and dignity by her husband and adolescent daughter. Determined to fight to win back her place in the family, she enrolls in an English course. This sets off her journey towards self-realization. Sashi, portrayed brilliantly by Sreedevi, remains a doting mother despite how her daughter treats her.
7. Secret Superstar (2017)
Directed by Advait Chandan, this is a film about dreams and aspirations and a family’s efforts to making them true. The movie also touches upon crucial topics such as domestic violence and the restrictions girls face in spite of being incredibly talented. Her father’s abuses almost crush Insia’s dreams, but she survives with the support of her mother, Najma. She returns the favor by instigating her mother to divorce her abusive father. The powerful story is about courage and how we stand up for each other in the face of hardship.
8. Nil Battey Sannata (2015)
Narrating a somewhat unconventional story of a determined mother and an unmotivated daughter, Nil Battey Sannata won hearts for its unique rendering and its light-heartedness. It is directed by Ashwini Iyer Tiwari and spots Swara Bhaskar and Ria Shukla in lead roles. Bhaskar’s character, named Chanda is a mother determined to give a better life to her daughter than hers. However, her daughter does not share her passion and slacks in academics. The story follows the comic story after Chanda decides to enroll in her young daughter’s school to be able to tutor her. The simple storyline reiterates a parent’s desire to see their children better off.
9. Bend It Beckham (2002)
Although it is not a Bollywood movie, we couldn’t help mentioning this Indian-English classic. Set in London, the movie is about Jess, a young Punjabi girl’s infatuation with sports, especially Football. Her conservative Indian family does not approve of this, forcing Jess to pursue her dream behind their backs. Jess’s mother played by Shaheen Khan, becomes a traditional Indian mother on the screen to her 18-year-old daughter. Their relationship goes through ups and downs. They finally learn to respect their dreams for one another while also letting each other grow.
Bollywood is in an experimental stage where it is breaking the old stereotypes and exploring newer themes in refreshing details. Let’s hope that it stays the course and create good movies. Did we miss a good movie that puts mother and daughter at its center? Let us know in the comments below.