Mother's Day 2020: 5 Bollywood Films That Normalised Non-biological Ways of Motherhood
Mother's Day, which falls on May 10 this year, is being celebrated in the midst of a global pandemic. However, it doesn't mean that we take this as an opportunity to not make this day special for our mothers. In honouring them, we must also acknowledge that motherhood is not always biological.
A woman does not necessarily have to biologically give birth to a baby to qualify as a mother. Motherhood can come through adoption, surrogacy and even with the help of In-vitro Fertilization (IVF) technique. With the wonders of modern technology, every person who wants to be parent can be so. Motherhood comes in more than one way and nobody should be made to feel different about it.
The makers of the popular '90s sitcom Friends made sure that each of the 3 female protagonists had a non-traditional form of childbirth. Phoebe Buffay, played by Lisa Kudrow, was a surrogate mother on-screen to her brother's children. Whereas Rachel Green, played by Jennifer Aniston, was a single mother and Monica Gellar adopted twins.
In Bollywood too, various iconic mother roles have been portrayed on screen by various actresses. The dialogue, "mere paas maa hain" (I have a mother) from Deewaar is still used in our day-to-day conversations, which reflects the impact women, especially mothers, hold in our lives. On the merry occasion of Mother's Day 2020, let's look at the times when non-traditional or non-biological ways were adopted by actresses to become mothers in movies.
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham
Rahul Raichand (Shah Rukh Khan) is the older adopted son of a rich family. His brother Rohan (Kavish Majumdar, Hrithik Roshan) is the biological son of Yash and Nandini, played by Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan respectively. The family dynamics in this Karan Johar film are complicated. Yash Raichand struggles to see Rahul as his son, and Rahul too never feels that his father has accepted him, so much so that when Yash tells Rahul 'you've proved that you're not my blood,' the latter is hurt but not surprised. However, what remains pure and intact is the love Nandini has for Rahul, which is probably stronger than what she has for her biological son. In the middle of this family drama, we forget how innate a mother's love is for her son in this film.
Kal Ho Na Ho
Majorly, this Nikkhil Advani film is a love triangle between Naina Catherine Kapoor (Preity Zinta), Aman Mathur (Shah Rukh Khan) and Rohit Patel (Saif Ali Khan). But people tend to forget the beautiful adoption storyline in the movie. Jaya Bachchan's character Jennifer gets a lot of flak from her mother-in-law, who believes her son committed suicide because Jennifer adopted a girl, Gia (Jhanak Shukla). In this, Kal Ho Na Ho becomes the story of a mother's resilience, as she fights for her adoptive child to gain the love and respect her biological children have, as much as it is a love story.
This Meghna Gulzar film shows two friends Rewa Singh (Tabu) and Sia Seth (Sushmita Sen). When Tabu's married character Rewa cannot conceive a child, her friend steps in to be the surrogate. Meghna's directorial debut was way ahead of it's time. Not only did it feature power-packed performances by Sushmita Sen and Tabu but it also portrayed a very realistic depiction of the changes that a huge step like this can bring to relationships. Unlike Chori Chori, Chupke Chupke, this film did not deal with the surrogate mother's conflicting emotions about keeping the baby, but very realistically showed how Rewa felt insecure about being left out of the process of childbirth.
Sridevi, in her last film, was applauded for her performance as the vigilante mother who seeks revenge for her step-daughter's rape. A film like Mom is important because for years fairytales and folklores have painted stepmothers as evil. Terms like "stepmotherly treatment" have also affected how people perceive women. That's also what Sridevi's character Devki faces-- a hostile step-daughter who never wants to build a relationship with her till the very end. Mom may be a crime-thriller, but it also shows how motherhood doesn't have to be biological.
Raj Mehta's comedy of errors deals with two couples, who are trying to have a baby but get infertilised with the wrong sperm samples due to the confusion caused by the same surnames, Batra. Varun and Deepti Batra (Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor) are a sophisticated couple whose lives turn around when Honey and Monika Batra (Diljit Dosanjh, Kiara Advani) get involved in their lives. Good Newwz deals with non-traditional childbirth and even explores hard-hitting concepts like infertility, miscarriage and premature childbirth. Though, not without faults, the film does wonders in normalising the fact that journey of motherhood doesn't have to be traditional and how the parentage of a child is also not important if you love it like it's your own.
We should also mention that Laxman Utekar is making a film called Mimi about a young surrogate mother, played by Kriti Sanon. Inspired by the National Award-winning Marathi film Mala Aai Vhhaychy, the film also stars Sai Tamahankar, Pankaj Tripathi, Manoj Pahwa and Supriya Pathak.
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