In his acceptance speech after winning the Oscar for Best Original Score for SlumdogMillionaire (2009), A.R. Rahman thanked his mother in the best way anyone connected with Hindi films would. He said, Mere pass Maa hai…” the classic Salim-Javed scripted line from Deewar (1975) forever created a special place for the character of the mother in Hindi films.

Reema Lagoo. File photo.

For the longest time, the onscreen ‘Maa’ was always meant to be Nirupa Roy, or Sulochana before her, until 1989 when the baton was passed on to Reema Lagoo.

The veteran Marathi and Hindi film actor, who was also active on Marathi stage for almost forty years, Reema Lagoo, 59, passed away following a cardiac arrest earlier today and with her death, the era of iconic onscreen mothers has come to an end.

Popular Hindi films would perhaps be the only cinema in the world where typecasting of an actor happens at some other level. Here, an actor is not only associated for a better part of their career with a specific role that they portray — such as Jagdish Raaj, who was always the police inspector or Iftekhar, who was so convincing as a police commissioner that many a time he would waltz through customs at Indian airports — but also get attached to another actor thanks to the relationship their characters shared.

This is the reason that after the success of Deewar Nirupa Roy was fondly referred to as ‘Amitabh ki maa’ or Nazir Hussain was the jagat daidee.

The year when Reema Lagoo became ‘Salman ki mummy’ in Maine Pyar Kiya (1989) was truly a transitional phase for not only the leading man or the narrative in commercial Hindi films but also the supporting actors, specifically onscreen mothers.

The foundation of the change across these parameters was laid by Mansoor Khan’s Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988) where the hero was a departure from the Angry Young Man template popularised by Amitabh Bachchan and even the roles frequented by the then young stars Anil Kapoor (MeriJung, Mashaal, Karma), Jackie Shroff (Hero, MeraJawaab), Sunny Deol (Arjun, Dacait) or Sanjay Dutt (Jeeva, Naam).

Even the character actors portraying the elders in the film were different where a father (Dalip Tahil) was not too far off in age or temperament from his college going son (Aamir Khan). The ‘new’ kind of classic Hindi film narrative (songs, dances, drama et al.) that was attempted by Qayamat Se Qayamat Takm came into its own with Sooraj Barjatya’s Maine Pyar Kiya and in it, Reema Lagoo as the hero’s mother ushered in the new phase of the reel mother.

While Reema Lagoo was seen as a ‘star’ mother for the first time in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak where she played the mother of the leading lady (Juhi Chawla), in Maine Pyar Kiya that she introduced the new-age mum for Hindi films. Reema Lagoo’s mother character, Kaushalya Choudhary, was a departure from the Nirupa Roys and Sulochanas for she could perfectly balance the old and the new.

The 1990s were truly the golden phase for Reema Lagoo not just in films but also television.

Beginning in the mid-1990s the subjects and themes that were considered the mainstay of popular Hindi for the longest time began to undergo a sea of change. This was a phase where the maa, baap and bhai, bhen characters were being re-looked at and as the audience was getting younger by the year these characters, too, couldn’t remain the same. At the same time, stars such as Amitabh Bachchan were re-modelling themselves as characters actors that led to an entire generation of actors who excelled at these roles being pushed off the radar. It was around this time that Reema Lagoo got to play one of the best-written characters in popular Hindi cinema and perhaps the one that would come to be seen as her greatest role.

One could safely say that Vaastav’s Shanta could be the 1990s’ Radha from Mother India (1957) and while Radha might be seen as a greater role Shanta nonetheless in a way surpassed the other great onscreen Maa from Deewar.

RIP Reema Lagoo: From Hum Aapke Hain…Koun! to Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, the perfect screen mom

 

Source: Bombay Mirror

 

Tags: Bollywood, On screen mothers, Reema lagoo, Rip, cardiac arrest, Death, Hindi Film Actress

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