Mar 212013

An edited version of this appears in the Lokmat Times

The United Kingdom has been reeling under the impact of scandal after scandal to hit the news industry, especially the role of news in tapping phones to get scoops.  An official Inquiry was set up headed by Justice Leveson to look into this and amongst the recommendations that they made was that bloggers and users of twitter facing the same rules as the main stream media. The Inquiry recommended that the law be enforced against the online community to avoid a drop in the high standards of journalism practised by the mainstream media.  This is kind of ironic, given that the Inquiry was set up to deal with the impact of consistent rogue behaviour by the Mainstream Media in the United Kingdom. Currently the British Parliament is debating whether to bring in a regulator for bloggers who carry news & editorial content, and whether to impose higher fines on those who do not comply.

Index on Censorship has this to say on the debate

the Royal Charter’s loose definition of a ‘relevant publisher’ as a ‘website containing news-related material’ means blogs could be regulated under this new law as well. This will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on everyday people’s web use.

“Bloggers could find themselves subject to exemplary damages in court, due to the fact that they were not part of a regulator that was not intended for them in the first place. This mess of legislation has been thrown together with alarming haste: there’s little doubt we’ll repent for a while to come.”

Given that much of India’s IT laws are influenced by those in the UK, the Indian on-line community needs to start preemptive action to ensure that such laws are not passed in India. Already there are issues with the IT Act that curb freedom of expression. A regulator would just clamp down on the diversity that the net allows. There are a million flowers that bloom here, and a million opinions that are expressed – many of them cater to a fraction of the audience commanded by main stream media, with little or no financial backing and an inability to access high quality legal help. There are also practical issues – how do you regulate millions of websites. Also, if you are not registered with a regulator, can you not discuss news or editorialize? And is a regulated on-line world real time ?

In a Democracy there will always be views that will make some people uncomfortable. Yet it is this discomfort that allows Democracy to thrive. There are today, sites that look at news specific to gender issues that attack patriarchy; sites that look at Dalit and Tribal issues that attack caste practises; right wing sites that put forth their world view and attack the liberal ones; left wing sites that promote their ideology and attack everyone else – these are all independent perspectives. They have the right to be expressed.  News media on the other hand is supposed to report and disseminate information. It is Mainstream Media that has strayed into the world of opinion and opinion making, the online world has not strayed into news.  Also, if bloggers ought to be regualated, what about microbloggers . More of us get more traction on twitter than anywhere else. More views are shared, more dogma expressed & broken, more exchanges of ideas and ideals than anywhere else – also more that could be considered libelous by the powers that be. I have this vision of each nation creating their own version of Weibo, where sophisticated filters, million of watchers and absolute regulation rule. In china’s case, it is a communist nation and it makes no apologies for censorship. What excuse do Democracies have –  protecting the existing  power structure ?

Finally, the world has changed. The centralized power and information structure held by a few is dispersing. The net allows for anyone to be a publisher from anywhere. How do you regulate freedom? And, if you try and regulate it, is it still freedom ?

Lokmat Column - 21st March - Regulator for Bloggers

Feb 222013

MY column for Lokmat First’s Youth Page

Lokmat column  - Documentary Film Making

Documentary film making, as the name suggests has two aspects to it. The first is documenting a subject area, and the second is film making or visually building a story around it. Documentary film making generally deals with those topics that deal with reality – these could be historical, biographical, environmental, scientific, current affairs, sociological – anything that helps people understand the world better. There are many kinds of documentaries that are made – you have documentaries that are feature film length and are shown in theatres, and there are documentaries that are programme length and run on TV, and there are documentaries aimed at communicating an issue  or training people on a method, that are used for private screenings.  Documentaries communicate many different agendas, and can take anything between a few days and a few years to complete. For example, the average television documentary is usually put together in under a week, while a documentary that documented a number of children in the US as they grew up was spread over many years.

To be a documentary film maker you need to be curious about the world around you and have an aptitude for research and for story telling. So are there careers in Documentary Film Making?  Yes there are.

The following are some of the ways in which you can get into documentary film making. Whether you become a documentary film maker depends on your passion and dedication.

  • Join a News Channesl. Most news channels work with the documentary medium, either within a news programme or as a separate documentary slot.
  • Join a production house that specialises in making documentaries. There are companies that work with TV channels making documentaries either for the Indian or international audiences.
  • Work with a documentary film maker as an assistant. There are enough and more documentary film makers in India, and one of the best ways of learning, even today, is working with a senior film maker as an apprentice.

You may also want to look at the option of starting life making your own documentaries. Without working for anyone. In  today’s day and age, with the cost of technology dropping that is possible. These would be the steps in making a documentary on your own :

  • Find a subject that interests you and that you believe has a story that other people will find interesting.
  • Conduct research on this topic. All research does not come out google, you may have to talk to academics, journalists, specialists, policemen, lawmakers – depending on the nature of your documentary to – to collect more data on the subject
  • Collate this data – and start writing a structure for your documentary. Also based on your research, you would have a fair idea of who will sound good on camera and who will not.
  • Call up people and fix appointments for filming. If you are shooting the film yourself, without a cameraman, then practise shoot at home and play it back to see if it looks and sounds good.
  • List out other shots that you may need.
  • Go and shoot – and make sure both the audio and the video are good. Sound in documentaries, plays as important a part as it does in fiction. You can dub someone in a film or a programme, but an interview with bad sound is difficult to redeem.
  • Watch what you have shot, and write a story around it.
  • Use a free programme such as windows movie maker to edit your film.
  • Upload on a site and tell everyone you know.

The more you make, the better you will get. Don’t expect to make an award winning film the first time around – if you do it is a bonus.

Jul 012012

There was something about the way Rajesh Khanna smiled that made your heart lurch. It wasn’t a perfect smile by any stretch of imagination. It was slightly crooked. But there was a twinkle in the eye that went with the smile – a slight tilt of the head and  a swagger. It is hardly surprising that women of all ages fell for him like a ton of bricks. He was possibly the first Star to get mobbed and police would be deployed to keep the women away from him. In his hey day there was no other actor or star who could come close to his popularity . He was the original Superstar of India.


Rajesh Khanna (born Jatin Khanna) was the product of a talent hunt run by Filmfare and United Producers, in 1965. In a world without reality television or indeed 24 hour television – it is difficult to believe how a short, pimply, slightly podgy person, with really small eyes and poor skin won a talent hunt. But, obviously the panellists saw something that modern television does not. That something was Star Quality. The X factor that we all talk about but can never define. It is strange that none of the superstars produced by India have ever been the ‘gora, chikna’ varieties that television repeatedly throws up.


Rajesh Khanna’s first big – though big is an understatement – hit was Aaradhna, that set up the hit pairing of him and Sharmila Tagore. The film has Rajesh Khanna in a double role. Two songs in that film helped build the myth of Rajesh Khanna – super Romantic hero. The first was the wet song. The smouldering eyes of Rajesh Khanna following a very wet, blanket clad Sharmila in “roop tera mastana, pyaar mera deewana, bhool koyi humsena hojaye’. And the second is “Mere Sapnon ki Rani Kab Aaye gi tu” – the carefree lover boy song for that generation. Rajesh Khanna and Sharmilla Tagore was a hit jodi starring in some fabulous films- tragedies in which the loving couple never gets together. Amar Prem a film in which e he plays a dissolute landowner in Calcuttaand she a courtesan, and their unfulfilled love story. Songs such as Chingari Koi Bhadke, and Kuch toh Log Kahenge add to the pain of two good people (despite her profession and his habits) who will never see happiness in their lives. The same is the case in Safar – a story of sacrifice and tears and unconsummated love.

If the pairing between Sharmila and Rajesh Khanna was riddled with angst and guilt , the pairing between Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz was zany and fun. Who can forge the scene where like Jack and Jill they come tumbling down the hill under the influence of bhang in the film “aap ki kasam” – Jai Jai Shiv Shankar encapsulates the zing of the pairing. While the film is a tragedy (his possessiveness drives her away), their pairing was not. Films such as Apna Desh – remember Rajesh Khanna in that ghastly red jacket and peach trousers and Mumtaz in a blonde wig singing Duniya Mein Logon Ko Dhoka Kabhi Ho jaata hai – Sachcha Jhoota and Roti brought audiences in droves to the theatres.


While Rajesh Khanna played a great romantic hero, wooing his heroine with a light tough, he played the heart broken hero with more panache. There was something terribly vulnerable about him as the man who is pining for love. It is hardly surprising that his fanclub was predominantly women. They probably wanted to hug away all his sorrows. In films like Kati Patang , Safar, Aap ki Kasam or even Anand – his pain at rejection is palpable. Songs like Zindagi ke Safar mein bichad jayege (aap ki kasam),  Jeevan se Bhaari in Aankho mein, Zindagi ka Safar hai yeh kaisa safar (both in Safar)  – all added to the aura of Rajesh Khanna. The Rajesh Khanna Kishore Kumar combination is as much a part of Indian film legend as was the Raj Kapoor Mukesh or the Shammi Kapoor Mohd. Rafi Combination. IF people loved to see him fall in love, they also seemed to love to see him lose in love. And more importantly die before he can tell the one he loves that he loves her. The films in which he doesn’t get together with the heroine are numerous. Movies such as Aap Ki Kasam, Safar, Anand, Khamoshi, Namak Haram, Amar Prem saw the hero lose, women cry buckets in the theatre and box office registers ringing over and over again.

There were accusations of him being a light actor – but films like Safar and Anand– where he plays a cancer patient who knows he is dying – Khamoshi – where he plays a man committed to an asylum because he has had a nervous breakdown because he has lost in love or even Avtaar where he is the unforgiving father to ungrateful children – laid to rest that notion. But, audiences wanted to see him as the romantic hero, when romantic films were going tout of vogue. Audiences moved away from the romantic classics to the angry young man films – that were personified by Amitabh Bachchan. And Rajesh Khanna could not make the transition. Its possibly because audiences could not imagine him smouldering with anger, with passion maybe, with unrequited love maybe – but not with the desire to change society. His persona was very much – my corner of the world rather than I will change the world. And, he stuck to that. No matter how the industry or the fans treated him – he maintained his dignity and his distance and remained the star.


Top 10 films

  1. Aaradhna
  2. Aapki Kasam
  3. Anand
  4. Amar Prem
  5. Apna Desh
  6. Avtaar
  7. Kati Patang
  8. Khamoshi
  9. Namak Haram
  10. Roti
Jun 172012

Monsoon have arrived. The rains washing away the heat and the dust of the past few months. There is something uniquely beautiful and reinvigorating about the season – its almost as though its onset revives the parched soul and gives it hope. For most rains are the season of renewal, of rejoicing, of kids on the street playing cricket or football in the rain, of getting drenched. For an agrarian people rains represent life itself. It is almost as though nature wipes clean all the ugliness of the past year and gives you a second shot at living. Monsoons – the world looks washed, the skies look silver and grey. The trees sway, the air smells fresh and there is that cool breeze that refreshes. And, despite the wetness, the slush, the potholes and the traffic jams – it is a time for fun, a time for flirting and a time for falling in lust and in love.


Have fun for it is Raining – Rains are a time for pakodas, garma garam chai and masti. There is something wonderful about getting soaked.

There is an energy and a buzz, and just that wee bit of a devil may care attitude. Kishore Kumar in Chalti ka Naam Gaadi lightly pulls the leg of a rain soaked and very irritated Mahdubala – ek ladki bheegi bhaagi se. There is nothing romantic about that song, unless you happen to think “uska koi peech bhi dheela hai’ to be particularly romantic. It is a fun song, lilting and merry and quite out of synch with the weather outside (pagli si kaali raat mein –says the song). But it is rain that makes one giddy with cheer. A bit like the kids dancing in the rain and singing Ghode Jaise Chaal, Haathi Jaise Dum – as a prelude to the song picturised on Shahrukh and Madhuri Dixit in Dil Toh Pagal Hai. More recently in the hit film 3 Idiots, Rajkumar Hirani recreates the fun of old fashioned Hindi cinema with a hat tip to the rain song and dance. Kareena in a blazing orange sari that looks like she has been poured into it, and Aamir Khan have fun in the rain with Zobie Doobie (bhigi bhigi sari mein yooh tumki lagati tu, )

Hold me – thunder and lightning scare me – The first rains with thunder and lightening is when the hero and heroine discover that they are more than just good friends. It is almost as though they realise in a thunderclap what they mean to each other. But thunder and lightening serve another purpose and that is to get the hero and the heroine together. She is obviously frightened, he has broad shoulders – and chemistry takes care of the rest. In the film Dil Tera Deewana, the sound of thunder sends Mala Sinha scurrying into the waiting arms of Shammi Kapoor who declares his intent and is pleasantly surprised when she reciprocates. In Betaab it is the turn of Amrita Singh to rush to Sunny Deol (who indeed has very broad shoulders) with Badal yoon baraste hain. Thunder also brings Zeenat Aman and Rajesh Khanna closer in the film Ajnabee – Bheegi, Bheegi Raaton mein..

Sizzling in the Rain – For some strange reason, rains in India have an opposite effect of a cold shower. Instead of cooling down passions they invoke them. And, the hero and the heroine discover hormones in addition to love. Rajesh Khanna and Sharmil Tagore in Aaradhna get drenched in the rain, and find shelter in a convenient wooden lodge with a blazing fire. And while Kishore Kumar croons Roop Tera Mastana – and the rain rages outside the house, passion rages inside. In later years women took the initiative. Somehow there is something special about women wearing saris and getting wet in the rains. Raj Kapoor mastered the art of the wet look for a traditionally draped woman, and other directors have just taken it forward. Shekar Kapoor in Mr.India gives Sri Devi the wet look while she dances away with an invisible Mr.India. While Rain with non stop thunder & lightening, doesn’t deter a sari clad Raveena Tandon, in the film Mohra, from sizzling to Tip Tip Barsa Paani while Akshay Kumar looks dumb struck.

Falling in love in the Rains : Remember Amitabh Bachchan and Smita Patil dancing to Aaj Rapat Jaye to in Namak HalaI. The streets of Mumbai have never looked cleaner, and discovering the joys of love on a handcart has never seemed more appealing. Getting wet for an entire song sequence – shot over multiple days is never fun. It is a testimony to the skills of both actors who make the song seem to be the ultimate falling in love experience. If that song was energetic love, then Mujhe Jaan na Kahon meri Jaan picturised on Sanjeev Kumar & Tanuja is at the other end of the spectrum. Sung by Geeta Dutt with almost no musical accompaniment the song oozes romance & tenderness. Then there is the amazing Rhim Jhim Rum Jhum from 1942 – where Manisha Koirala and Anil Kapoor discover a whole new world of romance and oneness in the rains. And, who can forget Nargis and Raj Kapoor in Shree 420 – Pyaar Huva ik raar huva defined romance for an entire generation, as sharing an umbrella and getting equally wet in the rains
Longing in the Rain – where is there is love, there is longing. And for some reason rains make you miss the one you love. O Sajna Barkha Bahar aayi picturized on Sadhna for the film Parakh deals with the parched yearning of a lover for her beloved – ‘tum ko pukaare mere man kaa papeeharaa meethhee meethhee aganee me, jale moraa jiyaraa’. And longing itself is sweet. Because you know that the rains will bring him or her back to you, because they remember you just as much as you think about them. When Bharat Bhooshan sings Zindagi bhar nahi bhoolegi woh barsaat ki raat – his song resonates ith the woman he briefly met – Madhubala –who longs for him as much as he longs for her. Today’s world of instant messaging and instant communication does not leave much scope for longing to see the one you love. He or she is but a click or a speed dial away. But, in an earlier era – longing for the lover was expressed through verse. Barsaat mein humse mile tum Sajan – possibly the most definitive of all love songs that speak the yearning of love in the rains.

The monsoons – a time to forget about water borne diseases, and potholes, of traffic jams and water logging and maybe just for an afternoon reminiscing about love, romance and the nicer things of life.

Ssongs featured in this column


May 132012

My Column in today’s Lokmat 

Yes the Force will be with them

A mother is the cradle of civilisation. We are what we are because of them. And, in Indian cinema, they are the scene-stealers. And, also the cause for your samosa and popcorn getting oversalted, as your tear up in the comfort of the dark watching gung-ho males quivering their lips and warbling: “Maaaa!” Harini Calamur peeps into her bioscope to rewind Bharat”s history and Indian cinema”s solid theme on the special day and for Lokmat Times” continuing series on 100 years of Indian cinema

Aai! Maa! Mom! Mother. The term that is laden with emotion. An emotion of security and safety. An association of being well-loved. A memory of being scolded for doing wrong. A taste of your favourite meal. The comfort of hiding your head in her lap and wailing. The sensation of being protected, comforted and safe. A flash of her sitting next to you when you study. The vision of her bringing you a glass of piping hot tea, when you used to wake up really early to study for your board exams. And yes, a flash of her disapproving, which translates thus: “Look at something you have done!” All these memories are distilled in us as various threads that we can call on when we need it the most. These memories are indeed special. Almost every culture in the world has one day in the year dedicated to celebrating mothers, motherhood and the love that is showered on you. The logical question is why only one day, what about the remaining 364 days. And, the answer is quite simple — one day in a year helps create an ‘event’, sell cards, market chocolates, and create a warm & fuzzy feeling around motherhood.


In India the cult of worshipping the  mother is as old as time. The Mother Goddess, Mother Earth, Birth Mother, Adoptive Mother, Step Mothers, Mother of the heart – the epics had them all. The ancientIndusValleycivilisation had depictions of the mother Goddess. Hindu theology is replete with stories of the Mother of the Universe destroying evil and saving her children. The epics, the puranas have given us some fabulous role models as the epitome of motherhood. And, till today those ideal types  endure. Indian cinema has given them a lease of life and converted these to stereotypes we all know and love.  So, on Mother’s day –here is looking at you, mother!


The Mother as one who endures. The child gives birth to a mother, goes a popular saying. It is almost as though a switch is turned on. The moment a woman becomes a mother, her tolerance for all things increases exponentially. She endures for the sake of her child or children. She tolerates almost anything, until such time an invisible line is crossed. When that happens she takes action that is fairly final, including taking action against a child who disturbs the lives of her other children. . In legend this is the role played by Bhooma Devi or Mother Earth.  She who endures till she can endure no more. Movies have tried to build this epitome of motherhood through their narrative. All movie mothers built on this stereotype don’t necessarily have to kill their kids, but they definitely endure all sorts of travails and troubles while being good ‘marg darshaks’ for their children. The most famous of all Indian films based on this role model is Mehboob Khan’s film Mother India – starring Nargis. From the word go the movie is about a woman who endures everything that the universe throws at her. Death of a husband, extreme poverty, a salacious money lender, being a single mother, having to manage on her own – everything is taken in her stride with equanimity . The iconic poster of Mother India wielding a plough to farm on her meagre land and provide for her children reinforces this image of the Mother. And of course, the final scene in which she shoots her son to maintain ‘dharma’ is a hark back to the most ancient narratives of the mother. She has to do what is right for the good of the social order.

The Mother as the Guru, the teacher of values. A mother is the guide who forms the child’s character, teaches him between dharma and adharma. And, in this regard there is no mother greater than Kayadu, the wife of Hiranyakashyap and the mother of Prahlad. This tpye of mother is a pillar of goodness and decency and will stand up against her husband and disown her son, if need be, if they deviate from the path of righteousness. Indian films have honoured this form of mother in many movies. One of the most enduring Marathi Movies is Shyaamchi Aayi, based on the book by Sane Guruji. It is the story of a mother who teaches her son, through personal example,  the importance of values. Till today, the movie and its message resonate with audiences. Another mother in the same mould is Nirupa Roy in Deewar. She brings her sons up, with great difficulty –enduring poverty and manual labour to give them a chance at a better life. When her favourite son – Amitabh Bachchan (Vijay)  in one of the most powerful roles in Indian cinema – strays from the path of what is right, she disowns him and goes to live with the good son – Shashi Kapoor (Ravi). When Vijay taunts Ravi, in the film, with his wealth and possessions and asks Ravi what he has,Ravi’s retort “Mere paas maa hai” is a reminder of the values most mothers expected us to follow, and the acute disapproval when we didn’t follow those. The same is the case  with both variants of Agneepath. The mother’s disapproval of the wrong path chosen by the son is evident, as is the need of the son to be accepted by the mother. All three films end with the death of the errant son in the lap of the mother. As symbolism it can’t be greater – Motherhood will not accept wrong doing by the child and the imparting of values is as important as feeding or giving love.

The Unwed Mother – Happiness mana hai –  Ever since Kunti invoked the power of Surya – the Sun God to have a child, and then abandoned that child, Indian stories have had the motif of the unwed mother. The unwed mother will know no joy in her life. Her life is one of struggle and tears. Her overwhelming guilt at breaking societal rules and at abandoning her child cripples her actions, and allows her to believe that is her only fate in life is misery. The  Tamil film Dalapti, is a modern day interpretation of the friendship between Duryodhan and Karna – but the tragedy of the Mother is as much a pivot of the story as is the friendship. Sri Vidya plays mother to Rajnikanth (Surya) the son she abandons at birth, and Arjun, (Arvind Swamy)  the son she brings up. Her character, throughout the film, only expresses various degrees of acute unhappiness. The Hindi film Aaradhna and its Tamil Remake Sivakamiyin Selvan- have the lead female protagonist going through hell for act of having a child out of wedlock. However, the bonds of mamata are stronger than anything the universe can throw at the woman and she (Sharmila Tagore in Hindi, Vanisri in Tamil) stands like a rock to protect her son. In Paa, the heroine Vidya Balan, decides to be an unwed mother, and while society and her family is kinder to her, her child is afflicted with an illness that can only lead to tears all around. More modern films like Kya Kehna do not heap so much unhappiness on the unwed mother, but they are exceptions and not the norm.

Annapurna – the mother who feeds. Annapurna in Hindu theology is the goddess of food who takes great joy in seeing her children (all of us) fed. In Indian films. Maa ke haath ka khaana is one of the most oft repeated clichés. The mother is for ever making and feeding her children with the choicest of dishes. It is almost as though the love with which the mother makes the gaajar ka halwa or the garma garam phulke gives the hero a suraksha kawach with which the bullets of the bad guy are deflected. A mother, in Indian films, can look at her child and know his hunger. It has almost ruined most Indian children’s diets. The mother looks at her child, decides he is hungry and stuffs him with the most cholesterol ridden food. After all, if you cannot show your love through food, how else will you show it?

The Adoptive Mother – ever since Vasudev let  Krishna with Yashoda, on a dark and stormy night, motherhood implies the woman who nurtures and brings you up – not just the mother who gives birth to you. Movies like Naam, Parvarish, Amar Prem – talk about a feeling of ‘mamta’ that is beyond birth pangs. Her maternal instinct can embrace the whole world and still have enough maternal love left over for some aliens. In the film Anari(1959), Mrs.D’sa looks upon Raj Kumar (Raj Kapoor) as her own son, and he reciprocates that deep affection and feeling. Salma (Waheeda Rehman) brings up Sunny (Rishi Kapoor) with the same love that she had bestowed on her biological child Iqbal (Amitabh Bachchan) in the film Coolie.  In  Karan Johar’s film Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham – Jaya Bachchan’s character loves her adoptive son (Shah Rukh Khan) just as much as she cares about her biological son (Hrithik Roshan) . Movies  such as Mani Ratnam’s Tamil film Kannathil Mutthamittal (a peck on the cheek) deals with adoption in the modern era with a lot more sensitivity. But, it is an exception. By and large the old hindi film dialog “aaj se tu mera beta aur mein teri maa” (From today you are my son and I am your mother) holds more true than taking a nuanced look at adoption.

The Step Mother – ever since Kaykeyi moves into the kopagruha (the room of anger) and demands the exile of Ram and the coronation of Bharat – the role of the step mother has been looked at with suspicion. One of the earliest films from Kerala – the movie Balan dealt with a boy and a girl exploited by the evil step mother. They run away from home to find love elsewhere. In the Hindi film Beta – which is based on earlier Tamil (Enga Chinna Rasa) and Kanadda ( Mallammana Pavada) films deals with a step mother out of hell. Anil Kapoor’s character loves his step mother (Aruna Irani) and would move heaven and earth for her. She on the other hand wants him out of the way so that her own son can inherit everything. More recent films such as ‘We are Family” based on the Hollwyood film “Step Mom” take a more sensitive look at this issue – but frankly, it is far more fun to see an evil step mother on screen than have watch a much nuanced film on the same.

The Single Mother  – The prime example of a Single Mother who brings up her children with the best of care and nurtures them is Sita. She brings up her children alone, after her husband, Shri Ram, exiles her.  When they grow they take up the issue of their mother’s humiliation with their father fairly effectively. Kalidasa’s Shakuntala touches on the same theme. The woman rejected by her man and her fight for her child’s patrimony. The boy is Bharat – the emperor after whom this country is named. What greater tribute to a single mother.  Indian films are full of stories of women who are abandoned by their men because of social pressures. For example, in the film Trishool – Sanjeev Kumar abandons Waheeda Rehman. She moves away – into exile – and brings up her son. The son grows up to be Amitabh Bachchan and settles the score on his mother’s humiliation.

The Conflicted Mother – The bond of the mother and the child (son), as portrayed in legend so strong that it can sometimes threaten the authority of the man as the head of the household. One of the earliest example form the epics is the story of how Shiva decapitates his son for following his mother’s (Parvati’s) instructions .It takes a unleashing of Mother’s powers to get the Mahadeva to restore his Son’s life, albeit with an elephant’s head. That family lived happily after. But, most women have faced the conflict of choice between the two most important men in their lives – husband and son. In the film Moghul-e-Azan we see the depiction of the fight between Akbar (prithviraj kapoor) & Salim (Dilip Kumar). But the most imporatnat woman there is not Anarkali (Madhubala) but Jodha (Durga Khote) – the wife and the mother who is put in a position of having to choose. A similar predicament is faced by Rakhee in Shakti – her husband (Dilip Kumar) a cop and her son (Amitabh Bachchan) are estranged – and that takes a toll on her. She does, in both these cases, choose the husband – but the cost of her choice is high.

And finally even nature cannot compete with the power of motherhood. Death bows before her. As is evident in films like Karan Arjun – where Rakhee’s character wills her dead sons to be reincarnated to take revenge on those who wrecked her life.  The power of motherhood is a magic wand, it so impacts those who see it that even the wicked transform. In the film Dada (1979) gangster Fazlu (Amjad Khan) comes across the abandoned wife Tara Dharamdas (Seema Deo) and the way she brings up her son (Vinod Mehra). He is so moved by the power of that love that he turns new leaf and becomes ‘good’. The song “’Allah Karam Karna Maula Tu Reham Karna’ tells of the point of transformation of the bad into good through the power of mother hood. magic of motherhood is that it recognises ‘its blood’ even through blindness and does not need complex DNA tests. The line “meri mamta yeh keh rahi hai ki woh mera beta hai’ epitomises the woman’s link with her child. In the film Amar, Akbar, Anthony –a sightless  Nirupa Roy gravitates towards all her three lost sons without even realising that they  are hers. Motherhood sees no religion, no race, no looks. It just loves without questioning.

Indiais a young country – our median age is 26. In such an era film makers are tending to make films about the lives of 26 year olds and their trials, tribulations and coming of age. The mothers too have become more modern. Less traditional and more ‘cool’. However, when a film comes along that harks back to the traditional mother – the mother with the gajja ka halwa, the mother who soothes your brow, the mother who waits up for you to get home, the mother who yells at you because you are doing the wrong thing – it still resonates with the audience. Nothing stops us from celebrating Mother’s day all year long, but today is extra special. The day, that maybe, you tell you mother about all the little things that made your growing up years so very special.