The Dimpled Mom in Bollywood
Bollywood's favourite screen mother Reema Lagoo passed away on May 18 in Mumbai. Born as Gurinder Bhadbhade in 1958, Lagoo's acting potential were first noticed while she was studying at the Huzurpaga HHCP High School in Pune. Her professional acting kicked off as soon as she finished high school. A regular on Marathi stage and films, Lagoo, despite her calibre, was made to play a mother's role very early on in her career, in films like Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak , Maine Pyar Kiya , Saajan, Gumrah and Jai Kishen.
Ascribing it to stereotyping by the industry, she said in an interview, "Success in a particular role automatically gets you the same roles over and over again." But how can we forget her role in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Hum Aapke Hain Koun. Her role as a mom who is also a friend became a leitmotif for affectionate banter and happiness in a dialogue driven Bollywood. Lagoo was also a veteran in the chemistry she had with her actors onscreen. With Alok Nath in Hum Aapke Hain Koun she revels as a mother who was also attractive and had a robust womanly aura. Lagoo had a strength of character that she portrayed through the minutes she had, she also had a grace that stood on its own. Lagoo was also the best ambassador for the sari. You could swoon when you saw the sari and jewellery she wore in both Hum Aapke Hain Koun and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Interesting how when you don a role all caste and creed and highs and lows blur what emerges is the embodiment of the persona. Lagoo was pragmatic and full of poise in the roles she portrayed; neither did she vie for media attention. This set her apart in terms of dignity and strength. In an interview she said she was a great admirer of yesteryear heroines Nargis, Nirupa Roy and Kamini Kaushal.
But Bollywood moms have changed over the years in terms of portrayals and circumstances. "While the basic emotions of love and tenderness continue, modern-day mothers are different in the sense that they come across more as a friend to the children. In Hum Aapke Hain Koun or Maine Pyar Kiya, I was seen as someone with whom the children could share their problems. While in Aashiqui, playing a single working mother, I advise the heroine to pursue her dreams of becoming successful rather than succumb to the demands of marriage. All these mirror the changes in women in present society. In Naamkaran, I'm modern like today's women, I sit at my laptop and surf the internet."
Lagoo was sad about shrinking space for mothers in modern day movies. "It is not just the mother or father – the depiction of family itself is missing in many of today's narratives. I miss the films that Hrishikesh Mukherjee and BasuChatterjee used to make – woven around family and the middle-class, showing their problems, joys and sorrows. Now, we see characters that either live in slums or are super rich," she has often said in interviews to newspapers. A lover of English and Western cinema she loved watching films which starred, Judi Dench and Meryl Streep wherein they play their age and don pivotal roles. One of her favourite films was Streep's The Devil Wears Prada .It meant that she kept up with the rest of the world while she polished her own craft born of the crucible of Marathi cinema and stage. Among Indian films she often quoted the role of Nargis in Mother India, Nirupa Roy in Deewaar, Dina Pathak in Kitaabor, Jennifer Kendal in 36 Chowringhee Lane. An authority in the art of personification she stood for character roles that were born of substance and were content-driven. Indian cinema loses its most treasured mom.
Her most treasured roles were in the blockbusters, Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! (1994),Yeh Dillagi (1994), Dilwale (1994), Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), and Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003).