Else where

Else where

Too ludicrous to laugh out loud

Remember Nirupa Roy, that uncrowned yet unchallenged martyr mom of 1970s Hindi cinema? I never thought there would come a day when I’d describe her unabashed hamming as understated acting!

But after having my senses assaulted by helicopter mom Maya in ‘We Are Family’, my respect for Mama Roy has gone up by leaps and bounds.

After all, at her worst, she had force-fed her six-foot, seventy-five kilo screen son katoris of kheer, chastising him for his poor appetite but Maya mommy takes the kheer, the kadai and the kitchen for her magnificent obsession with her bratty brigade.

Her ‘mama-knows-best’ act not only grates on the nerves, it signifies a huge step backwards for every thinking person — mommy or not. The hype so carefully constructed about the miracles of mommyhood is more than a little galling. And I’ll tell you why: most women have got enough to deal with without running up against the overinflated expectations the rest of the world — especially tacky commercial Hindi cinema  — has of them.

Sweeping generalisations tend to trip off Maya’s tongue quicker than the ‘dahlings’ that pepper KJO’s coffee-and-conversation shows. The way she smugly mouths lines such as ‘If you are a woman, you are the mom-type’ is assured to make you break into goosebumps!

It’s time filmmakers from Malabar Hill faced up to the truth that young women in the rest of India are unapologetically ambitious – it would be strange if they weren’t, given the opportunities afforded by the expanding economy. So, why take away their hard-won success from them with such repulsive dialogues and such cliched films?

The stereotype of ferocious dragon mom who froths and foams at the sight of her cherub biting into a peanut butter cookie baked by the clueless ‘other woman’ masquerading as mom is not just silly, it’s downright scary.

No doubt parenthood is a job and an important one. But to imply that everyone from the potty-trained toddler to the potted plant in the living room will wilt and die if Mama is not hovering close by is carrying the ideal to absurd heights.

Just in case any of KJo’s celebrity pals want to give him something really, really useful for Diwali, here’s what they must do: gift him a coffee session with a no-nonsense grandma for whom child-rearing was, is and will always be a part of life, not an excuse for any woman to morph from human to monster. Or, buy him a copy of Cassandra Jardine’s ‘How to be a Better Parent’. By god, the dude needs it fast if he ever hopes to make films that reflect real people and real families.

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