Many actresses in Bollywood have played mothers role but some have played with such conviction that they became stereotyped and did the off-repetitive mothers role in umpteen films yet it is tragic that the films buffs recognize them only by their ‘face’ and not by their ‘names’. Thus these actresses despite playing successful mother roles are ‘unsung’ or left unrecognized.
The actress who tops the list is Sulochana Latkar, famous as Sulochana, before Nirupa Roy, she was the epitome of Mother roles in Hindi films. In fact, she was a Marathi film lead actress but in the late 50’s she made a tryst with Bollywood doing strong character roles but her sterling role of a mother in Bimal Roy‘s Sujata (1959) and the sacrificing mother in Rajendra Kumar starrer Talash (1969) made her Bollywood’s popular mother figures. In fact, she became a permanent mother of 60’s superstar Sunil Dutt. She did many films like Ek Phool Char Kante, Meherbaan, Chirag, Bhai Bahen, Reshma Aur Shera, Umar Qaid, Muqabla, Jaani Dushman, Badle Ki Aag, etc. Similarly, in the ’70s, she did many roles of superstar Rajesh Khanna like Kati Patang, Mere Jeevan Saathi, Prem Nagar, Aakraman, Bhola Bhala, Tyaag, Aashiq Hoon Baharaon Ka etc. Likewise, she was the favourite mother of Dev Anand. The duo did many hit films like Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai, Pyar Mohabbat, Duniya, Johny Mera Naam, Amir Garib, Warrant, Joshila etc. Her other hit films are Aaye Din Bahar Ke, Ayee Milan Ki Bela, Majboor, Gora Aur Kala, Devar, Kahani Kismat Ki, Azaad etc.
Achala Sachdev, this actress can be recognized as the beautiful lady in the film Waqt (1965) where actor Balraj Sahni sings the song in her praise – Aye Mere Zohra Jabeen… or the present generation can identify her as Kajol‘s grandmother in Shah Rukh Khan‘s hit film Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995). She was a permanent fixture in Yash Raj Films Hamraaz (1967), Daag: A Poem of Love (1973), Chandni (1989). She did Raj Kapoor’s Sangam and Mera Naam Joker. She worked in Dev Anand‘s Navketan Banner in films like Prem Pujari, Hare Rama Hare Krishna, etc. She even did Merchant Ivory’s English film The Householder (1963). She played grandmother roles in Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003), Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001).
Dina Pathak is the real mother of two famous Bollywood actresses Supriya Pathak and Ratna Pathak. She was a veteran of Gujarati Theatre but won stardom as Amol Palekar‘s mother in the comedy film Gol Maal (1979) and Rekha‘s law-abiding strict mother-in-law in Khubsoorat (1980). Her other hit films are Sacha Jhutha, Koshish, Mausam, Chitchor, Dream Girl, Umrao Jaan, Thodisi Bewafai, Prem Rog, Aankhen, Arth, Yaraana, etc.
Leela Mishra, the cute old lady of Indian cinema and famous as Mausi in Amitabh Bachchan‘s hit film Sholay, worked in 300 films in a career spanning 50 years but alas she remained unsung. Though she played mother to Dilip Kumar in Ram Aur Shyam and did many films with Rajesh Khanna like Palkon Ki Chhaon Mein, Aanchal, Mehbooba, Amar Prem etc. yet she remained an unknown identity. But after Sholay, she became immortal. Her other hit films are Geet Gaata Chal (1975), Nadiya Ke Paar (1982), Baton Baton Mein (1979). She is perhaps the only actress to win an award at the age of 73 for her career’s best performance was in Naani Maa in 1981.