Richa Chadda as Nagma Khatoon in Gangs of Wasseypur II (2012)
Smita Patil as Aarti in Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki (1984)
I think, in our arsenal of tropes for the female presences found in films, we forget to include the way motherhood has been presented cinematically in ways that neither cater to the “Kamini Kaushal/Nirupa Roy” type nor to the “Lalita Pawar/Radhika Rani” way. The first, for those not familiar with Hindi cinema, represents the good, god-fearing, selfless mother while the second represents the greedy, class-sustaining, dominating mother. And you know, I’ve always found the distinction between the two to lie in the fact that, yes, they both love their children, but the former is a mother to everyone while the latter refuses to be a mother to anyone not of her own blood. Furthermore, in their relationships with their male counterparts, the former obviously is quite comfortable in the role of a submissive wife and a submissive (but ~lovingly submissive~) mother. The latter is seen as being dominating of her husband (and only a good “loving” slap from the old man will apparently fix her character) and only superficially dominating of her children who are men (because in the end, her intense, prideful, jealous love is the metaphorical noose for her individualism).
And you know, we have special mentions of other types that fit between those ends! Some are good and some are bad and some are interesting. In Mother India of course, we find the morally righteous figure of a mother and there are so many interpretations of her actions to the point where she’s less of an actual mother and more of a symbol for nation building.
But anyway, I’m coming back to the type of mother-trope thats rlly not yet become common enough to be an actual trope: the anti-mother. I think it’s been defined before, but perhaps never in the context of particular Hindi film genres, in a culture that elevates motherhood to a specific degree of degradation and moralistic manipulation and then of course, boxes it with the stipulations of the upper-caste and class Hindu patriarchy. The anti-mother uses maternal power for a goal, maybe not a material goal, but a goal nonetheless, and their entire role as a mother-figure is basically set on the completion of said goal. The anti-mother thus is the antithesis of a mother because they have no traditional and therefore real maternal feelings. Even the “Lalita Pawar” types still value and uphold motherhood in the way we’ve traditionally held it. The anti-mother grants birth to their child and then uses that child as a weapon, a way to get what they’ve always initially wanted. The most succinct example of this is contained within the melodramatic frames of Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki, I mean, it’s indicated right in the title—“The Vow of the One who has borne”.