Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

Mothers play an incredibly significant role in almost every living being's life. They offer guidance, love, and support and help to grow. Their absence can indeed leave a profound void. Mother's Day is a beautiful opportunity to express gratitude and love for the incredible women who have nurtured and supported us throughout our lives. It's a day to celebrate the selflessness, strength, and unconditional love of mothers everywhere. 

Just like in real life, reel life is incomplete without their contributions. Onscreen mothers play a pivotal role in storytelling, often embodying a spectrum of virtues and complexities. Reflecting the complexities and joys of real-life motherhood. Onscreen mothers remind us of the power of love, sacrifice, and resilience in shaping the lives of their onscreen families.

Iconic mothers in Bollywood

In Bollywood, mothers are often depicted as self-sacrificing, nurturing figures who prioritise their children's well-being above all else. They are typically shown as the emotional backbone of the family, offering unconditional love and support.

Be it Shabana Azmi, Reena Roy, Jaya Bachchan, Hema Malini, Farida Jalal, Reema Lagoo, Rakhee Gulzar, Ratna Pathak or Kiron Kher, these veteran actresses have portrayed onscreen mother characters in several movies with depth and authenticity. 

However, before that Nirupa Roy, contributed to the rich tapestry of motherly portrayals in Bollywood, leaving an indelible mark in the industry with her stellar performances. Nirupa Roy is often hailed as the quintessential mother figure in Bollywood.

Movie lovers certainly remember the iconic scene from 1975's Deewar when Shashi Kapoor (Ravi) confronts Amitabh Bachchan (Vijay). 

Vijay: Aaj mere pass building hai, property hai, bank balance hai, bangla hai, gaadi hai, kya hai kya tumhare pass?

Ravi: Mere pass Maa hai.

This iconic dialogue that gave Bollywood mothers a milestone still reverberates and remains fresh in everyone’s mind  even today.

But, did you know, that Nirupa Roy was the first actor to don the Superhero Cape in Bollywood and became the first 'Superhero' before Dharmendra, Puneet Issar, Hrithik Roshan or Tiger Shroff?

Nirupa Roy: The first female Superman of Bollywood

Yes, Nirupa Roy was the first woman in Indian cinema to essay the role of a superhero in a Hindi film in 1960. In and as Superman, she appeared in the action-adventure flick helmed by Anant Thakur and Mohammed Hussain. The movie also starred Helen, Jayaraj, and Tuntun. In the movie, Nirupa Roy's character wears a Phantom-like mask and is accompanied by a super-dog and super-horse. With this film, she earned the title of being the first female Superman of Bollywood.

Superman's Plot

The storyline of Superman centres around Shanti, who is adopted by a scientist whose daughter was killed by a bandit. The old scientist finds a serum that grants superpowers and immortality. The serum could make a person fly and make him/her indestructible. Following the serum injection, Shanti (Nirupa Roy) becomes a superhero and saves her city from Bandit Mangu.

Interesting anecdote

While Superman was in production, Manmohan films began making another film with the same title Superman. Following that Mukul Pictures issued a public notice stating, "The titles Superman, Mr Superman and Shri Superman stand duly registered in our name..."

Manmohan films ultimately changed the movie title to 'The Return of Mr Superman' featuring Jairaj and Sheila Ramani. The movie was released the same year in 1960. Later, the title was used for V. Madhusudhan Rao's 1980 Telugu flick starring NT Rama Rao in the titular role and B Gupta's Hindi film featuring Puneet Issar as Superman.

Nirupa Roy: Bollywood's quintessential mother

Be it Deewar, Mard, Amar Akbar Anthony, or Laal Badshah, the legendary actress made every moviegoer emotional with her character portrayal. She made her debut in 1946 with Ranakdevi. Apart from playing the female lead in her initial days, she stepped up to play Mother's character in 1955. Though she was eight years younger than Dev Anand, she flawlessly played his mother's character in Munimji. Interestingly, she is the only actress who played the role of Dharmendra and his son Sunny Deol. She also essayed the roles of several Hindu goddesses in movies and people lined up to seek her blessings. 

Throughout her career spanning over six decades, she worked in over 250 movies and she clinched three Filmfare awards. For her unmatched contribution to Indian cinema, she was conferred with the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement award in 2004. On 13 October 2004, she suffered a cardiac arrest in Mumbai and died at the age of 73.