Bollywood has had many iconic on-screen mothers – from Nirupa Roy, Durga Khote, Dina Pathak, and Lalita Pawar, to the more new-age moms Farida Jalal, Aruna Irani, Kirron Kher and Rakhee. But there was something about Reema Lagoo’s kind face that made her truly versatile, even within the established stereotype. She was Bollywood’s first cool mom. She played the ideal, supportive and kindhearted mother to Salman, Shah Rukh Khan and several other A-listers in numerous B-town family flicks. But she also took on some unconventional and uncomfortable grey shades in her film and television portrayals.
Her sudden demise has left the film and TV industry in shock. The veteran actress is surely impossible to replace on-screen, especially for Salman Khan’s Prem.
The Best Mom Ever
A mother’s heart knows everything her child needs and Reema Lagoo aced that expression like no one else. In Kal Ho Na Ho, she played the ever supportive mother to a terminally ill son played by Shah Rukh Khan, but in Yess Boss, it was the other way around.
The Naive One
Reema Lagoo was to Salman Khan what Nirupa Roy was to Amitabh Bachchan. Nothing defines sanskari Prem better than his ideal on-screen mother. Ever since his Maine Pyar Kiya days till Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Salman has shared a special connection with the late actress, either as her son or an agyakaari son-in-law. In fact, in Sooraj Barjatya’s Hum Saath Saath Hain, it’s Reema Lagoo’s character that brings the much needed twist in the tale. She’s so blind in her love for her children, and naive at the same time, that she gets manipulated into siding with her favourite son, eventually driving him away for that very reason.
Reema Lagoo’s latest TV stint was Naamkaran, a show that takes Mahesh Bhatt’s Zakhm storyline forward. With all her ‘ideal mother’ portrayals behind her, Bhatt trusted her with playing the lead character Dayawanti, who would go to any extreme to keep her son Ashish from marrying Asha, a woman he loves and has an illegitimate child with.
She’s a vicious, scheming and controlling matriarch, a character she’s rarely embodied before. But she carries off streaks of grey with elan. Remember her as the loving mother in the Sanjay Dutt starrer Vaastav? She does everything in her power to protect her outlaw of a son. She even kills him, when he asks her to.
Sanskari But Strong
Reema Lagoo is the female version of Alok Nath as far as our filmi sanskars go. She’s the demure mother to Renuka Shahane and Madhuri Dixit in Hum Aapke Hain Koun, the babaji fearing mom to Kajol in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and the subservient Rajput wife in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak. But hidden underneath her demure characters, was a strong woman.
She was brilliant in that scene with Kajol in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, when she realises that her daughter is not in love with the man she’s about to marry. Instead of giving her grief about it, she tells her to never settle for something her heart doesn’t agree with. And despite the shadow of the stereotype that followed her everywhere, she was also seen as the ‘cool mom’ of the 90s, that all kids wanted to have.
Reema Lagoo was immensely funny even in her ‘homemaker’ avatar in superhit comedy TV shows like Shrimaan Shrimati and Tu Tu Main Main, from the 90s. Her comic timing was as effortless as her intense maa and sasu maa roles.
In fact, she didn’t lose her comic touch right till the very end. This Facebook Pe Mummy video with Aditi Mittal was pretty epic too and Reema Lagoo was the perfect choice for it.
Sadly, despite her huge body of work and decades in the Hindi and Marathi film industries, Reema Lagoo never once won an award, even in the Best Supoorting Actress category, at any of the filmi award nights. She did win the title of Best Actress in a Comic Role at the Indian Telly Awards for Tu Tu Main Main in 2002. It’s a regret Bollywood will have to live with, like many others.
Here’s raising a toast in memory of a character actor, who not only created the persona of the ideal mother, but also the ideal son in Bollywood.