It was Mothers’ Day, and brand and production houses went berserk with that concept. In the week preceding Mothers’ Day, we had a number of short films showing a mother’s relationship with their children, some even had a woman taking on the role of a mother for people who require a mother.
That had us thinking, where does the mother disappear after Mothers’ Day? Why do Indian short filmmakers not have more web series/short films that have mothers as the main protagonists. Since time immemorial, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters have been the side-story in Indian films, and that’s ringing true in even the digital space. Even in the most progressive of web series, the mother is relegated to a story arc.
Very few web series has the guts to make a woman, who is a mother, the main character in their short film. Even in the Mothers’ Day films, it is the relation with the son or the daughter that’s the hero of the film – not the mother herself. We have a web series that’s handling the ultra-debatable concept of women in the army – but nobody’s still taken to women as mothers in the central character. So, web filmmakers are cool with a woman holding Army standard issue machine guns to mow down enemies, but gets all queasy thinking of their central character changing her child’s diaper on-screen.
In this context, it looks shallow when filmmakers clamour over each other to get their ‘Mothers Day Video’ the most number of Facebook views and retweets, wanting to create a social uproar – the right kind of it.
There is this question of whether the Indian web series will ever reach the level of the American web series. That’s a bridge that no amount of money or enhanced production values will ever be able to fill up. Take a look at this, The Good Wife, one of the best series on Netflix, has a mother/wife/daughter/lawyer/lover as the central character. That series was such a success that it has its own spinoff. Breaking Bad also had the mother play a central character in the story arc. That’s sorely missing in the Indian webseries.
People consider web series to be the next big thing, the thing that will change the way we consume entertainment. Indian television is still a sleeping behemoth that doesn’t care what it spews out – as long as it gets its TRPs.
In the 90s, when the TV was actually quite progressive, we had series like Neena Gupta’s Saansein and Hasratein, where mothers and motherhood were the central aspect. That time has long gone.
When it comes to films, only now are we taking mothers as central characters. Sridevi’s ‘English Vinglish’ and Aishwarya Rai’s ‘Jazbaa’ was a good start, Raveena Tandon gave an interesting but middling ‘Maatr’. All eyes are now on Sridevi’s ‘Mom’, which looks promising.
Speaking of the sheer non-inclusion of mothers as protagonists in web series, there was this thought about heroines in Bollywood – once they got married, they’d never be accepted by an audience. Of course, millennials will cry ‘archaic’ even as a journalist tells them this, but where’s your ‘super-mother-character’ in webseries, yo?