World Features

Mother’s Day Special: A List of Films That Celebrate Different Aspects and Choices of Motherhood

The second Sunday of May marks the occasion of Mother’s Day. While the day not only commemorates the role of a mother in a family, it also celebrates the likes of motherhood, maternal bonds, and their positions in society.


With that being said, the emotions and sentiments surrounding a mother figure has been widely explored in films, and has especially proven to be a successful factor in Indian cinema. From Rajinikanth’s Tamil song Amma Endru from Mannan (1992), where he tends to his differently-abled mother, to the legendary dialogue “Mere Paas Maa Hai” (I have mother with me) from the Hindi film Deewaar, mothers have played a significant role in establishing the strength of familial ties.

On that note, Silverscreen India compiles a list of films that explore different ideas of motherhood, maternal instincts, and the right to choose motherhood.

Achuvinte Amma (Malayalam)

This 2005 film revolves around the equation between a mother named Vanaja (Urvashi) and her daughter Achu (Meera Jasmine). The duo share a cordial, joyful, and affectionate bond until they take different stands with respect to the man that Achu is in love with. As Vanaja and Achu oppose each other, conflict raises when the latter is curious to know more about her father. Directed by Sathyan Anthikad, the film earned Urvashi a National Film Award and several state-level awards for itself.


Amma Nanna O Tamila Ammayi (Telugu)

This 2003 hit film, directed by Puri Jagannadh, follows the life of a kickboxing champion (Ravi Teja), who is raised by a single mother (Jayasudha). His life takes a steep turn after his beloved mother passes away. He then tracks down his father (Prakash Raj), who is also a kickboxing coach and stays with his other family. While Jayasudha’s character extends only until the first half, the film carries a sense of motherly sentiment throughout its runtime. The film was remade in Tamil as M Kumaran Son of Mahalakshmi (2004), with Nadhiya portraying the role of the mother. Her performance was widely appreciated and marked her comeback into cinema, after 10 years.


Anjali (Tamil)

Released in 1990, this classic Mani Ratnam film has easily been written off as a children’s film, owing to a large number of child artists, including the titular character. However, Anjali talks about a family of four (a couple and their two children) and the emotional journey that unfolds, after the mother learns that her third child Anjali, who she thought was a stillborn, is in fact alive but down with a mental disability. With actors Revathi and Raghuvaran portraying the parents and Shamili in the titular role, the film won three National Film Awards. Anjali features several emotional sequences, where Revathi tries to bond with her third child, while also trying not to upset her older children, who get jealous of Anjali over time. The film is available on ZEE5.


Bhoothakaalam (Malayalam)

This 2021 film might be categorised under the horror genre, where the house haunts its occupants. But the Revathi and Shane Nigam-starrer delves into a dysfunctional relationship between a mother-son duo and how they come to terms with their circumstances. Bhoothakaalam, which means ‘the past’ also discusses how family and dynamics of power, mental illness, and past traumas play out in a relationship as close as the one between a mother and her son. Directed by Rahul Sadasivan, he had earlier said to us that the film explores how the duo copes with certain situations, the change in power dynamics at home, and much more. The film is available on SonyLIV.


Chatrapathi (Telugu)

Directed by SS Rajamouli, Chatrapathi starring Prabhas, and Bhanupriya, was released in 2005. The film explores the life of a mother, who lives with her two sons, one of them being adopted, on the coast of Sri Lanka. Due to an unfortunate turn of events, the villagers are asked to evacuate the place. With this adding to the dislike of the real son towards the adopted son (Prabhas), the latter gets separated from his family. The rest of the film is looks into how the family reunites. A Hindi remake of the film is in the works, led by Bellamkonda Sai Sreenivas.


Dasharatham (Malayalam)

Not a lot of Indian films deal with the concept of surrogacy, but this 1989 film by AK Lohithadas touches upon the idea. Featuring Mohanlal as a rich, wasted man, he is suddenly consumed by the idea of having a child of his own, without wanting to undergo marriage. He then chooses the option of surrogacy, and goes on to find a woman, who is in need of money for her husband’s health expenses. Initially based on a transactional motive for monetary purposes only, the film follows the emotional attachment that the woman harbours towards the foetus. Dasharatham stars Rekha, KPAC Lalitha and Nedumudi Venu among others.


English Vinglish (Hindi)

Headlined by the late Sridevi, this Hindi film follows the life of Shashi, a housewife and small-business owner, who makes a living out of making savoury snacks and sweets. Often mocked by her family for her inability to converse properly in English, she makes a decision to enrol herself in English classes. Sridevi was heavily praised for her performance in the film. It is directed by Gauri Shinde, who noted that the film was inspired by her mother. It is available on Amazon Prime Video and ZEE5.


Kannathil Muthamittal (Tamil)

This 2002 Mani Ratnam directorial is another family drama revolving around a daughter. Adopted amid war-torn circumstances in Sri Lanka, Amudha (Keerthana) is unaware of her parental roots, until she finds out about it from her parents, who are raising her, played by Madhavan and Simran. While the daughter initially shows resentment after the reveal, she sets out with her parents, in order to meet her real mother, who is fighting the war in Sri Lanka. The film captures the emotions of the adopted daughter and how she reaffirms her love towards both her mothers. The song, Oru Deivam Thandha Poove, sung by Chinmayi, is considered a melody that talks about a child’s bond with their parents.  The film is available on Netflix.


The Lost Daughter (English)

An Oscar-nominated film, this 2021 psychological drama stars Olivia Colman, and Dakota Johnson. It revolves around a woman’s quiet seaside vacation, which takes an emotional turn after she comes across a young mother who is also staying at a villa, nearby. The film deals with the emotional aspects of motherhood at youth, helmed by Maggie Gyllenhaal, in her directorial debut. It is based on the 2006 novel of the same name by Elena Ferrante. The film is available on Netflix.


Nil Battey Sannata (Hindi)

In this film, Swara Bhaskar plays a single mother Chanda, who is working as a domestic help and does everything she can to educate her teen daughter. While the daughter does not show interest toward her studies and makes up her mind to be a domestic help like her mother, it devastates Chanda. As the mother is unavailable to tutor her daughter, she enrols herself in her daughter’s class, much to the chagrin of the latter. The film shows the struggles of Chanda to ensure that her daughter is educationally qualified to reach a good and respectable position in her life. The film was remade in Tamil as Amma Kanakku, and Udaharanam Sujatha in Malayalam. The film is available on Amazon Prime Video and ZEE5.


Raam (Tamil)

Written and directed by Ameer, Raam is a 2005 film that stars Jiiva and Saranya Ponvannan as a mother-son duo. While Saranya is often seen as the sweet, affectionate mother in Tamil cinema, in Raam, she plays the mother of an autistic child named Ram. A young, quickly-provoked man, who is extremely attached to his mother, Ram is the primary suspect when the latter is found murdered. The rest of the film follows the efforts of the son and the police to find the real murderer. The song, Aarariraro, voiced by Yesudas, is a memorable song that shows the bond between a mother and her child.


Sara’s (Malayalam)

Not all films surround women and their offspring. This 2021 film starring Anna Ben and Sunny Wayne talks about a choice of motherhood that a woman gets to make. Anna plays the titular character of a woman in her 20s, who aspires to be a filmmaker and has no inclination to be a mother. While her partner (Wayne) also shares the same vision, the challenges that get thrown at Sara is what the film explores. Directed by Jude Anthany Joseph, who had earlier said to us that Sara’s looks into the idea of freedom for women and their right to make choices, and Anna Ben’s character is inspired by a scene from one of his previous films, Ohm Shanthi Oshaana. The film is available on Amazon Prime Video.


Tribhanga (Hindi)

While films may often paint rose-tinted imagery of familial bonds, this Hindi film starring Kajol, Tanvi Azmi and Mithila Palkar delves into the dynamics within a dysfunctional family set-up. When her estranged mother slips into a coma, Anuradha (Kajol) – a single mother – has to grapple with feelings of regret and resentment, while reflecting on their strained relationship. While Azmi plays the grandmother, Palkar plays the granddaughter. Tribhanga is one of the few films that revolve primarily around women. Directed by Renuka Shahane, the film explores motherhood, the pressures of a patriarchal society, and what it does for women who want to be more than just a mother. Tribhanga is available on Netflix.