Jun 18 2016

What Maa can do, Beti can do, too

by   Sonal Pandya

On Naseem Banu's death anniversary, we look at some mother-daughter sets that lit up Hindi cinema with their talent and beauty.

1 Jaddanbai and Nargis

A pioneer in the early days of cinema in India, Jaddanbai was a woman of exceptional talent. A lone woman in an industry mostly populated by men, she composed, wrote, produced and directed her own films. Jaddanbai groomed her youngest child, Nargis, for a career in films since the age of six. Nargis blossomed from a child artiste to become what author Meghnad Desai has called ‘the first global Hindi film actress’.

2 Naseem Banu and Saira Banu

Naseem Banu was referred to as ‘pari chehra’ in the marketing materials of her films. The incomparable beauty was launched in Sohrab Modi’s Khoon Ka Khoon (1935), the Indian version of Hamlet. Twenty-six years later, her daughter Saira Banu made her debut opposite Shammi Kapoor in Subodh Mukherjee’s Junglee (1961). The publicity campaign for the newcomer unveiled her face with a ghoonghat, bit by bit, until the release of the film.

3 Shobhana Samarth and Nutan, Tanuja

A star of the nascent Marathi talkies, Shobhana Samarth began her career in Hindi cinema with Nigahen Nafrat (1935). She and her co-star Prem Adib were most remembered for their portrayal of Seeta and Ram. Shobhana Samarth produced and directed two feature films in her lifetime, Hamari Beti (1950) and Chhabili (1960), which showcased her daughters, Nutan and Tanuja, respectively. Both followed their mother into stardom.

4 Tanuja and Kajol

Shobhana Samarth’s younger daughter Tanuja made her debut as lead actress in 1961, the same year as Saira Banu, with Hamari Yaad Aayegi. Her natural ebullience rubbed off on the characters she played, making her a favourite with co-stars and with fans. Her daughter Kajol inherited the same natural talent and energy and went on to surpass her mother’s popularity. They shared the screen as mother and daughter in Bekhudi (1992), Kajol's debut, and Toonpur Ka Super Hero (2010).

5 Jayshree and Rajshree Shantaram

Both Jayshree and Rajshree had short careers in cinema. Rajshree appeared in films quite early in life, first as a baby with her mother in Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani (1946), directed by her father, V Shantaram, who also played the lead role of Dr Dwarkanath Kotnis, and as a child artiste in Subah Ka Tara (1954). She was credited as Baby Rajshree and played the child of a young widow, played by Jayshree. While Jayshree largely worked in Shantaram’s projects, Rajshree ventured out of her father's Rajkamal Kalamandir banner and starred in hits like Janwar (1965) and Brahmachari (1968) before getting married and migrating to the USA.

6 Aparna Sen and Konkona Sen Sharma

Aparna Sen was initiated into films by Satyajit Ray with Teen Kanya (1961). As an acclaimed star of the Bengali screen, she enjoyed much success but has been drawn to filmmaking since the 1980s. Some of her films, Mr and Mrs Iyer (2001) and 15 Park Avenue (2005), have featured her talented daughter Konkona Sen Sharma. A National award-winner like her mother, Sen Sharma divides her time between Hindi and Bengali cinema. Her directorial debut, A Death In The Gunj, is awaiting release.

7 Hema Malini and Esha Deol

The original ‘Dream Girl’ of Hindi cinema, Hema Malini rose to stardom with Andaz (1971) and Seeta Aur Geeta (1972). She worked steadily through the 1970s and 1980s, usually with husband Dharmendra. She turned director with Dil Aashna Hai (1992) which starred Shah Rukh Khan and Divya Bharti. Esha Deol made her debut with the forgettable Koi Mere Dil Se Poochhe (2002); her last big film was Tell Me O Kkhuda (2011) in which she was directed by her mother. While Hema Malini is an accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer, Esha and her younger sister Ahana both took up Odissi.

8 Sharmila Tagore and Soha Ali Khan

Another actress who started out in a Satyajit Ray film was Sharmila Tagore. Like Aparna Sen, she was a young character in a Ray production, but unlike Sen, she mostly worked in Hindi cinema with standout roles in Aradhana (1969), Mausam (1975) and Chupke Chupke (1975). Soha Ali Khan, her daughter with husband Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, made her Hindi film debut with Dil Maange More (2004). They appeared as mother and daughter in the English film Life Goes On (2009), an adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear.

9 Babita and Karisma, Kareena

Babita acted in Hindi films for less than a decade before marrying actor and co-star in many films Randhir Kapoor. But she is still remembered for her memorable performances in Farz (1967), Kismat (1968), and Kal Aaj Aur Kal (1971). Babita's older daughter Karisma was the first grandchild of Raj Kapoor to join films; they both had a hit Haseena Maan Jayegi in their careers – albeit 31 years apart. Younger daughter Kareena made her debut with JP Dutta’s Refugee (2000) opposite Abhishek Bachchan. Both Karisma and Kareena are the only sisters to win the Filmfare award for Best Actress.

10 Dimple Kapadia and Twinkle Khanna, Rinke Khanna

With a blazing debut at 16 in Raj Kapoor’s Bobby (1973), Dimple Kapadia quickly retired from films after her marriage to reigning superstar Rajesh Khanna. She returned in 1984 with a spate of films and a super-hit with her Bobby co-star Rishi Kapoor, Saagar (1985). Kapadia has had a longer career in films than her daughters, Twinkle and Rinke, who made their debuts with Barsaat (1995) and Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi (1999), respectively. Rinke went away from films in 2003, while her sister gave up acting in 2001 after marriage to star Akshay Kumar. These days, Twinkle Khanna writes a column for a national newspaper and tweets bon mots as ‘Mrs Funnybones’.