It was during the 90s where Hindi cinema experienced a transition with chocolate heroes swearing by mushy love and the angry young (men) gracefully bowed out. In Hindi cinema, Mom and sons have always forged a bond. Reema Lagoo was not to be left behind. She took over the reins from the likes of Nirupa Roy, Lalita Pawar, and Rohini Hattangadi and redefined Mummy cool who doesn’t throw her sons or daughters out but became a friend and confident. In that way, she became part of the changing waves of cinema post-globalization and the political stratum where Manmohan Singh as Finance Minister opened the Indian economy that made it legitimate to nurture aspirations for the goodies. As it is, cinema is often a mirror image of our lives.
Today, we received a rude shock on hearing the sudden passing away of this iconic Mom to Salman Khan in Maine Pyar Kiya and Saajan, Shah Rukh Khan in Kal Ho Na Ho or Kajol in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Juhi Chawla in Qayamat se Qayamat Tak. Reema Lagoo exuded a screen presence that made her endearing and relatable while at the same time, gently reminding us that Maa doesn’t need to stand with a stick to whack but be the best friend to her children. She became iconic in her rich portrayal of mother’s role and the calm demeanor and gaze won our hearts. Reema Lagoo was effortless in her tender touch and the divine like smile was enough to warm us to her screen presence.
How can we forget the iconic Shanta to an equally fearful Raghu in Vastav, the mother who bore the pain but doesn’t flinch in killing her Gangster son, one of the most brilliant performances put by Sanjay Dutt? Both Shanta and Raghu were iconic in their own ways. I strongly believe that Mahesh Manjrekar is one of the most intelligent and prolific directors in the late 90s who flawless captured this scene that translated into pain, agony, and love at the same time. There are so many memorable moments captured in Vastav that gave shade and shape, the aesthetic frame that redefined the equation between mother and son.
Reema Lagoo had another side to her where she effortlessly slipped into comic roles on the small screen, essaying the Saasu Maa in Tu Tu Mein Mein. Even her slightly negative and portrayal of gray was not met with hatred when she gave a new shade to Kaikeyi in Sooraj Barjatya’s modern Ramayana version in Hum Saath Saath Hai.
There wasn’t a medium where Reema Lagoo wasn’t successful, be it theater, Marathi or Hindi soap operas and films such as Khandaan, Shriman Srimathi, Tuza Maza Jamena, Anumati or Casting Couch. She played cool mother to the cool Urmila in RGV’s Rangeela and became an important part of cinema that ushered into change way back into the 90s. The audience looked at cinema and mother’s roles in a fresh manner which redefined the old age Moms that carried an emotional quotient. A brilliant actor who could slip in any genre and sad that during those days, leading roles were not written with someone like Reema Lagoo in mind that could fetch her several awards as the lead. Had it been the present times with meaningful cinema, web cinema, and multiplex audiences, Lagoo would have been the leading lady who called the shots.
With her passing away, Reema Lagoo leaves a rich legacy of what became Hindi cinema’s favorite Maa on-screen. She became a memorable part of my growing up years during the 90s, where many of us love to love cool Moms and warming to that quality in our mothers. At the time, we speak of new age Moms, think again, Reema aunty has been there before. We shall remember you fondly as you take away your fair share of the pie which sadly reminds this generation that its much-adored 90s is slipping away. An elixir perhaps.
We shall remember you always super-duper cool Mom, Reema Lagoo-ji