Monday, April 25, 2011

'Mummy Jee' Wanted

There was a time when most of the Indian actresses had a permanent fixture in their entourage - the overbearing, ever-insistent and extremely strong headed 'Mummy Jee'. Nobody liked them but they had to go through these influential mothers to even get to say hello to their beautiful daughters. The pretty young things wanted them around to shield their pretty selves from the domineering costars and colourful producers.

"Baby ke liye juice laao" (get a glass of fruit juice for baby) is a phrase that should have a copyright. The copyright-holder is bound to earn millions owing to its overuse.

Baby's (in these cases they could range from fourteen to forty year old actresses) job was to look pretty, do as the director told and get back into the safety of their vanity vans. Mummy Jee would do the rest. From scheduling dates to fees negotiations with the Producers to the contents of the 'straight from the heart' interviews with gossip magazines. They did it all. They even kept an eye on what their superstar daughters ate, whom they met or even fell in love with. Expert puppeteers of the real kind. They pulled strings that moved the whole filmdom. Their single minded pursuit was to secure the stardom, both for their little ones and themselves, for as long as they could hold on. They had seen the arc lights too in the prime of their life. They knew the game way too well to let it get the better of them.

All Divas were chaperoned by a Super Diva Mummy Jee.

Something happened in the nineties. Liberalisation hit India with a stone mace on the head. It flattened the whole landscape. The uneven highs and lows started to vanish. So did the Mummy Jee's.

One by one the actresses started doing away with them. Some who were already big names didn't need them. Those who were getting famous wanted to do what the superstars did, not what interfering mothers told them to. Follwing success was easier than paving their own way. And young starlets had no choice but to do away with the extra baggage as fierce competition poured in from all nooks and corners of the country.

Now there was nobody to tell them 'do this and don't do that'. Everyone followed their heart. Parallel cinema, cross over cinema, potty cinema, lower than low budget cinema, hidden camera cinema, dogma films, films only for the festival circuits, films that will never see the light of the day, films that cleverly escaped the 'A' certificates...a whole lot of genres emerged.

The canvas grew wider.
The players came from far and wide.
No one was to say what is right and what is wrong.
It was a free for all. Everyone got their two hours of fame.

One films. Two films. Three films. Four films. Then most of them fizzled out. Some got married. Some turned producers. Some took refuge in reality shows. Quite unlike the leading ladies of yesteryears who, once they made their debut, stuck around for a long time to come. Well most of them!

Those who chose to listen to the Mummy Jee or had father figures stayed. Others simply phased out.

There was no one to push them.
No one to pull strings for them when they were down.
No one to tell them - this is the way the game is played.

"Lambi race ka ghoda", remained a phrase only for the Long-race horses.

We have done away with the Mummy Jee's coz they told us what to do, were over bearing and highly ambitious for self and their offsprings. With that we have done away with age-old wisdom that comes with experience, a protective shield, a sunscreen that kept you from getting scorched everytime the sun got stronger.

We have traded 'slowly getting wiser' for 'suddenly getting stronger'. So is it with others too. Writers, painters, marketeers, inventors, politicians.Vision and energy of youth has a great potential but to do away with the safeguarding experience of the old will mean re-inventing the wheel when one should be focusing on  the next step up.

Wish we all had them. Anybody you look upto can be the 'Mummy Jee' of you life. Someone who doesn't mind calling a spade a spade coz they have our best interest at heart. I know they make our lives hell when we have differences but at least they tell us where we are going wrong.

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