When Ratna Pathak Shah said mother Dina Pathak ‘was trapped in the white sari and expression number 65 for 30-40 years’


Veteran actor Dina Pathak may be remembered as a screen mother but she stood apart from the forever sorrowful, white sari clad maa that was brought to life by actors such as Nirupa Roy and Sulochana. On Pathak’s 100th birth anniversary, we remember the actor who created a different sort of mother in 70s and 80s cinema, who could as easily comfort you as tease you in good humour. However, with a dearth of roles for a senior female actor in those days, her talent remained underutilised. This is something that her daughters, actors Ratna Pathak Shah and Supriya Pathak, also believe.

In a conversation with indianexpress.com, Supriya Pathak recalled how the whole film industry referred to Dina Pathak as ‘maa, mata ji or mummy’ because she was back-to-back playing a mother on screen in different films.

“When we were growing up, my mother (Dina Pathak) was playing all the mother roles that were there in the industry. Ratna and I used to laugh about it and feel that we have so many brothers and sisters because my mother is a mother to everybody. Everyone, including all the actors, would call my mother ‘Mata ji, Mumma, Mom or Maa.’ So, I and Ratna would always feel that we have a big family,” Supriya expressed. However, her kids had different reaction when she herself started playing a mother on-screen.

“When I started taking up mother roles (in films), I used to feel my kids would feel the same way. But they didn’t. They were very definite that ‘you are my mom. Let’s not confuse that matter,’” Supriya chuckled.

Ratna Pathak Shah, on the other hand, said that whenever she thinks of her mother Dina Pathak’s Hindi film career, she feels sad.

The actor, who admits of falling in love with the craft of acting at the age of 12 because of her mother’s portrayal of Kaali in the theater production of Karnad’s Hayavardhan, said that the audience never got the chance to see her mother’s true magic on the silver screen as “films never gave her a chance to do any of that.”

dina pathak in khubsoorat A still from Khubsoorat. (Phot: Express Archive)

“She just had three and a half expressions that she trotted out. In fact, Supriya and I used to often laugh, ‘Oh, there’s Maa doing expression number 65, I am sure it would be followed by expression number 33 very soon.’ It was like that, poor thing,” the actor told PTI in an interview.

“I really wish Maa had been around today because she was meant for this kind of work. She was meant to be out of the box. But she was trapped in the white sari and expression number 65 for 30-40 years. My heart goes out to her even just thinking of the boredom that she had to face or so many other actors like her,” she added.

dina pathak photos AK Hangal, Amol Palekar and Zarina Wahab with Dina Pathak. (Photo: Express Archive)

Dina Pathak, who passed away in 2002, is remembered for her roles in the Hindi films such as Gol Maal, Khubsoorat, Koshish, Umrao Jaan, Mirch Masala and Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho! among others.

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