When Ratna Pathak Shah said her mother Dina Pathak “was trapped in the white saree and the number 65 expression for 30 to 40 years”

Veteran actress Dina Pathak may be remembered as an on-screen mother, but she stands apart from the ever sad white sari-clad maa who was brought to life by actors such as Nirupa Roy and Sulochana. On Pathak’s 100th birthday, the actor is remembered for creating a different kind of mother in ’70s and ’80s cinema, who could comfort you as well as tease you in a good mood. However, with a dearth of roles for a senior actress at this time, her talent remained underutilized. It’s something that her daughters, actresses Ratna Pathak Shah and Supriya Pathak, also believe.

In a chat with indianexpress.com, Supriya Pathak recalled how the entire film industry called Dina Pathak “maa, mata ji or mama” because she played an on-screen mother back to back in different movies.

“When we were growing up, my mom (Dina Pathak) played every mother role that existed in the industry. Ratna and I used to laugh about it and think we had so many siblings because my mom is a mother to everyone. Everyone, including all the actors, called my mother ‘Mata ji, Mumma, Mom or Maa.’ So me and Ratna would always feel like we have one big family,” Supriya said, however, her kids had a different reaction when she started playing an on-screen mother herself.



“When I started taking on mother roles (in movies), I felt like my kids would feel the same way. But they didn’t. They were very clear that ” you are my mother. Let’s not confuse this issue,” chuckled Supriya.

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 actress, who admits to falling in love with acting aged 12 because of her mother’s portrayal of Kaali in Hayavardhan’s theater production of Karnad, said audiences never had the chance to see his mother’s real magic on the big screen because “the movies never gave her the chance to do any of that.”


dina pathak in khubsoorat A photo of Khubsoorat. (Photo: Express Archive)

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

“I really wish Maa was here today because she was meant for this kind of work. She was supposed to think outside the box. But she was trapped in the white saree and number 65 expression for 30 at 40. My heart goes out to her just thinking about the boredom she’s had to go through 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 died in 2002, is known for her roles in Hindi films such as Gol Maal, Khubsoorat, Koshish, Umrao Jaan, Mirch Masala and Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho! among others.

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