Is The New Age Indian Mother In law Still A Villainous Archetype?

Posted: February 25, 2017

Indian cinema has portrayed a stereotypical image of the Indian mother in law. A dour faced, cock-eyed banshee. Is it so even today?

The Indian mother in law was always shown as a vicious termagant, conspiring and conniving  and creating a rift among couples. The daughter in law was showered with aspersions regarding her upbringing or household chores, while the son was a mere spectator and a mute testimony to her evil designs.

Patriarchy had created problems in our society. Girls were uneducated, confined to the four walls of their house, home and hearth was their only source of entertainment. From their parental house to their marital house was their only life. Their prosaic existence created frustration and this was vented on the daughters in law. This went on for ages and the daughters in law bore this torment without retaliating.

But the eighties saw a paradigm shift in the thinking of people. Girls were given good education, they started having careers and procured good jobs. The mindset of the people took a new turn. Indian cinema too was instrumental in changing the perspective of people, by portraying liberal, glamorous mothers in law, who had a better equation with their daughters in law.

Today the mother in law has developed a swagger, and is on equal footing with her daughter in law.

Education and jobs have brought a great change. The Indian mother in law is well groomed, well toned, smart, confident, pleasant to talk to. Armed with diverse knowledge, she carries herself with poise, goes to salons and spas, reunions, pizzerias, parties, religious discourses, et al. Being tech savvy is the order of the day and in fact she shares an easy camaraderie with her daughter in law.

The villainous streak has been replaced by a liberal mind set. They don’t want to hang up their boots till the end.

They can be summed up in the lines of Robert Frost-

The woods are lovely, dark and deep
But I have miles to go, before I sleep!

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