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The Bollywood film industry lost another unmatched talent – Ava Mukherjee. She passed away in Mumbai on Monday, 15 January 2018. She was eighty-eight. The veteran actress was known for her role as a doting grandmother in numerous advertisements, TV serials and films.
It was in the year 1996, she ventured into acting with the Bengali movie Ram Dhakka directed by Taru Mukherjee. Given her graceful and loving nature, the film industry in the 70’s preferred choosing her for roles as a grandmother. The best known movies of her as a doting grandmother were Devdas (2002), Darna Zaroori Hain (2006), Detective Naani (2009) and The Firm Land (2009). Detective Naani was directed by her daughter Romilla Mukherjee where she played the role of Usha Dutt, who with her private investigating skills busts a surreptitious trafficking racket. The Himalayan Drug Company endorsed her for their commercials and she remained the brand ambassador since 1999. To perform in advertising endorsements isn’t an easy task as one needs to convey to the audience the idea within just a couple of seconds or minutes. She was given a herculean target and she proved to be a true ‘Himalayan Dadima’ by her acting in that commercial. She once said, which The Hindu mentions: “There are times when you have to model for products you don’t like. At such times, you go on a guilt trip. My experience with Himalaya has been very different. I can vouch for its efficacy. I have been using their herbal products even before I became their brand ambassador.”
She is also known for her versatility: she’s been a copywriter and also an off – and – on author and also a translator. We can consider her a true icon for women where we have witnessed her giving away her own awards to ‘Unusual Grandmothers’ at a Grandmothers’ conference held in Bangalore couple of years back. Further states The Hindu: “There was this woman who was a bartanwali. When her neighbour passed away, she began to look after his orphaned children and educated them. Now the children have grown up. They have written articles about the woman who became their grandmother.”
As I said earlier given to her adorable, caring nature she was a true gandmommy to several children all over the country. Children ran to her and called her ‘Dadima’ and she loved it. In real life, she did not have any grandchildren. Her role as an affectionate grandma was in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s movie Devdas. With binoculars clasped in her hands, she used to lintel in joy the moment she noticed Devdas, played by Shahrukh Khan, and Paro, played by Aishwarya Rai, together. It was also shown in the movie she was the one who truly loved Devdas even more than his own mother as explained in the novel and she was devastated when Paro was married off to someone else and not her grandson.
She was a complete woman, simple and not at all flashy and someone who always had a trademark smile on her lips. Given the fact that the industry runs after flashy faces, not much is known about her parents and her children. As per the sources she has a daughter named Romilla Mukherjee and was the Mother – in – law to Jolly Mukherjee.
The film industry grieved at her loss. As I write a short tribute to her I would like to conclude this essay by saying stay happy wherever you are our true grandma, not only on screen but in real life to all of us.
Also a message to society that we women can be loving and doting but if need arises we can shed our loving nature and can hit back to the patriarchy when they try to come in the way of our goals. Times have changed, Avaji is no more but she leaves her legacy in us women who can be loving but equally fearless when someone tries to outrage our modesty which may be domestic or emotional. Since abuse is not specified, it comes in several forms and we women are ready to fight it out and we refuse to give in to it.
Avaji, we see you as a true feminist icon.
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