Until recently, mother roles in Telugu cinema were the exclusive fiefdom of actresses past their prime, and willing to sport a few streaks of grey, heavy saris, oversized glasses and bindis. That's no longer the case as a slew of leading ladies are breaking stereotypes and playing mothers. Samantha and Shriya did that in Manam; Nithya Menen, Regina Cassandra and Lakshmi Manchu are following suit, ushering in a new era of moms clad in chic saris, designer salwars, etc.
Actresses these days are no longer content playing the typical glam doll roles and are willing to take the road less travelled. Regina Cassandra was 14 when she played a teenager, who elopes and gets pregnant in the Tamil film,Kanda Naal Mudhal. "I didn't know anything and I was just happy to act in films. So it wasn't much of a concern when I played the role of a young mother in Nirnayam.
Obviously, it's quite a challenge to play the role of a young mother, but the script has to be convincing enough for me to take up such a role at this point of my career," says Regina.
Lakshmi Manchu, who is playing a mom for the first time in her upcoming film, Budugu, echoes similar sentiments. "I never look at the character I'm playing. Instead, I look at how the character would turn up if I enact. In such case, I should not have played the witch Irendri in Anaganaga O Dheerudu to start off my career. I don't want to just confine myself to stereotypical roles and I'm an artiste and I aspire for a long career.When I heard the script of Budugu, I believed it was excellent and I did not even think twice. I'm already a mom and I wouldn't have done justice to my role, if it wasn't for my nieces. They have been preparing me well for the film."
Apparently Nithya Menen didn't for once think about how playing a mother would impact her career prospects when giving the nod to play mother to Tejaswi Madivada in Malli Malli Idi Rani Roju. "Nithya is someone who is always interested in doing experimental roles.When she heard the script of this film, she was very impressed and immediately gave the nod," says a source close to Nithya. The film is tipped to be an out-of-the-box romantic drama.
Director Vikram Kumar,who cast Shriya and Samantha as young moms in the Akkineni multi- starrer, believes it's all about trying out something new. "We zeroed in on Shriya as we thought she can bring a lot of freshness to the role. Since the role was that of a young mom,we thought she perfectly fit the bill. Moreover, she was already paired opposite Nagarjuna a few times, so their on-screen chemistry was perfect," explains the director.
Moreover, Shriya,who has been there and done that — playing mommy in Midnight's Children — believes playing a mom onscreen is no longer a taboo. The actress who is playing Venky's wife
in Gopala Gopala believes, "It all boils down to the script rather than the marital status of the character."