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Throwback Thursday: 5 Times Ratna Pathak Shah Played Unconventional Roles With Aplomb

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When the lockdown happened last year, I as someone who loves going out was finding it hard to be sane in the confines of my home. I love my family but they can be rather quiet often and oh, boy do I love to talk! So I relied heavily on light-hearted series to get me through it all. I just wanted a few laughs and content that could help me escape from reality. It started with Friends and then I went to watch Sarabhai vs Sarabhai again because I loved that show when it used to be on TV. We’d watch it together as a family and have a good time! Years later, we still love all the characters, especially Ratna Pathak Shah’s as a high-class, sophisticated and possessive mom.

Ratna Pathak Shah has done several Bollywood movies in which she essayed the role of a mother. However, while our culture expects all women to fit in the preset description of an ideal mother who is ever-sacrificing, nurturing and simply perfect, Pathak brought layers to her characters. Speaking of which, her mother, Dina Pathak was an impeccable actor as well who essayed matriarchal roles that were far from being run-of-the-mill. Interestingly, Dina Pathak played a mother in Gol Maal back in 1979 and decades later, Ratna Pathak did the same in Golmaal 3. Dina Pathak was also the tough-to-impress mother in Khubsoorat in 1980 and decades later, Ratna Pathak played queen and a strict mother in the Sonam Kapoor-Fawad Khan starrer Khoobsurat.

While Pathak Shah has been taking the theatre industry by the storm, Bollywood has witnessed her virtuosity through the realistic portrayal of femininity. Today, as she celebrates her birthday, we look back at her roles in which she shattered the stereotypical image of mothers.

Lipstick Under My Burkha

As Ratna Pathak Shah’s character is publicly shamed for having and exploring sexual desires at an older age, it was a moment of rage for us as an audience. But for her character, it was both humiliating and freeing. In the end, as she sits with her entourage of women who don’t judge, who’ve been wronged too, you can tell the part in her that cared about the society died!

Kapoor and Sons

Families are not perfect but how does a woman process the infidelity of her husband, coming out of the closet of her son, violating the trust of her other son? How does she deal with the death of her husband with the last interaction being a fight? Regrets, quarrels and flaws make this family drama one with several layers with Ratna Pathak Shah’s character in the center of it all.

Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na

In this film, Ratna Pathak Shah plays the role of a protective mother to a son whose late father was a fierce warrior. Friendly and independent, she is a single mother who does everything she can to not let her son follow the path of violence. But life has different plans for him!


She has royal responsibilities and also those of taking care of a paralysed husband. Ratna Pathak Shah’s character is of a woman who has toughened due to the responsibilities on her shoulder, running an empire and raising children on her own. But how she learns to detangle the knots in her soul, take a step back and cut the cord is something that will warm your heart in this easy-breezy rom com.

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She was raised by a mother who taught her that she must sacrifice her dreams and aspirations for her family, only then she can have a successful familial life. She passed on that knowledge to her daughter but when her daughter suffers domestic abuse and decides to stand up for herself, Ratna Pathak Shah’s character has to go through a journey of her own to un-learn the sexism she was taught.

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