The film, television and theatre fraternity as well as fans woke up on 18th May, 2017 to the shocking news of the untimely death of veteran actress Reema Lagoo who breathed her last in the wee hours of the morning. She had been shooting for Mahesh Bhatt’s television serial ‘Naamkaran’ and complained of uneasiness when she came home after the shoot. Though she was immediately taken to the hospital, she suffered a massive heart attack and passed away around 3.30 am.
Reema Lagoo was a rare combination of a beautiful face, a bubbly personality and loads of talent. She had acted in several Marathi and Hindi films as well as in Marathi plays and Hindi television serials and had a huge fan following. Though her soft and pleasant demeanour made her most suitable for the quintessential young ‘mother’ roles, she was also brilliant in strong character roles, comedy roles as well as roles where she displayed negative shades or acted as a seductress. She was equally at ease as the rich urban socialite, a middle-class mother or a woman in the rural setting. She added her own nuances to put life into the character and left a memorable mark.
It was director Shyam Benegal who gave her the initial break in Hindi films. In 1980 she had a ‘lavani’ dance number in the director’s much acclaimed and hard-hitting film Aakrosh. In 1981, he gave her a break in Kalyug– touted as the ‘modern-day Mahabharat’. She had a supporting role as the wife of the second brother Kulbhushan Kharbanda.
Soon however she graduated to accepting ‘mother’ roles at a very young age. She played the role of Juhi Chawla’s mother in Qayamat se Qayamat Tak when she was just 32 years of age. She had no qualms playing mother to all the top heroes and heroines of the nineties who were hardly a few years older than her. She was just 2 years older than Sanjay Dutt and yet she pulled off his mother’s role with such conviction in Vaastav that it is difficult to gauge the age difference when one is watching the film.
This amazing ability of hers to adapt herself to the demands of the time by switching over to ‘mother roles’ made her carve a special niche for herself as she gave to Hindi cinema the unique image of a ‘young urban mom’ and the character to this day remains synonymous with her. She became associated with Rajshri Productions, known for their family dramas and thus in Maine Pyar Kiya we were introduced to the lovable, ever-smiling, beautiful and friendly image of a ‘mother’ hitherto not seen in Hindi cinema. She dominated the nineties by acting in plenty of films which gave her ample scope to display her histrionics.
The nineties saw a new generation of stars on the rise and new kind of cinema being made and she thus became an integral part of many block-buster films of that era – Maine Pyar Kiya, Aashiqui, Saajan, Vaastav, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Judwaa, Yess Boss, Kal Ho Na Ho, Dilwale and the biggest of them all- Hum Aapke Hain Kaun. She has played mother to a long list of stars which included Govinda, Monish Bahl, Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Ajay Devgn, Akshay Kumar and Saif Ali Khan among the heroes and Juhi Chawla, Kajol, Madhuri Dixit, Sridevi, Urmila Matondkar and even Renuka Shahane among the heroines.
At the same time her on-screen chemistry with her screen husbands was also a delight to watch. Whether it was Anupam Kher (Hum Aapke Hain Kaun), Alok Nath (Hum Saath Saath Hain), Sayeed Jafferey (Yeh Dillagi) or Shivaji Satham (Vaastav, Jis Deh Mein Ganga Rehta Hai), she was spot on. She also shared screen space with Naseeruddin Shah in Najaayaz, Rihaee and Police Public .
In this blog I am listing out some of her memorable Hindi films which showcase the talent of this multi-faceted actress:
HUM AAPKE HAIN KAUN
One of the biggest blockbusters of Hindi cinema this film revolving around a marriage took the country by storm with its unique story-line and outstanding songs. It touched a chord in every viewer’s heart and till today remains a rare film in this genre. Reema Lagoo was perfectly cast as the wonderful and lovable mother of Renuka Shahane and Madhuri Dixit. Her contribution to the success of the film was indeed enormous.
Just watch her expressions in the song which speaks volumes of her talent and it is also easy to understand why she became a much-loved screen mother!
This film has her playing a widowed mother to Shah Rukh Khan. Both he and Juhi Chawla stay in his house and pretend to be married for a while acting as husband and wife so as not to hurt Reema Lagoo’s feelings.
KUCH KUCH HOTA HAI
She plays the understanding mother of Kajol, who knows that her daughter’s first love remained one-sided. She also shares a warm and friendly relationship with her would-be son-in-law Salman Khan and requests Kajol to give herself another chance in life by accepting him from the heart.
This bold film directed by Aruna Raje questions men’s double standards as they set different set of rules for the men and women of the village. All the men-folk of the village go to city to work leaving behind their wives and children almost the whole year. Reema Lagoo plays one such village woman who misses her husband and in his absence, she is only too eager to sleep with Naseeruddin Shah, the only male member of the village for a while.
RUI KA BOJH
This is an NFDC film directed by Subhash Agarwal which deals with three principal characters- a father, his son and daughter-in-law and how his presence in the house affects their relationship. Reema Lagoo who plays the not-so-affable daughter-in-law is brilliant and leaves her mark opposite Pankaj Kapoor who plays the father-in-law and Raghuvir Yadav who plays her husband.
HUM SAATH SAATH HAIN
In this typical family drama, she plays mother to four grown-up actors.- Mohnish Bahl, Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan and Neelam. But Mohnish happens to be her step-son and has a disability in his right hand. Everything is fine in the household till a group of Reema’s friends poison her mind against him and she starts acting like a typical step-mother and changes her colours.
This film fetched her the Best Supporting Actor Trophy from Filmfare. This film which was acclaimed by critics and loved by the public is a thrilling underworld drama and has Reema in the role of Sanjay Dutt’s mother. She has a powerful scene in the end where her son begs her to kill him and set him free from his worthless life of crime, underworld, murder and drugs and had reached a point of no-return. Reema delivers a superb performance as she unhesitatingly pulls the trigger and sets him free.
In Police Public, a thrilling murder mystery, in spite of knowing the truth behind the murder of the daughter-in-law of the house-Poonam Dhillon, Reema Lagoo, who plays a servant, sides with the murderers and even sleeps with the dishonest police officer Naseeruddin Shah. Finally it is only when CBI officer Raj Kumar threatens to pour acid on her face, does she spill the beans and confess to everything that she knows.
In Yeh Dillagi, Reema Lagoo plays a typical rich snobbish high-society lady who is aghast when she comes to know that both her sons- Akshay Kumar and Saif Ali Khan have fallen for their driver’s daughter Kajol. She tries her best to be antagonistic towards Kajol.
JIS DESH MEIN GANGA REHTA HAI
Here she plays a childless villager. She and her husband Shivaji Satham are entrusted the job of bringing up Shakti Kapoor and Himani Shivpuri’s son who grows up to be Govinda. After 24 years, the real parents come back to take their son with them leaving Reema Lagoo heartbroken. She has several powerful as well as emotional scenes and she shines brilliantly. Her crystal clear diction and loud voice add to the gravity of the scenes.
Reema Lagoo plays a poor worker who by a quirk of fate encounters a wounded Naseeruddin Shah when he is running away from a gang out to kill him. She helps him to safety and ends up not only removing the bullet from his body but also sleeping with him. She plays a vulnerable character torn between her lover who is a criminal and their illegitimate son Ajay Devgn who grows up to join the police force. Yet she does not hesitate to take Naseeruddin’s side when the situation arises and even goes to the extent of slapping Ajay.
MAIN PREM KI DEEWANI HOON
In this remake of Chitchor, Reema Lagoo plays Abhishek Bachchan’s mother and has a small role only. But the class and dignity she lends to her character is amazing.