Of Meddling Moms and their daughters of Tollywood

Tiger Moms are respected in China for getting Olympic medals by driving the kids to strive for excellence. But there’s another category of “Tiger Moms” who are famous in the South Indian Film Industry, especially the likes of Tollywood and Kollywood. Yes, we are talking about the mothers of young film heroines who have been around for many years since young women stepped out of conservative households seeking stardom in films.

It may have been suitable for an era when film heroines were treated shabbily, without a vanity van or respect for basic amenities like food etc. We have seen that in cases of several heroines of the past from Jayalalitha to Sridevi, their mothers were as ubiquitous with their presence on the film sets sometimes leading to over-interference and friction with the heroes as well.

Those were the days the Star mothers would interfere in everything from the choice of the make-up man to the food served and the vanity vans assigned, and often rivalled the tantrums shown by Star heroes.

There were instances where some of these star mothers would order food for 20 people while ordering for the actress, which eventually landed home. Or they would order extra food and water bottles only to deport them all home along with the ‘Baby”. Krishna Vamsi in one of his superhit films, “Khadgam” made a hilarious statement about these over-interfering moms with their daughters trying their star luck.

But after the 90s, many of the modern-era heroines have started hiring professional secretaries or managers which include costume designers, hairstylists, and make-up artists. Some of them have risen to stardom or even superstardom with a professional approach to career management and avoiding any indulgences by their moms. Examples are Kajol Agarwal, Shriya Saran, Trisha Krishnan or even Rakul Preet Singh and more recently, Rashmika Mandana. All of them have a no-nonsense approach to work with complete professionalism and have sustained themselves with a long-lasting body of work across more than a few decades.

They never had issues with the producers or the heroes about over-interference by moms or any other fights. Even in Bollywood, you hear of actors like Alia Bhatt or Kiara Advani or Shraddha Kapoor who despite having folks at home who have been in films in another era never allowed them to dictate terms or define terms of engagement with the film crews signed by them. This is what makes their careers fly and achieve greater heights.

On the other hand, these over-interfering moms of some of the young heroines irritate everybody from the producer to the director to everyone in the unit with their laundry list of irrational demands. The immediate fallout is that the producers and the directors shy away from such heroines because they feel it is tough to manage the egos of a two-member team – both the mothers and their daughters.

This is the reason we find many promising careers of young heroines who are flying high suddenly getting cut short – due to the meddling moms and their tantrums. From telling what to wear, and what they eat to the specific dialogues and scenes in a film, these moms become a big pain in the creative process of filmmaking eventually forcing the makers to throw out both the daughter and the mom in due course.

It is evident that while there is a hyper-ventilating desire to give inputs and add unsolicited ideas during script-reading sessions also making many producers and directors rethink casting the heroines because they cannot stand their mothers. In recent times, Sreeleela and Faria Abdullah, and the actresses who are influenced very much by their mothers and their decisions. Though it is ok to be protective up to a certain extent, involving in the creative process, visiting sets regularly and being part of promotional activities and events, is something that many production houses and directors are not okay with. It is these mothers who even decide the remunerations.

The film Industry in the South has become more efficient and likes to deal with maturity and understanding while everyone is in sync with the directing team. The last thing they need is input on filmmaking from these over-eager moms who try to force-fit everything to their outdated worldviews about filmmaking and experiences of a bygone era. We have also seen that this kind of nauseating behaviour is quite telling in the careers of such heroines.

The ones who survive, and even thrive and flourish with long-standing careers are the heroines who come without the baggage of their mothers or fathers but those who are in sync with the makers with a professional manager. Even in the US, people find it challenging to work with mothers who piggyride on their daughters. The culture is so alien in the US to have anyone, but the daughter handle herself that it is self-evident from the way the society has evolved since the 90s.

Even during the birthday parties of pre-teenagers, nobody invites the parents or the caretaker of the child to the party, nobody expects the mom or dad to gatecrash because they only drop them off in the car and pick them up after the birthday party.

If this is the way it works for kids in their pre-teens, how can you imagine the headaches created by moms messing it all up for their star heroines? Nobody would like to deal with a heroine who still cannot handle her matters as an adult and needs a mom who can’t let go of a tendency to micromanage her career. Wake up moms and smell the coffee! Times have changed and it's time moms moved on too.

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