If our TV dramas revolve around family life, mothers are often their pivot.
The mother can either make the lives of her children (and their spouses and their children) with her vast reserve of support, or break them with her vindictive wrath. The effects of her actions (or inaction, in some cases) reverberate throughout the plot line — whether it rises euphorically or takes a dip for the worse, in either case you know a mom’s involved.
Here are six iconic TV moms who set the benchmark for mothers both wonderful and vile.
1. Bilqees Kaur (Bilqees Kaur)
Bio: An owner of a dhaba-cum-sweet shop in New York, Bilquees ran the house with her husband Iqbal, who also helped cook and cater to the customers.
Played by Bushra Ansari
Bilqees Kaur, a matriarchal woman of steel, strongly believed in ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’, applying the age-old adage to her poor bahu as well. She expects her children to bend to her will, and sowed several seeds of rebellion in the process.
Although Bilquees cuts a domineering figure, her past explains her bitterness. Having eloped with Iqbal and converted to Islam in her youth, she is eaten up by the guilt of her decisions and thus becomes adamant to instill traditional values in her children. Eventually, she realises she is driving away her kids and lets go of her past.
Bilquees Kaur was one mother who in pursuit of her kids’ success forgot that all children are different and need to be independent to survive happily in this world. Plus, the character serves as an all-important reminder that Moms are human too.
2. Rafia (Zindagi Gulzar Hai)
Bio: Rafia’s husband abandons her after the birth of their third daughter, leaving her alone to raise and provide for them.
Played by Samina Peerzada
Although the original novel didn’t expand on the protagonist Kashaf’s family, Zindagi Gulzar Hai (HUM TV) presented her mother, Rafia, in a role admired by all viewers. Shown to be a mother of three daughters and kept in a separate home, Rafia refuses to back down and bow before her husband’s barrage of cynical remarks about her daughters.
She not only deals with her husband, but also patiently bears the temper of Kashaf who is pessimistic in her outlook on life and the future. Instead of bemoaning their fate, Rafia pushes her daughters to pursue their education and struggle for a better life.
A calm and composed figure, Rafia would reject any taunts about her inability to bear a son and had an answer for all those who thought daughters were a mere burden:
“Betiyan bojh hoti nahi hain, unko bana diya jata hai.” (“Daughters aren’t a burden, but are made to be.”)
3. Amna (Daam)
Bio: Hailing from an underprivileged family, Amna juggles a good-for-nothing husband, a doctor daughter who is depressed about her singlehood, a son keen on getting rich quick and an intellectually disabled daughter. Her rich brother does nothing but watch.
Played by Lubna Aslam
Amna in Daam (ARY Digital) also proved to be one mother who isn’t deterred by the obstacles laid out in life. Amna supports her eldest daughter’s dream to become a doctor, while her rich brother spends money on mosques.
Unlike ‘the typical mother’, she is open to her daughter’s ideas and doesn’t criticise her choice of friends, male or female. When her brother’s wife taunts her about her daughters’ future, she rebukes her by emphasising her trust in her children and God.
Her character arcs satisfactorily, as her financial situation improves enough to merit a visit from her brother. She thwarts his gift of fresh apples from his farm by handing them to the help, rising about her meek acquiescence as she finally realises the true face of pretentious relatives.
4. Fareeda (Humsafar)
Bio: The doting mother reveals her true colours post-widowhood as she sets out to find a bahu that meets her standards.
Played by Atiqa Odho
This is one mother we can’t forget, no matter how much we may want to. Starting off as a loving mother and mother-in-law, Fareeda showed her true colours when she connives to separate her son Ashar from his pregnant wife Khirad because she felt the latter didn’t meet the standards of elite society.
Her fiery delivery of dialogues like ‘Woh mere Ashar k qabil nahi hai!’ and ‘Main usko doodh me makhi ki tarhan nikal dongi’! matched her obsession with perfection for her son, for which she destroys many lives. Brrr, this one still sends shivers down our spine!
5. Rasheeda (Sadqay Tumhare)
Bio: It’s complicated.
Played by Samiya Mumtaz
Sadqay Tumhare (HUM TV) will now be known for its intriguing plot but it was actually the mother figure Rasheeda who owned it. A victim of the limitations of living in this society, Rasheeda takes out her anger at her children when they refuse to comply with her wishes.
Always bitter with resentment, she doesn’t care when it comes to her eldest daughter Shanno, hitting her with a tight slap when she rebels a little. Unloved, misunderstood and misused by those around her, Rasheeda is a mother who becomes the ultimate reason for discord.
Her role showed that mothers’ harsh treatment of their children can cause them to lose hope in life.
6. Durre Shehwar (Durre Shehwar)
Bio: Married to a cold-hearted army official, she learns that quitting is not the way to go about married life and teaches the same to her daughter.
Played by Samina Peerzada
Many dramas show mothers who support their children against all odds, but Durre Shehwar (HUM TV) zooms into an interesting mother-daughter dynamic between Durre Shehwar and Shandana.
Shandana, whose marriage is rocky at best, adores her father and thinks her parents had a happy marital life. When the older Durre Shehwar reveals the contrary, she also advises Shandana not to resent her father and work on her marriage, sending the message: you give a little to get a little.