Out of all the typical characters that Indian television has developed over the years, none can possibly beat the dominating mother-in-law. In fact, so impactful has been the phenomenon that the Indian MIL became the subject of a Boston University research paper in 2018 titled “Curse of the Mummyji.” The research explored the figure of Indian MIL as shaped by pop culture and how it has significantly impacted the Indian bahu in general.
As the research paper suggests, the character of the problematic mother-in-law has been nicely reinforced among the Indian audience. That said not all of them are alike and some of them are definitely more tolerable (if not exactly the best) than others. In fact, we just thought of ranking some of the most famous MILs on Indian TV to prove just that.
Sometimes sweet, sometimes savage, and sometimes downright evil, here are seven Indian TV mothers-in-law ranked:
You all must be familiar with Kokila Modi or Kokilaben (played by Rupal Patel), courtesy Yashraj Mukhate’s mashup based on one of her dialogues. Now Saathiya was a hit show and Kokilaben easily one of the most well-received mothers-in-law on Indian television. But that doesn’t undo the fact that she was pretty problematic, sexist, and patriarchal. There were many instances in the show when she tried belittling her daughter-in-law Gopi bahu and made her feel like she was an incompetent wife. And the character was made to project to the audience that she was, in fact, a nice MIL. Nope, next!
While Mouni Roy must have played the role of Naagin Shivanya in the hit show, it was Sudha Chandran as Yamini Singh who proved to be the real vermin. She was deceptive, conniving, and also downright cruel. That said, at least, she wasn’t being peddled to us as a nice one. She was evil and that’s how her character was projected. Still better than Kokilaben!
Now the Mataji (played by Jaya Bhatia) in Sasural Simar Ka might have been projected like she was quite close to being an ideal MIL, we don’t really buy it. To begin with, she was quite an authoritarian who’d go to any extent to discipline her bahus. Yes, even slapping was alright. It was quite toxic if you ask us. However, the woman did fight for her bahus at times and went to the extent of putting her own life at stake. We’ll maybe give her a little credit for that.
Savita Tai (played by Usha Nadkarni) kept oscillating between extremes. Sometimes she was a horrendous person and other times she’d be a doting mother-in-law. That said, we appreciate the character for not being entirely black and white and thus a little more human than the otherwise stereotypical MILs.
From being a charter that we hated with a vengeance to great inspiration, Ammaji (Bhagwani Devi as known in the serial) really did pull a 180 in Na Aana Iss Des Laado. Her character graph was really commendable and we have to accept that she deserves the accolades for her powerful portrayal of a matriarch.
As educated and suave as Maya Sarabhai might have been, she left no opportunity to belittle her daughter-in-law Monisha, looked down at her, and constantly mocked her middle-class upbringing. That said, she never really expected Monisha to be a traditional bahu, was pretty open-minded, and cared for her without explicitly showing it. Let’s just say that she was a good MIL had it not been for all that elitism.
Smita Bansal as Sumita in Balika Vadhu was like a breath of fresh air among a slew of problematic mothers-in-law on Indian television. She looked after Anandi (Avika Gaur) like her own daughter, supported her pursuit of education and career. In fact, she favoured her bahu over her son after Jagya (Shashank Vyas) cheated on her and married someone else. We’ll let this one take all the glory!
So fam, which one of these MILs did you like the best?
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