Once upon a time in Bollywood, moms were the ever-reliable emotional anchors, with a teary Nirupa Roy leading the league. They were experts in dramatising every household woe like Rakhee in Karan Arjun (1995), or icons of sacrifice like Nargis in Mother India (1957). But then, came a new wave: Dina Pathak as the pretend mother in Gol Maal (1979) bringing a refreshing humour to the role; and Zohra Sehgal, with all that sass and evergreen swag giving life to Cheeni Kum (2007). Next up was Kirron Kher in Om Shanti Om (2007), as the cool, camp, and utterly delightful Bela Makhija. Here’s why we’re Team Bela.
Kher’s Bela is the epitome of campy charm. Her antics are not just a delight to watch; they're a masterclass in embracing life with a theatrical flourish. There’s a reason her "Nahiiii!" (with her hands on her ears) has become a much-loved meme. And let's not forget the quintessential quivering-lower-lip-crying-by-the-window-sill moment that is practically an art form in its own right. Shah Rukh Khan's Om calls her the "filmy maa," acknowledging how she lives life as if she's the main character in her own blockbuster, with the camera permanently fixated on her fabulousness. And honestly, who wouldn't be a fan of that level of delightful self-awareness?
Every time Om walks through the door, whether it's after a day on set or a good 30 years later as a reincarnation, she unfailingly exclaims, “Aa gaya beta? Bohot der laga di, mai toh darr hi gayi thi (Oh child, you’re finally home? You had me worried.),” as if time hasn't skipped a beat. Bela's “Aa gaya beta” remains a timeless and heartwarming ritual. There’s also her remarkable ability to forgive. A simple “Aaj maaf karde, Ma (Please forgive me today, Ma),” and she melts like butter on a hot day. She's the queen of unconditional love, quick to fret, even quicker to forgive — because in her life, love runs deeper than any worry or grudge.
Kher's comedic prowess is a force to be reckoned with, and whether she's theatrically stabbing herself in the chest out of sheer frustration or scaring the living daylights out of Mukesh Mehra (Arjun Rampal) with fake eyebrows and a spine-chilling "Andar matt jana (Don’t you dare go inside)", Bela is a comedy goldmine. Her easily-frustrated demeanour when dealing with the delicate new actresses and the sheer force with which she screams at everyone will have you giggling.
One thing is for sure, there’s no one as self-assured as Bela. She stands tall in her tiny house, regaling Om with tales of her could-have-been stardom as Anarkali in Mughal-e-Azam (1960), blissfully attributing her absence from the cast to her pregnancy, as if that was the sole reason Madhubala got the part. The cherry on this comic cake is her nonchalantly adding, "Waise Madhu ne bhi theek thak sambhaal liya (Madhubala also managed it just fine)." While the world, including her own child, might see her as just another junior artist, Bela radiates main character energy.
Let's face it, Sandy (Deepika Padukone) wouldn't be able to nail the role of Shantipriya (a.k.a Sandy’s past life avatar) if it weren't for Bela being her mentor. Bela doesn't just dip her toes into the casting process, she dives right in, surviving cringe-worthy auditions and even supervises makeup and wardrobe decisions. Moulding Sandy into Shantipriya isn't a walk in the park, but Bela proves she’s more than up to the challenge.
When it comes to her son, Bela Makhija is not just a support system; she's a one-woman army. Headstrong and unwavering in her beliefs, her certainty that this rising Bollywood star is her reincarnated son isn’t shaken even in the face of scepticism and backlash. He returns after 30 years, armed with a revenge plan, and Bela doesn't bat an eye before jumping on board. No questions asked. You want revenge? Let's get your revenge.
Like any stellar mom, Bela isn't just content with dreams; she's a dream-weaver extraordinaire. While she keeps Om grounded, she's also the gust of wind beneath his wings. As Om gazes at the colossal billboard of Shantipriya, dreamily planning the future, Bela stands behind him, a pillar of assurance, with her belief in his potential. When Om, wide-eyed and hopeful, asks, "Ma, main hero banunga na? (Will I become a hero?)," Bela doesn't skip a beat. Pat comes the answer, "Zaroor banega mere raja (Of course, my darling)." She doesn't back this claim with a laundry list of evidence; all she has is belief. It is the kind of support we all crave, especially when our paths get a bit rocky. Bela constantly reminds us all that a little belief goes a long way.