Nirupa Roy was the most renowned screen mother in Hindi cinema. Her characters were a symbol of sacrifice in a world driven by violence and greed. She brought a new meaning and emotional intensity to the maternal image.
Before she became known as Hindi cinema’s eternal mother, Nirupa Roya had a thriving career playing leads in social dramas and mythological films. Nirupa Roy, known as ‘Chibi’ as a child, started out in Gujarati films with the film Ranakdevi (1946). After her marriage to Kamal Balsara, she was known as Kokila Balsara. Nirupa Roy was her screen name.
Like Leela Chitnis, she transitioned on to maternal roles as the years passed. Nirupa Roy won three Filmfare Awards for Best Supporting Actress for playing the self-sacrificing mother who does everything only for her child in Munimji (1955), Chhaya (1961) and Shehnai (1964) and was immortalized onscreen with Salim-Javed’s dialogue, “Mere paas maa hai” from Deewaar (1975). But her early roles proved that she was much more than just a mother figure.