Argue as you may till the cows come home on how the recently departed actress Sujatha was much better actress than the stereotyped mother roles she has been doing the last three decades. Truth is, we will end up remembering her most of the times as mothers to the likes of Rajini, Prabhu and other leading stars who are themselves in their twilight of their careers now.
These stars were icons for us generation X-ers, and their on-screen mother was like ours, and Sujatha was one of the most comforting faces to look at on big and small screen. It doesn’t matter that she was terribly under-utilised because till today there is no place for the Meryl Streeps and Cate Blanchettes in Tamil film industry. You are either Marylin Monroe or mama Huxtable and after almost a decade of playing leading ladies to the leading men, she took on the latter roles and give her all to it.
Of all “sons” she had relationship with, the weirdest must be the recurring non-relationship with Rajini. She played his mother in Maaveran, Kodi Parakkuthu Uzhaippali and Baba, where as a baby he was never destined to be with his mother till maybe latter part of his adult life. Maybe.
In Maaveeran, she plays the typical split-from-son mother, a plotline beaten to death in Hindi film back in the 70s that hung over throughout the 80s. She goes amnesiac, sort of, until she is reunited with her husband and ultimately, her son. Only time we see mother and son together is towards the climax when Rajini is not busy beating up the bad guys.
The same plot reappears in the Kodi Parakkuthu, and this time she goes mute. Brushes with the unrecognized son Rajini aside, the only time the two spend time together is perhaps towards the end when Rajini is not beating up the bad guys.
As whittle down from director Rajasekhar, to Bharathiraja, we find ourselves watching P. Vasu’s Rajini film, Uzhaippali a silly, but enjoyable film, where again, Sujatha plays mother with amnesia, driven away from son Rajini, until both finally recognise each other and have quality time as mother and son, that too towards the end when Rajini is not beating up the bad guys.
Zoom forward a decade and we find ourselves in Rajini’s own scripted film Baba. This time, Sujatha is not amnesiac or mute, but told by many swamijis who spent too much time staring at the snow peaks of
The root of this troubled “relationship” must have taken place decades earlier when she was the main star of K. Balachander’s Avargal, where Rajini played her verbally sadistic husband. It was not a relationship meant to happen, and it didn’t even went well when she played his mother.
But that is a terrible long digression on this piece where we acknowledge that she was like our own on-screen mother. We don’t like it when the sons hurt her feeling, even if it was by someone Innocent as played by Prabhu, or by two-fisted horse-riding gravity defying stuntmen like the ones Rajini played. No, don’t you hurt her feelings. She’s your mom, get her back, Rajini, and for god’s sake, look for a bride and get married, Prabhu, she won’t be around forever. And she’s not now.