Art & Culture

October: A love letter to all mums

Kaveree Bamzai
Kaveree BamzaiApr 14, 2018 | 18:32

October: A love letter to all mums

There's a lovely moment in October after a particularly traumatic night in which a young boy asks his stoic mother, "Should I go to tuition today?" "Of course," says his mother, a professor at IIT Delhi, whose oldest daughter Shiuli (played by an incredible Banita Sandhu) is in deep coma after slipping off a hotel ledge in a freak accident.

Life, good, bad, indifferent, has to go on. In that answer, Shoojit Sircar and his fine collaborator Juhi Chaturvedi encapsulate the best of Indian motherhood.


At another moment, Dan's mother (Dan is a hospitality student played by Varun Dhawan) tells Shiuli's mother (played with inordinate grace by animation film director Gitanjali Rao) that she admires how she can handle so much, and still continue working. One just has to, says Shiuli's mother, with an invisible shrug.


More than a love story between Shiuli and Dan, Sircar and Chaturvedi's movie is a tribute to mothers. Shiuli's quiet mother, waiting in the hospital, tired after a long day, but ready to go to the classroom, and also with enough mindspace to tell her two younger children about where they can find "quiet spot to study".

Shiuli's mother resisting her brother-in-law's pressure to switch off the ventilator and give up on her daughter. Shiuli's mother watching over her daughter, anxious, alert. Shiuli's mother again ensuring her favourite tree and its flowers are well looked after.

It's mothers like her who make us who we are. Silent, busy, never giving up, never giving in. It's mothers like Dan's (played by a newcomer Rachica Oswal) speaking flatly but with acceptance of her son's oddball ways - noting his failures but not judging him.


Friends are important in Dan and Shiuli's world. Dan's roommate, long suffering, but good humoured, lending him money, offering a shoulder sometimes, a bed another time. Shiuli's best friend, standing by her, filling in for Dan.

And it's the little things in the movie. The way Dan brings in someone from a beauty parlour to thread Shiuli's eyebrows even as she looks on unblinkingly. The way Shiuli's sister caresses her sister's short hair (shaved because of her head injury) and tells her she looks good. The way Shiuli's mother feeds her soup, her napkin placed carefully just below her chin. The gentle touch with which she puts her earrings on. The way she makes her practise writing her alphabet.

Sircar's work has taken us from the troubled Valley of Kashmir in Yahaan to war-torn Sri Lanka in Madras Cafe, from the insides of an old man's bowel movements in Piku to the workings of a young man's (ahem!) semen specimen in Vicky Donor.

In October, there are no headlines, no quirky plot developments. It's just a simple story of the human spirit. Of one woman's courage and will to stay alive. Of her mother's commitment to her daughter.


This is a love letter from Chaturvedi to all the mothers of the world. Who never surrender. Who never tire. Who are always there. And if it breaks your heart, remember what your mother must have felt when she raised you. And if you're a mother, you know your heart breaks every day for every little thing your children do and don't do.

It's the toughest job in the world, but someone's got to do it, and Gitanjali Rao just makes it look so good.

Can we have some more of her, please Bollywood?

Last updated: April 15, 2018 | 21:50
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