In the 1960s, post-Independence euphoria was still prevalent. The films were gentle, romantic, with a lot of songs; the period has often been called the golden era of Hindi cinema. The characters had specific constructive roles to play – the heroes were generally doctors or engineers and the heroines were teachers, doctors and nurses. Family conflict occurred in the context of family expectations and due to differential status between the hero and the heroine. Often external factors, especially those representing western values tried to break the family apart.
The classical example of this was a Hindi film made in Madras (now called Chennai) titled Khandaan [The Family] (Directed by A. Bhimsingh, India, 1965) where the patriarch has to divide the family and the estate under the influence of a foreign returned ‘villain’ who manages to drive a wedge in the family. Hindi films were very strongly influenced by two Hindu scriptures – Ramayana and Mahabharata. In both these scriptures families play a major role, where divisions within the family result from the greed of power. It can be argued that ‘lolly’, lady and land are three main causes of family conflict, divisions and war. Family conflicts, central in South Asian cinema, also tend to explore the nation’s politico-historical experiences that are cast in common cultural and antinomies of East versus West and tradition versus modern, all undergirding one central conflict between the community and the individual.The oedipal complex in the Indian context has been alluded to elsewhere.
Mothers-in-law pitting against daughters-in-law, especially if the latter were westernized and independent thinking, leading to conflict of values, and often the sons and fathers-in-law got caught in the middle. The roles of mother-in-law and sometimes sister-in-law led to conflict and destruction of the ideal family, and occasionally the conflict reflected the ‘partition’ of the country as well.
Similar context has been repeated widely in Hindi movies, especially in what was often used as social film. For a period, films produced in Chennai were described as social, as these largely focused on family melodrama generally caused by one or more naughty individuals and/or by natural causes.
Maa Santoshi Maa also depicts a journey of three families which faces conflicts for several factors but later everyone gets along well with the blessings of Maa Santoshi Maa. This enhances their belief on Santoshi Maa. This film takes audiences on a rollercoaster ride of mixture of emotions like joy, sorrow, excitement and at the end you will be left with no option but only weep.