Surrogacy & Bollywood

Surrogacy is much in the news these days, as the Government intends to put serious restrictions on the practice of renting a womb.

There have been significant films on the theme of surrogate parenthood.Here’s looking at the ones that mattered.

  1. Doosri Dulhan (1983): An underrated director Lekh Tandon  who achieved  huge commercial success  withProfessor in the 1960s and Dulhan Wohi Jo Piya Man Bhaye in the 70s, madeDoosri Dulhan, a film about a childless couple played by Victor Bannerjee and Sharmila Tagore who bring home a prostitute played with blizzard-like bravura by Shabana Azmi, to bear them a child. The film claimed its origins in a play by Anil Barve. But if we dig deeper the idea of a couple ‘hiring’ a womb goes back to a very old American film The Baby Maker. Released in 1970,The Baby Maker directed by James Bridges told the story of a hippie girl(Barbara Hershey) who agrees to have a baby for a childless couple. Says Shabana Azmi about Doosri Dulhan,

This film was way ahead of its time.It would be a  success now, if released .

I did a lot of research on the character of the prostitute who was picked up from Kamathipura, but didn’t do research on surrogacy. It wasn’t common in those days. Surrogacy is a difficult choice to make for all three people involved. The demands can be emotionally draining. However if it provides solace to the involved parties so be it.” Doosri Dulhan was a commercial failure,

  1. Filhaal(2002): The story of  two friends Rewa(Tabu) and Siya(Sushmita) best remembered today for Sushmitacompletely out-performing Tabu, Filhaal was a film that boldly addresses the theme of surrogacy.When Tabu’s married character was unable to have a baby her best friend Sushmita stepped into lend her womb. Complications in their sex life ensued. Says Meghna’s proud father Gulzar, “I don’t think I could have made Filhaal. The  sensibility, mood  , dialogues and even the subject reflected a young  aesthetic sense. I as a filmmakers would have been very shy to talk about surrogate motherhood . But Bosky drew a fine line between the sensitive theme and a sturdy storytelling. I don’t think I could have handled  Filhaal. The relationships were handled in a way that’s  not  my style. I’d have been so shy of talking about so many things that Bosky discusses in the film. Essentially men in our society fight shy of discussing such issues. Even women are inhibited about such matters. Bosky  dealt with the sensitive issue with such  gentle honesty. The film communicated itself to younger viewers. Though it touched on  sensitive issues, Bosky never allowed any awkwardness to creep into the narrative.
  2. I Am Afiaa:  Filmmaker Onir made a sensitive filmI Am Afiaa on sperm donation.The  story was part  of Onir’s 4-tier omnibus. Nandita Das played a woman awaiting her turn to be impregnated at a fertility clinic.Onir researched extensively on the subject of surrogate motherhood.Says Onir, “Surrogacy is science’s gift to humanity.A wonderful possibility for parents who cannot have a baby because of complications.They can  bear children that another woman can harbour and nurture, thereby making parenthood possible to many who otherwise might not have been able to experience it.”During the course of his research Onir discovered many anomalies and irregularities in the clinics that deal with alternative parenthood.Says Onir, “Information on sperm donation and the identity of the surrogate mother are supposed to be unconditionally confidential. Yet doctors give these away. In my film there was doctor played by director Anurag Basu who squeals on the identity of a sperm donor. Not done!”
  3. Vicky Donor(2012): A clutter-breaking ballsy cumming of age rom-com about the edgy adventures  of a sperm donor. Ayushmann Khurranna was bang-on as the massively fertile donor.Shoojit Sircar who directed Vicky Donorsays, “Surrogacy was always complicated. It’s a process whereby a childless couple can find happiness. But the laws and the loopholes don’t make it easy for a couple seeking surrogacy.Now it is going to be even worse.”
  4. Chori Chori Chupke Chupke(2001): A cheesy no-brainer about a couple [tooltip id="c1b465420d07c688942ed18eadfd9f92" keyword_color="#000000" background_color="#ffffff"][tooltip id="4db8f5608d45f5de7881d9bce162f4bf"]Salman Khan">[/tooltip][/tooltip] and Rani Mukherjee who bring home a prostitute  played by Preity Zinta to bear their child. This was more Pretty Woman than DoosriDulhan.

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