When Former Miss World 1994 and current Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai became pregnant, it was widely reported in India press that Madhur Bhandarkar, the director of her next film project Heroine felt betrayed by the news of the pregnancy and that he would have to postpone filming on account of it.
“The entire event would not have taken place if on the onset the actress would have informed the state of her health and impending maternity,” Bhandarkar is quoted as saying in many news outlets. “The truth was hidden from us. We learnt about the entire thing from news channels like the rest of the world that the said actress was four-months pregnant and she was due in November.”
Since then, there has been much chatter in the India press and Bollywood about whether Bollywood studios could have actresses sign a “no pregnancy” clause in their contracts. She is being called selfish for daring to get pregnant in the middle and height of a very critical film project which Bhandarkar said is the most ambitious film of his career. More pity is being shown on the director than the pregnant star as the entire film would revolve around the woman, who has been referred to in years past as “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World.”
If that isn’t the biggest bunch of sexist B.S.??? Granted, India society is known for not being that tolerant of women’s rights and having a culture that is less sympathetic to pregnant women in in the workplace than other nations, the United States included. There are many stories of pregnant women being replaced upon an immediate announcement of their condition and of women hiding their pregnancies for as far along as possible to stave off the inevitable negative outcome from its discovery. In Rai’s case, one blogger asked whether the pregnancy will undo Rai’s career. Really? One pregnancy? Undo a near 15 year career?
Meanwhile, here in the United States, there have been several instances of American actresses and performers getting pregnant (whether intentionally or not) and having to delay filming, have body doubles stand in (as in the recent case of Penelope Cruz) or limit filming to above the waist shots. There is more understanding and tolerance here that babies and star pregnancies are not necessarily nuances and blights. The way that this woman is drawing so much ire from the Bollywood industry, you would think she was accused of murdering her toddler or something. She’s just pregnant for God’s sake. I suppose a clause like that which people are advocating for would lead some up and coming actresses to abort their babies should they wind up unintentionally pregnant in the middle of a rising acting career. What a sad commentary!
Rai and her actor/producer husband Abhishek Bachchan of 4 years are pregnant with the couple’s first child.