'Heroine cannot be pulled off by a pregnant actor'

26 May 2011
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Just a day after Madhur Bhandarkar wrote a detailed blog about the shelving of his ambitious project Heroine following Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's pregnancy, the writer of the film Anuraadha Tewari express her views on the matter which seems to have been blown out of proportion. Here is what she has posted on her social networking profiles.

I think this one has to be the non debate of the century. I mean I can't believe it's become about gender discrimination – my first reaction was huh??

This is the VISUAL medium. Unlike any other profession, this is work where writers and directors 'visualize' things and break their backs trying to make it all real or believable or both. Am not even harping on glamour, am just saying believable. The character in 'Heroine' (since I have written it) CANNOT be pulled off by someone pregnant. It is as SIMPLE as that. Forget the physical strain and emotional stress and all that jazz, we can keep debating that ad nauseum . . . it simply does NOT fit into THIS role. This is a strictly adult film with mature content (no it's not p**n). It's just bold in the visual and mature in what it's depicting.

Of course, people have gone on about it without knowing ANYTHING about the script. But surely knowing the kind of cinema the Director is known for, I can assure you it is NOT nice, even for an informed audience member like me to see a pregnant woman drink and smoke and snort coke and sleep with various people. I would cringe, seriously I would! Much like if I knew Malaika Arora was pregnant while doing Munni Badnaam (not before and after), or Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct . Or Hema Malini in Sholay as Basanti or Kareena Kapoor in We Are Family while the other actress in both the Films (Jaya and Kajol) was pregnant – cause it didn't get in the way of their roles . . . simple.

It is about creative liberty and NOT about desirability in Motherhood that it's suddenly been turned into. OF COURSE Malaika is hot even now, post motherhood. Most Hollywood actresses are! What's s#x appeal got to do with Motherhood anyways??? Rani isn't considered hot without being married or a mother, Malaika is hot with both . . . so??? Am just amazed that we have such short attention spans that anything that is said in a high pitch with authority becomes the truth . . . I mean really!!!

As for the contentious pregnancy clause... well, I am personally all for it. Because it's a CLAUSE not a LAW! No one is saying that there should be a law stating that no actress can ever be a Mother. It is a clause that may be needed in a certain Film. I think that should be left to the Producers as well as the actress. Actors include clauses of their own (some of them would really kill you!) so why not one from the makers' side. The actress can REFUSE if she doesn't find it important or applicable or offensive or whatever. She has a Choice. But here is what the clause protects – not just the Producers' money but the hard work of an ENTIRE unit. People seem to be forgetting that altogether! Like in the case of 'Heroine' where because of the actress not fitting into the role anymore, the Film gets plugged and at least a 100 technicians find themselves jobless. All of us employed for the next 6 months (not writers but the others) are suddenly without work and NO MONEY!!! (Even writers are only paid about 50% before shoot). So the situation is not just responsible for the Makers. It is so for the ENTIRE unit – the true victims of the case.

Having said all of this, and in no mood to mud sling and as the only woman on the team I must state that I am quite CONVINCED that the intention of the Actress was NOT to be unfair or dishonest. I personally think (and have said so earlier) she was genuinely warm and receptive and TRULY CARED for the script. However, my sense is that she was caught in a personal situation – a very tricky one at that and perhaps hoped that it would all work out in the end, especially, since I have no doubts on her dedication and sincerity to the Film. My feeling is that it sort of got baldy handled from the announcement onwards. Even after that things could have been sorted from both ends and, knowing the Director, if sorted amicably, there is no DOUBT in my head that he would have waited for her to return.

What saddened and intensely angered me were the planted stories thereafter (I must congratulate the PR though . . . it's a great job done, seriously!) to try and fudge and confuse the issue and getting gender into it. But am over that now... past the anger and past the frustration of watching 4 months of hard work, sleepless nights and missing life for a script DESIGNED for someone to go down the drain overnight. Knowing that my market value itself will suffer because of a shelved project . . . I am done with that and moved on and let go.

In this business, and otherwise, the only thing one can be is being true to one's craft and retain one's integrity and keep up the passion no matter what. Hopefully we have all done that and now let go knowing the Universe will do the right thing... do the needful. Like it always does :)

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