Screenwriter Jyoti Kapoor feels for women struggling with pregnancy. In last year’s Badhaai Ho-for which she got a story credit-she delved into the stigma an unplanned pregnancy can invite on an older couple. In the upcoming Good Newwz (releasing on December 27), a “dramedy about love and acceptance”, Kapoor focuses on two pregnant women-Kareena Kapoor Khan and Kiara Advani-who rely on in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) to start families. Both films take a light-hearted approach to social commentary.
“Humour always helps when you are trying to tell a difficult story,” says Kapoor, a journalist-turned-screenwriter. “The tragedy of my life was that while the women in my stories were getting pregnant one after another, I was struggling with it myself all this while.”
Kapoor’s own experience of a failed IVF procedure made its way into the script of Good Newwz. The film also stars Akshay Kumar and Diljit Dosanjh who play supportive husbands, caught up in an unlikely situation. Writing Good Newwz soon became the antidote Kapoor needed. “I definitely feel that when you break a taboo in a film, it starts a dialogue and brings it into the mainstream conversation,” she says. “I have seen couples, especially women, going out of their way to hide that they can’t get pregnant for fear of judgement by a society that treats fertility and motherhood as virtue.”
Pregnant women in Hindi films are not an anomaly, but they can be trivialised.
The women in the film are an amalgamation of those Kapoor encountered in her IVF journey. “Confident ones who had Googled the hell out of the subject and others who were clueless, the shy ones and the ones with verbal diarrhoea, some who were doing this because they badly wanted to be mothers, others who had succumbed to social pressure, and some, like me, who were perpetually confused,” she says.
“Humour always helps when you are trying to tell a difficult story,” says Kapoor, a journalist-turned-screenwriter.
The film also touches upon a larger talking point-what must women do with their lives and their bodies? “I always find it fascinating, how we as a society are perpetually obsessed with other people’s private lives,” says Kapoor. “It starts with ‘well-wishers’ pestering people to get married, then to have a kid. And if you already have a kid, they will pressurise you to have two.”
That a mainstream film with popular stars is openly talking about IVF is a welcome move. Pregnant women in Hindi films are not an anomaly, but they can be trivialised (2001’s Chori Chori Chupke Chupke). At times, their only task is to prop up the hero, a man-child, afraid of responsibility and his loss of freedom (2005’s Salaam Namaste and 2014’s Shaadi Ke Side Effects). There are a few exceptions, though. Writer-director Sujoy Ghosh, for instance, used it cleverly in Kahaani (2012), while Meghna Gulzar’s Filhaal… (2002) highlighted issues surrounding surrogacy. Kya Kehna (2000) even broached the subject of giving birth outside wedlock bravely.
That a mainstream film with popular stars is openly talking about IVF is a welcome move.
This year, ZEE5 released Badnaam Gali, starring Patralekhaa as a surrogate mother who draws social ire. Next year, there will be yet another studio-backed film on surrogacy: Kriti Sanon and Pankaj Tripathi star in Mimi, a remake of the National Award-winning Marathi film Mala Aai Vhhaychy! (2001). With more films addressing the poignant side of pregnancy, we might well be over the ‘bump’.
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