That’s what the pregnancy clause entails - an actress can't get pregnant during the making of the film. The clause hit national headlines a few weeks back, no thanks to Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, who gallantly announced his ‘soon-going-to-be grandfather’ status on Twitter. Is that fair – the clause? I have thought long &hard about it. Strip me of my feminism & put me in the shoes of the producer/director/company that invests crores into a venture as risky as the movie making business, I would say YES. It is right about fair.
Acting and modeling are professions unlike any other. They are hugely dependent on how you look. An actor’s (male/female) job is to look a certain way in the films he/she has agreed to work on. Physicality, body language, weight, dressing, health, safety everything matters a great deal for the entire duration of the film. How can an actor, 4 months into her term, be expected to perform the tasks given to her which includes smoking, drinking, extensive travelling, outdoor shoots that requires you to be away from home for long periods of time so on & so forth? No producer in his sane mind would want to do that. Why would he? God forbid, should there be an untoward incident, an accident or any unfortunate event, who will pay? Don’t we all know that film making is as much about art & creativity as it is about making money. And so it should be.
Hollywood is known to have a clause for such sticky situations. They mandate that the lead actors don’t indulge in high risk activities like skiing, horse riding, flying planes or racing cars. And this is clearly understood & perfectly adhered to by one & all. Their logic is simple & straight-forward: If you slip, you pay. That’s professionalism.
Are actresses no naïve not to know that, it is for their physical beauty, that they charge a fee which runs into a couple of crores? Professional that she is, why did Aishwarya wait for so long & then abruptly let her father-in-law announce the news to the world? Shouldn’t the director/producer know this critical piece of information directly from her or at least from her PR personnel & well in advance, & not through a social networking site? Even during the promotions of the film in Cannes, she was reportedly already carrying, & yet went about the whole shindig with happy abandon, while the poor director & producer remained clueless about the shock that was to befall them shortly afterwards.
Are we saying she herself wasn’t aware of the situation? That to me is an outrageous assumption. Even teenagers know that a pregnancy can be confirmed within a month of missing your cycle (no…not the one you ride!!). Don’t we know OTC (over the counter) pregnancy test kits, for as low as Rs 50, are easily available in every medical store worth its name in every nook & corner of a city especially like Mumbai? These days, just as unwanted pregnancies can be terminated, they can be planned well in advance too. And if an unplanned pregnancy did take place, an actor should take the producer/director into confidence.
I don’t understand why career-minded women would or should have a problem with the clause? The multiple zeroes in their coveted pay check, the media attention, the fame, the benefits, the fan following, the instant recognition, the free lunches, the party invites, the luxury, the glamour – all this is offered to them on a platter thanks to a profession that puts a premium on looking good. They don’t seem to be complaining about of any of that!!