Mumbai: The stalling of Madhur Bhandarkar’s “Heroine” after it became known that lead actress Aishwarya Rai was expecting has stoked a debate on introducing a pregnancy clause in film contracts. Some feel it should be there, while others like Sushmita Sen and Ram Gopal Varma oppose it.
Aishwarya’s pregnancy came as a big blow to Bhandarkar’s ambitious project and he said he was “shocked” and “depressed” after the film was put on the backburner.
“The pregnancy clause should be included. We have to save our producers also. Producers spend so much money for the shooting and suddenly if the heroine becomes pregnant, it causes a huge problem for the producer,” T.P Agarwal, president, Film Federation of India, told IANS.
“If the actors say that in the coming two-three months the dates I have given you, I won’t be able to come then it can be excused. But for that both the parties have to be very good to each other. But the pregnancy clause should be included,” he added.
Agarwal said the clause exists in other parts of the world.
“There (outside India) even the insurance companies ask for these details. If the shooting gets cancelled for an actor, the insurance company has to pay the loss to the producer. Here if a set gets damaged because of rain, the insurance company pays for it. So, if the heroine gets pregnant and cannot attend the shoot, then the insurance company would pay the producer for that too provided the clause is there. It’s the custom all over the world world but not in India,” he added.
Veteran actress Shabana Azmi believes that a pregnancy clause is not sexist.
“Insurance companies in Hollywood insist on many clauses including no pregnancy to safeguard huge monetary investments. It’s not sexist,” she posted on her microblogging site Twitter.
Producer Ravi Agrawal of films like “Sirf 24 Ghante”, “Radio” and the under production “Fever”, is thinking about introducing the clause in his next project.
“There should be a pregnancy clause in the contract because each film carries a huge amount of investment. So I definitely would be thinking on those lines in my next film,” he said.
Agrawal also maintained that Bhandarkar should not lose hope and move on to some other project.
However, there are many, who are completely against pregnancy clause.
“I will never have such a clause. However, this is something absolutely between the actors and the production companies,” said filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma.
Apart from him, filmmakers like Mahesh Bhatt, Vipul Shah and Yash Chopra have spoken against the clause.
Former beauty queen and actress Sushmita Sen too opposed the clause, saying: “I can show the producer the door if he puts a clause like that. I believe that what I do outside my job is no one’s business, specially if it is something like being a mother.”
Filmmaker Sudhir Mishra said he doesn’t believe in such clauses and that “films are like live surprises, few things happen..I don’t believe in clauses and contracts”.
Malaika Arora Khan said: “I really don’t know how much it is going to work and what is going to come out. I think understanding has to be there. I remember when I had my child, I was with MTV at that point and I had a great working relationship. When I got to know about my pregnancy, I informed them and they were very gracious about it and they let me take my breaks. They gave me the option to come back to work post that. And I think it should be an understanding of sorts. At the end of the day, it is about how professional you are.”