Actress delivers before the camera- a 'new reality -as-entertainment'.
Swetha menon one of the leading actresses in the Indian film industry, former runner-up to miss India and hailing from Kerala hit the jackpot when she delivered her first child, a girl, under the glare of three cameras in the afternoon hours of September 28. The cameras that rolled in the forty five minutes-between the actress was admitted to the labour room and done the delivery-at the Nanavathi Nursing Home, Mumbai , and the two crew members who handled them form part of a film contract agreed between the actress, Valsan Menon, her husband and Blessy, a veteran film director in the Malayalam film industry. The fourth person in the labour room was the actress's husband.
'Kalimannu' the title of the film, means clay, implies the mother earth.
A husband giving company to his wife while delivering is considered taboo in the Indian societies. It was/is a ladies only affair.
Also in Kerala, among the affluent as well as poor, delivery is treated as a business of contamination. Puritans do not drink even a cup of water from a home where a lady has delivered; they have to wait for the passage of a certain number of days for that. Religions are seemingly unanimous in this approach.
In thepast, the rule of maternity was that the child and the mother should spend their life in some dark corner of the mother's home for a least period of three months. Fathers hardly saw the child during that period which was so crucial in establishing the connection between the two. No wonder fathers were reluctant to freely express love and intimacy with children even when they grew up. And cases where fathers abstained from taking enough responsibility towards children, during birth or growth were not uncommon.
Urbanization, movement of couple to distant places and lands for
employment and improved health consciousness are slowly impacting on the situation. Yet the labour room is not opened to the Indian men, not that they wish to be there. Blessy himself concedes, 'Though I am a father of two sons (Adith,17 and Akhil, 14), I did not see first-hand the birth of my children'
Even if a husband wishes to witness what is happening in the delivery room- how easy or difficult is it to bring his child into this world- he will be immediately called a nut by his mother and the in-laws.
In many countries it is mandatory that both husband and wife attend anti-natal sessions and that a husband should be with his wife in the labour room.
from the side of Swetha and her husband to break away from the national and the state conventions and to allow the director to film the delivery is revolutionary
though the argument may go that they made the birth of their child an economic good.
Swetha herself says,'The sufferings, every moment, a pregnant women facing should be known by the partner and I am taking this opportunity to make proper use of it to make people aware of a woman's sacrifice. When a woman is carrying, the society treats her like a patient. This is injustice, So both of us are taking this opportunity to oppose this practice of society'. The words certainly contain some sparks of revolution.
What the story of the film 'Kalimannu' entails is not yet clear. According to media reports, it has something to do with a mother-child interaction. The filming was going on since as early as Swetha was six months pregnant. This is what the director is quoted as saying,''In an age when pregnancy and motherhood is sometimes mechanical, the movie talks about a mother's relationship with her fetus''
By pregnancy being mechanical what does he mean, I am not clear. Mechanical implies not natural. Does he mean females in Kerala are getting impregnated through artificial insemination, or are mothers acting like machines? As far as I can see, both these positions are baseless. There is fair amount of intimacy in a mother-child relationship in Kerala. So what special relationship over and above this normal relationship, Blessy is going to come up with as happening between Swetha and her child in his film is something one has to wait and see.
Born and brought up in Kerala India. I was working in South Africa as an educator. Retired as Head of Division for Physical Sciences. Now lives in Cape town. My interests: teaching, learning, reading, writing ...