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Nine months ain’t all that long

Chandan Arora would never have made his debut film if he had waited till 2004. He wouldn’t have found any Antara Mali to say Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon. No one, after all, wants to be in the borrowed robes of Madhuri Dixit these days, what with award-winning film-makers ruing their luck for their leading lady ruining their dream projects by — of all things — going ahead and getting pregnant! Perhaps, the Dasguptas and Sens could learn from the best, sorry, the West, about life with — and beyond — the nine months.

Kill Bill would never have been the “roaring rampage of revenge” it is, had Uma Thurman not played the “blood-splattered Bride”. And who would know that better than the master himself, Quentin Tarantino. So, despite returning to films after six long years, Tarantino waited patiently during Thurman’s pregnancy period. It was no co-incidence that the two had conceived the concept of the film on the sets of Pulp Fiction and the story credits for Kill Bill go: “Q and U”.

Tarantino summed up being stumped by his leading lady’s pregnancy thus: “I’ve said this was my grindhouse movie... but it’s also my Josef von Sternberg movie. If you’re Josef von Sternberg and you’re about to start shooting Morocco in 1930 and Marlene Dietrich gets pregnant, what do you do? Do you go ahead and make the movie with someone else? Of course not! You wait for Dietrich — and film history will thank you.”

But not everyone is as mad about movies as QT. For many film-makers, one year is equivalent to as many as three films (David Dhawan’s made more in a calendar year). Well, they too find a way out if their lead actresses are in the family way.

Catherine Zeta-Jones was a full five months pregnant when she started shooting for Steven Soderbergh’s Oscar-winner Traffic. Mrs Douglas convinced Soderbergh to incorporate that bit in the script. What happened as a result was that her character’s vulnerability was heightened and she had more to lose when her husband was arrested.

History repeated itself when Reese Witherspoon got pregnant just prior to the first shooting schedule of Mira Nair’s Vanity Fair. As Nair’s interpretation of the classic was very avant garde, it didn’t matter if Becky Sharp was expecting.

But there were the obvious problems. Reese was reportedly counselled not to get too much under the skin of Becky and risk damage to the baby she was carrying. And although Nair wanted her Becky to be nice and plump, she didn’t want her to be too visibly pregnant. As a result, Reese was forced to hide behind strategically placed rugs, baskets and furniture. She even had a wardrobe malfunction, but deliberately done — the corset had a hole cut out for her belly with a lycra support strap.

That’s with them and their films. Here and now, for the final word on pregnancy, filmi style, directors might be well-advised to look up Mallika Sherawat’s latest Khwahish — a book she is penning on pregnancy!

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